Church media through changing times

“For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Even today, many people are denied the opportunity to speak about their beliefs. It is important therefore to have a strong media presence. Follow us on a tour through the New Apostolic Church’s media history as we mark World Press Freedom Day on May 3th.

New Apostolic publications have a long-standing tradition and go back to the year 1863. Already in July 1863, several months after the Hamburg congregation separated from the Catholic Apostolic Church, a publication called The Sendbote (“emissary”) was published by the Prophet Heinrich Geyer. It was designed as a Sunday paper, but later evolved into a monthly magazine.

Black on white: the magazines

Among the early publications—which were all published in the German language and in Germany—The Herold (starting in 1884, and published by Apostle Friedrich Wilhelm Menkhoff), the Wächterstimme aus Ephraim, and the Apostolische Sonntagsblatt (1895/1907, Apostle Ernst Heinrich Bornemann) were all merged into a magazine called Neuapostolische Rundschau in 1909. Publisher and head writer was Friedrich Wilhelm Krause in Leipzig. His District Apostle Carl August Brückner, however, came into conflict with Chief Apostle Hermann Niehaus.

Because of this, the Chief Apostle instructed his assistant, Johann Gottfried Bischoff, to move the publishing activities of the Church to Frankfurt. By 1929, his son, Friedrich Bischoff, had established a printing shop and a publishing company: Verlag Friedrich Bischoff. The company’s core business were the Church’s official publications including the New Apostolic Review, the Word of Life, and the Youth Guide, and starting in 1952 a publication for the children called The Good Shepherd.

Illustrated magazines

The year 1933 saw the opening of a chapter that was to cover ninety years: the publisher of a newspaper called Rundfunk-Zeitung was cash-strapped and unable to pay the money he owed to the Bischoff printing company. In the end, Bischoff Publishers took over the paper, including the editorial team, and used it to create its own magazine, the German Unsere Familie.

In 1997, Our World was added and starting in 2000 a German language magazine called spirit. At the beginning of 2024, Unsere Familie and spirit were merged to form the new monthly magazine neuapostolisch (“New Apostolic”).

Around the world: internationalisation

With the advent of the Our Family—first published in South Africa by Assistant Chief Apostle Heinrich Franz Schlaphoff—the internationalisation of the Church’s central publications gained in momentum. By 1990, the Our Family, or parts of it, were available in 22 languages. This is only topped by the Divine Service Guide, the monthly guide for ministers of the Church, which is produced in nearly seventy languages.

Meanwhile the activities of the New Apostolic Church have moved on to include other fields as well. Starting in 1949, there were regular transmissions of divine services. In the 1980s, the first video broadcasts took place in what was then East and West Germany, and in the USA. And since 1990 there have been worldwide transmissions of the annual Pentecost service.

Multimedia: internet, television, radio

The New Apostolic Church International has been online since 1997. In April of that year, the official home page went online under What started as a calling card and an information service, has grown into an online news room over the years.

In the broadcasting sector there is nothing central as yet, but quite a few regional initiatives—above all NACTV in South Africa and broadcasts by the New Apostolic Church Zambia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. The New Apostolic Church Southern Germany has slots on public radio networks.

The New Apostolic Church is also found on many a smartphone. Many members have apps to receive news, to help them find a congregation, or to help them retrieve information from the Catechism.

Daily reports except Sundays

The Church opened a new chapter at the beginning of 2015 with its launch of the central web-based news magazine, which offers reports from around the New Apostolic world on a daily basis except Sundays. The online magazine is produced in four languages and has users in 190 countries. And then there is the quarterly magazine community, available in print or in digital format.

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Andreas Rother