Church continues a course of consolidation

The New Apostolic Church is continuing its process of consolidation: in the year 2022, the District Apostle district of Northern and Eastern Germany will merge with the District Apostle district of Berlin-Brandenburg. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider made the announcement yesterday.

District Apostle Wolfgang Nadolny, who leads the District Church of Berlin-Brandenburg, will go into retirement sometime in the course of the year 2022. According to an announcement made following the divine service that was transmitted throughout the District Church of Berlin-Brandenburg on Sunday, his working area will then be taken over by Rüdiger Krause, his colleague in ministry from Northern Germany.

“There must be sufficient time to allow for a smooth transition,” stressed the Chief Apostle. In so doing he made reference to the positive experiences gained from merging other District Apostle Districts. He pointed out that the aim has always been to align the operational processes in the merging administrations prior to the actual legal amalgamation.

Five mergers in the space of six years

This is already the fifth merger of District Apostle Districts in Chief Apostle Schneider’s term of office: the formation of the New Apostolic Church Northern and Eastern Germany—which in 2016 united the previously independent districts of Northern Germany and Central Germany—was the first such amalgamation. In that same year, the Cape district in South Africa merged with the district of South-East Africa to form the new entity known as the District Church of Southern Africa.

In 2018 the District Church of Western Germany came into being after the merger of the District Churches of North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse/Rhineland Palatinate/Saarland. And in 2019 the District Churches of Argentina and Brazil/Bolivia came together to form the new District Church of South America.

Consolidation is the result of a deliberate effort

These amalgamations are not coincidental: “In today’s world it is no longer conceivable for a global church such as ours to be led by a single man,” explained Chief Apostle Schneider in June 2018 when he was interviewed about the Church’s strategy. “Rather, decisions must be made in a collaborative fashion. Like my predecessors, I feel it is important to shape the District Apostle Meeting into a true governing body of the Church.”

“Of course, shared leadership also requires certain rules, including the number of District Apostles.” After all, “you cannot lead the Church with a board of fifty District Apostles. If the District Apostles are to be fully involved in the governance of the Church, their number must not be too large. That is why we began to reduce the number of District Apostles, starting with Europe for example.”

Continuity in change

The current process of consolidation is simply following the course set into motion by Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber during his time of office. His tenure was characterised by the formation of independent districts that had previously been dependent on other District Churches. This is how the District Apostle areas of Eastern Africa (2007), South-East Asia (2009), the Democratic Republic of the Congo-West (2010), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo South-East (2013) came into being.

These amalgamations also tie in with the mergers that were implemented during the tenure of Chief Apostle Richard Fehr. And this is quite evident from the most recent case. After all, the current District Church of Northern and Eastern Germany actually consists of eight formerly independent District Churches that were brought together in 1991, 1994, 1997, and 2002, respectively. This makes the amalgamation scheduled for 2022 only one more in a lengthy series of steps.

The future District Apostle District will incorporate some 500 congregations with over 100,000 members in 21 District Churches, namely Belarus, Berlin-Brandenburg, the Channel Islands, Denmark, Estonia, the Faroe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Northern and Eastern Germany, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, the United Kingdom with Northern Ireland, and Uzbekistan.

Photo: Oliver Rütten

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Andreas Rother