A sore ankle brought him to church

He practically stumbled into the New Apostolic Church. And from then on, he was eager to work for his church: we are talking about District Apostle Otto Steinweg, who would have turned 160 on 26 April.

A dog is to blame for the fact that Johann Otto Heinrich Steinweg, called Otto, is New Apostolic. In the winter of 1892, he wanted to fetch water from the cellar and overlooked the sleeping dog on the top step. The results: Otto made it down the stairs faster than he had intended.

He sprained a ligament in his ankle. Walking or working was out of the question for a while. Instead, he asked his wife to bring him the Bible so that he could do something useful with his free time. Marie was a little surprised at his sudden interest, especially when her husband suddenly suggested attending services in the New Apostolic Church. He must have had a change of heart.

His two sisters had already tried to invite him and Marie to church several times. And Marie had wanted to go but would have had to do it without Otto knowing, who was not keen to begin with. So they did go together after all and received the sacrament of Holy Sealing together with their daughter, Gertrud, on 28 June 1893 from Friedrich Krebs, the later Chief Apostle. Otto received his first ministerial assignment as a Subdeacon in 1894 and from then on served in various ministries.

Back to the early beginnings

Otto Steinweg was born in Ottenstein on 26 April 1864. He lost his mother at an early age. His father remarried, but also died when Otto was just ten years old. His new mother took care of him and his siblings, but could not afford for Otto to become a sculptor, as he had wished. So he worked for the postal services, but continued his education with private tuition.

Good neighbours

Two removal vans stopped in front of the apartment building at Hedwigstrasse 13 in Braunschweig on a day in September 1895. Friedrich Krebs and his wife, Minna, and their daughter, Klara, moved into one floor, and Otto moved into another floor with his wife and daughter. “We look forward to good neighbourly relations,” Friedrich Krebs, the later Chief Apostle, is supposed to have said. As it turned out, the relations with the neighbours were very good.

Not only did the priest and prophet Otto Steinweg accompany his leader on many journeys, he also gladly made his home available to his friend Friedrich whenever needed, as his family was not New Apostolic. So any meetings or discussions took place in the Steinweg’s home and a first New Apostolic magazine, which was first published in October 1895, was compiled and corrected there. Otto also wrote the first church register for the congregation of Braunschweig there. Friedrich Krebs was always a welcome guest in the Steinweg family’s home, who by then had three daughters.

The death of his parents was not the only stroke of fate that Otto Steinweg had to deal with. He lost his wife and first-born daughter Gertrud at the age of just 14.

An important task

In 1905, Chief Apostle Hermann Niehaus appointed Otto Steinweg as Apostle Helper to assist Apostle Wilhelm Sebastian. When he retired, Otto took over the apostle district of Braunschweig and served the approximately seven thousand members in ninety congregations in the district, which stretched across Hanover, Magdeburg, Wolfenbüttel, Halberstadt, and Coswig.

A straightforward Apostle

He married again on 23 October 1913. Otto had four sons with Anna Fehse, all of whom were active as ministers. His youngest son, Arno, later became District Apostle for Lower Saxony.

Peter Steinweg knows from stories about his grandfather that his way of dealing with people was not always refined. Without warning, he apparently said to a Deacon at the altar, “I am taking the ministry of Deacon from you,” only to continue after the stunned silence that followed, “And give you the ministry of Priest instead.”

The minister continued to do diaconal duties in his congregation. He often unlocked the churches where he planned to celebrate the divine service and did door duty to greet everyone.

A loving Apostle

During his thirty years as a minister, the district grew to 20,000 members and 171 congregations. He built 16 new churches and bought nine plots of land.

The Apostle was not only known for his straightforward character, but also for his love. He worked tirelessly for those entrusted to his care, and even when he suddenly fell ill with asthma in June 1937, he travelled to look after his fellow believers. Still on his deathbed he prayed for them.

Otto Steinweg died on 5 July 1937 at the age of 73. Chief Apostle Johann Gottfried Bischoff celebrated the funeral service three days later at the main cemetery in Braunschweig. Among other things, he said about the District Apostle, “He kept the faith. The values for which he invested time and energy are of a lasting nature. We can be certain that his life was not in vain, but a blessing for his family and for the children of God entrusted to him.”

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