A look back and more

This week we take a look at an anniversary in Australia and a campaign for a better future. There certainly are reasons to celebrate, but there are also always moments to pause and reflect and pray for others.

Jubilee in Box Hill

The first divine services in Melbourne (Australia) were conducted in the Footscray area in the early 1950’s. The membership grew and the congregation moved several times to larger premises before it was decided that a more permanent location should be found. A parcel of land was purchased in Box Hill, a suburb of Melbourne. First, however, it was necessary to demolish the existing house that stood on the block, and many members sacrificed their time to assist with this task. Once construction was completed, many hands again made light work of the finishing touches required, including the establishment of the gardens. On 22 November 1970 Apostle Eric De Lisen dedicated the new church. A number of further congregations were established as a result of missions supported by the Box Hill congregation.

Due to COVID restrictions and lockdowns, the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary was put on hold until earlier this year. In April District Apostle Schulte could finally travel to Melbourne to conduct the festive divine service. At the conclusion of the service the congregation enjoyed an afternoon of fellowship together.

Praying for the victims of the pandemic

Also in South-East Asia the pandemic has claimed the lives of many brothers and sisters and a number of ministers. People are grieving, are afraid for themselves and others, or have to deal with COVID on the front lines every day. With a national call to prayer, District Apostle Edy Isnugroho wanted to convey comfort to the members in his district and invited them to join an online event: “Dear brothers and sisters, from the Yogyakarta office I invite you all, wherever you are: let us unite our hearts and humbly come before the almighty God, the loving heavenly Father,” he said at the beginning of the broadcast on Sunday, 18 July. Apostle Samuel Hadiwidagdo asked the members to continue to trust in God and to comply with the government guidelines.

Following the prayers, the District Apostle still had something on his mind: “Let us help each other, hand in hand, and contribute to peace. Let us trust in God and remain faithful to Him,” he said to the members. People in more than 2,100 locations received the broadcast.

Retirements and ordinations in the DR Congo

District Apostle Michael Deppner conducted a divine service in Kinshasa on 18 July 2021 in which he carried out a number of retirements and ordinations on behalf of the Chief Apostle. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider would have loved to come himself and carry out the acts, but the French government had classified the DR Congo a COVID-19 area of concern shortly before. “We thank the Apostles for the work they have done and wish them a peaceful and blessed retirement,” the Chief Apostle wrote in his letter to the Apostles. The following Apostles were retired: Louis Kabangu (he carried the Apostle ministry for eight years), Macaire Mayele (26 years as an Apostle), Ferdinand Mbande (22 years as an Apostle), Gaston Mukoko (eight years as an Apostle), Ndaye Ntumba (26 years as an Apostle), and Michel Tati (26 years as an Apostle). District Apostle Michael Deppner ordained the following brothers as Apostles: District Elder Kpama Giany Bangawe (aged 48), District Evangelist Seni Guy Bariza (49), Bishops Kanku Roger Buabua (57) and Oscar Ponza Etedika (40), Shepherd Elie Tatien Mukinda Musinganyi (45), and District Elder Emmanuel Ngolo Woto (52).

Chief Apostle Schneider conducted a divine service in Altkirch, a small town in France, on the same day. He sealed a child and retired a Priest, who could no longer carry out his ministry for health reasons. He based the divine service on Psalm 139: 5: “You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me.”

It is better to give than receive

“Giving rather than taking” (#GebenStattNehmen) is the motto the young people from Berlin-Brandenburg in Germany had chosen for their Day of the Youth in 2020 and put the focus on the protection of the environment. But only talking about it was not enough for District Apostle Wolfgang Nadolny. He decided to launch a tree planting campaign. He wants to plant 23,000 trees—about as many as his district has members—starting on Thanksgiving 2021 with the help of the young people. The trees will be planted to reforest fallow and burnt areas to help protect the environment. Bishop Udo Knispel is the organiser of the campaign and is in contact with forest rangers and a large German nature conservation organisation (NABU). The start will be made by 100 young people in Zeesen on 13 November. The District Apostle has called on the young people and other interested brothers and sisters to start many small planting campaigns in their area. He hopes to inspire other regional churches to take part in this campaign.

Correction (31 July 2021, 11:30 a.m.): Contrary to a previous version of the article, Chief Apostle Schneider was not sealed in the congregation of Altkirch.