Development and teaching in the New Apostolic Church

School is not the only place where one can learn something. One can also do so in church. Tomorrow, 24 January is the International Day of Education. Here are a few examples how the New Apostolic Church is involved in teaching its members.

When it comes to teaching and learning at church we automatically think of Sunday School. This is exactly what the national heads of seminars in West Africa had in mind when they came together recently for a three-day meeting in Osu in Accra, Ghana. On December 8 the first participants arrived, looking forward to the next couple of days. The next day, the meeting began with a video message from District Apostle Ehrich. The two lead Apostles Benjamin Ohene-Saffo and Samuel Oppong-Brenya also welcomed the participants.

For the retired District Elder Wolfgang Oehler and District Elder Michael Dinkelacker this was the last seminar after many years of leading seminars in West Africa. They began by presenting the status of the Sunday School teaching material. All chapters of the new teaching material are now available on the intranet as recordings, both in English and in French. “This way even teachers who have limited reading and writing skills can listen to the Sunday School content on their mobile phone,” Wolfgang Oehler explained. Sisters and brothers from West Africa had recorded the content. Wolfgang Oehler was very happy about how keen people were to participate. “It was a lot of fun! I am very happy about this. This way, the new Sunday School can begin with a lot of momentum.”

Teaching the teachers

Apostle Martin Rheinberger from Germany was introduced as the replacement for Wolfgang Oehler. He will from now on coordinate the seminars with Apostle Felix Barisi Kpegasin from Nigeria and District Elder Lothar Heim from Germany. True to the motto “Teach the teachers”, the countries served by the New Apostolic Church Southern Germany first train the seminar leaders, who then train the Sunday School teachers, confirmation teachers, and so on locally.

This is not done in the classic lecture format. The participants are taught by practical methods. For example, there was a group activity to illustrate the subject of humility. Further subjects were discussed, such as how to motivate congregations to become more active and how to overcome conflicts.

Teaching music

Children from the church district of Ulm, Germany, managed to coax the first sounds from some musical instruments in November last year. On a Saturday, children met up in the church Ulm-East for a music day. First of all, the curious children marvelled at the organ from the inside and learned many interesting things about the interaction of the organ pipes. Then they were allowed to try out different instruments themselves, from violins to flutes of all sizes. To give the children an idea of the sound of the different instruments, the district orchestra came and performed some pieces. Afterwards, the children made their own instruments such as rattles, bells, or castanets and formed their own little orchestra.

Learning to be a good instrumentalist can be learned. Some musicians from the Worcester district in South Africa took this to heart and took clarinet lessons from Dudley Adams of the Worcester district for six months. While some of the participants were accomplished organists, violinists, and trumpeters, they soon found that playing the clarinet was akin to learning a new language. At the end of November, the six clarinet players then concluded this round of lessons with an open-book exam, and passed! There was more good news. They were informed that they would be able to form part of the congregational orchestra on the Sunday after.

Unusual private lessons in South Africa

Twice last year, groups of students gathered in one of our churches to learn something that is usually not taught in a church. They came to attend a preparation event for matric exams in our Parow Valley church. The first one was in March, and the follow-up event was held on 15 October. Dr Evalina Van Wyk, a psychiatric nurse (PhD) explained to the learners and their parents what it means to be exam ready. She also dealt with the topic of exam stress and pointed out the symptoms to the parents and learners and where to go for help.

Church buildings in South Africa are becoming soft targets for thieves. Some of our churches were broken into and vandalised last year. The South African Police Service (SAPS) reached out to the rectors of Table Bay District to hold talks on how to be vigilant and prevent further break-ins. The police reported that the thieves are interested in the musical instruments and electronic equipment. The rectors were able to ask questions and were given valuable information.

Making the most of a Youth Day

The Youth Day weekend in Banama in Guinea was not only fun and games this time, but there was also some serious learning on the agenda. Apostle Saa Marc Leno felt it was important to convey some of the subjects to the young people as well. He showed them some of the teaching material that is available, including the Catechism. Then he gave a presentation on gender equivalence and equality and made it clear that both man and woman are called to serve in the Church. In the course of the two-day event, the young people could attend further workshops, for example on the Lord’s Prayer or on the Creed in their local language. There had been some revisions.

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