Information evening on the ordination of women
The New Apostolic Church is inviting its members from all around the world to a virtual congregational evening with the Chief Apostle. So reports the home page of nak.org, which also mentions what the subject matter involves. The background to the developments in question is explained by nac.today.
“On Tuesday, 20 September 2022, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider will address all New Apostolic congregations around the world,” so writes the communication hub of the New Apostolic Church International. According to the site, the Church leader plans to provide information on the matter of “women in ordained ministry” and present the most recent deliberations on the subject, along with their theological content.
The video will premiere at 19:30 (Central European Summer Time; UTC +2). The receiving congregations will be determined by the respective Regional Churches. The video address will be made available online later that evening. This transmission will serve as a continuation of the information evening that was streamed in April 2019, which also dealt with the concept of ministry in the New Apostolic Church.
The overall picture
The background: while the Church’s understanding of church and sacrament were exhaustively described in the Catechism published in 2012, it was only possible to outline the fundamentals of the concept of ministry in that work due to time constraints. A complete formulation of this concept has been in the works since 2014. The results to date range from the doctrinal foundations to the concentration of the ministerial structure to three levels, which came into effect on Pentecost 2019.
After answering the question of “What?” it was now time to explore the question of “Who?”. The roadmap for these deliberations was outlined by the Chief Apostle in his annual interview 2021. Accordingly, the decision-making was to be based on the fundamental questions: “What does God say?”, “What does the Bible say?”, “What does the Church say?”, and “What does the regional culture say?”
Some initial answers
The first question—namely an inquiry into the will of God—had already been answered on the basis of the biblical accounts of the creation. The District Apostle Meeting had previously deliberated on this issue in November 2020, and published a doctrinal treatise on the subject of “Man and woman in the image of God” in March 2021.
After examining the further biblical evidence, the New Apostolic Church went on to issue a position paper with respect to the second question in November 2021. The guiding principle for interpreting the Bible has since been that it is the content that gives the biblical books their spiritual authority, not the name of the author.
The responsibility of the Church
This much is clear: the Church leadership did not want to be put under pressure to make a particular decision for or against a particular decision. The Chief Apostle had already made it quite clear that “this subject is too important for us to deal with it hastily or only in consideration of societal trends. We will move forward at our own pace. We will make our decision for the New Apostolic Church as a whole, not simply for one or the other side.”
In the process, the Church leader made reference to the great developments of past decades, first and foremost the broadening of our understanding of the church under Chief Apostle Richard Fehr, and the recognition of the baptisms of other denominations by his successor Wilhelm Leber. “This took years,” summarised the incumbent Chief Apostle.
There has been one crucial difference in the current decision-making process, however. In its public relations work, the Church has opened up more than ever before: with respect to the concept of ministry, the Church’s media have been following the deliberations from the start with detailed publications.