Concept of ministry to be launched on Pentecost 2019
Our new concept of ministry has reached the priestly ministry. Starting Pentecost 2019, the separation of spiritual ministry and leadership function will also come into effect at this level. This resolution has just been passed by the District Apostle Meeting.
During their most recent meeting in Zurich, the international leaders of the New Apostolic Church unanimously approved Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider’s proposal. He himself will present the concept and the reasons for it beforehand in a video address to all interested members. In addition to this, seminars will be offered to the ministers before Pentecost.
Between ministry and function
The basic idea is the separation of the actual ministry from institutional responsibility. With respect to spiritual authority there are only three ministries:
- Deacon (with the authority to proclaim the word of God and bless the congregation);
- Priest (with the additional authority to perform Holy Baptism with water, celebrate Holy Communion, and proclaim the absolution);
- Apostle (with the additional authority to perform Holy Sealing and ordain ministers).
The interim levels do not differ in ministerial authority, only in their degree of hierarchical responsibility. For this reason, leadership tasks will no longer be conferred through ordination, because ordination serves to confer authority. Such functions will instead be conferred by way of appointment, which incorporates blessing and sanctification for the mandate in question.
Between ordination and commission
This approach was already implemented last year for the Apostle ministry. An Apostle is ordained and a District Apostle is appointed. His assistant, the District Apostle Helper, who has a representative function, is assigned and blessed in a prayer.
“The distinction between spiritual ministry and leadership function will also have implications for the priestly ministry,” Chief Apostle Schneider announced in October 2017 following a divine service that was transmitted throughout Europe.
Not only has the date now been set, but it has also been explained that the corresponding leadership functions will in future bear the designations “congregational rector” and “district rector”. These tasks will also be conferred by appointment.
Answers to follow-up questions
Our Catechism, published in 2012, dedicates a whole chapter to the spiritual ministry. However, its explanations are not conclusive. “This is because there are follow-up questions when it comes to ministry,” noted Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber already in 2013.
Since the early part of 2014, the Questions of Faith Work Group, has been busy compiling the theological fundamentals right down to the historical background. The District Apostle Meeting International has been deliberating and making decisions on this subject regularly since March 2015.
The year 2017 marked a preliminary highlight: the first resolutions became official with the publication of two special editions of the Divine Service Guide and an official statement by Chief Apostle Schneider.