A whirlwind of a weekend in Bogotá and Lima
Travelling to individual countries can certainly be strenuous, especially if the responsible District Apostle has announced his visit to congregations that are quite distant from one another. It is on just such a weekend in Colombia and Peru with District Apostle Leonard Kolb that Bishop Manfredo Stegmann reports.
Night has fallen and I am sitting in the airplane to Bogotá, Colombia. After several intermediate stops I arrive in Bogotá on a Friday afternoon. It is 6 December 2019. I take the quickest route to the hotel to meet up with my District Apostle Kolb and our local Bishop. The itinerary shows a welcome dinner with the Apostles, Bishops, and district ministers of the country. And the teaching and learning with our District Apostle already begins during dinner together—which I have come to know is very typical of him. The conversations and discussions have a good impact. After a little fellowship, all of us leave to go to our rooms and get a little rest.
It is Saturday: the first day of seminars begins—and it literally lasts the whole day. There are all sorts of topics, and many things to discuss. Teaching content of this kind is, at the same time, always a challenge for all the participants to give further thought to their own work, reflect on their sermons, pay even more attention to brotherly love, and to fill the divine services with this love. Every individual in the congregation is to feel at ease and experience that he or she is loved. It is in this manner that they are to know Jesus Christ is truly in their midst when they celebrate Holy Communion together. These statements also bind the seminar participants together. They create a warm atmosphere among us. Even during dinner, the conversation does not stop—again and again, we deepen our understanding of the things we have learned. And naturally, there is also a great deal of joy and laughter.
Early on Sunday morning we drive to the congregation of Boyacá Real. A district services has been scheduled there, and a total of 365 brothers and sisters participate. The divine service is enriched by a wonderful musical programme, and the fact that 25 souls are sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. After bidding farewell to all the participants, our journey continues to the airport: this time we travel to Lima, Peru, where a gathering with young people and a musical group has been scheduled.
Once in Lima, we make our way to the hotel, where some of our young people are already waiting for us—an hour earlier than agreed. We settle into our rooms and get together afterward in a meeting room in the hotel. Our District Apostle sees to it that the seats are set up differently—after all, he wants all the participants to become well acquainted with one another. The older ministers are asked to take their places behind them in the second row. What follows next are some deep and intensive discussions with the young people. Their ranks include Sunday School teachers, choir leaders, orchestra conductors, and youth leaders. Over pizza, I hear them talk about their activities and ideas for the congregations. I can feel their enthusiasm for church work, which makes me very happy. After a few hours, the discussions come to an end, as does the Sunday. It seems to me as if we had been together for two Sundays! And our journey is still not at an end just yet.
Early on Monday morning, we set off for the administration office of our church in Peru. There we meet up with the district rectors of all the districts in order to draw up a plan for how the church building programme in this country is to continue in the future. We arrive to find fifteen ministers and the administrative staff waiting for us already. Our discussions stretch well into the late afternoon. They are constructive discussions—and we manage to work out a solid plan for the future. Everyone participates in the process, in the endeavour to find the best solution for the country as a whole, without focussing overly on individual interests. This was wonderful to witness.
After taking our leave, we set off through the heavy Lima traffic to make our way to the airport. There the District Apostle and I also take leave of one another. Another night flight awaits me, but this time in the direction of home. The weekend’s journey has been exhausting, but good—and by the grace of God, it has been a successful and valuable trip that I will remember for a long time.
About the author:
Manfredo Stegmann is a Bishop of the New Apostolic Church in Mexico. He was born in Buenos Aires, and when he was eleven years old, he moved to New York with his family, and later to San Diego near the border to Mexico. His ancestors trace their roots back to Germany. He was ordained a Deacon only a few days after his confirmation, and was just barely 17 years of age when he was ordained a Priest. He has worked as a Bishop of the Church in Mexico since the year 2010. Parallel to this he often travels with District Apostle Helper John Fendt to various Central American countries. He is married and has one son.