“Wherever our feet took us” – Tribute to a true pioneer
The New Apostolic Church Canada is mourning the passing of a true pioneer: Apostle (ret.) Edward Deppner passed away at the age of 78 years. He was instrumental in establishing the Church in 24 countries
District Apostle Mark Woll describes the life of Edward Deppner as a “missionary pilgrimage”. Apostle Deppner passed away on Monday last week. District Apostle Woll conducted the funeral on Sunday, 1 February, in Ancaster, Ontario (Canada) and based it on Psalm 84: 5: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.”
In 1964, District Apostle Michael Kraus commissioned Edward Deppner, who was a young Priest at the time, to go to Romania and to help establish the New Apostolic Church there. In 1974 he was asked to go to the Caribbean and to Central America, where he established the foundation for congregations in Dominica, Haiti, San Salvador, Curacao, Panama, Costa Rica, Trinidad, St. Lucia, Grenada, the Bahamas, and in Suriname.
Two years later, he went on his first missionary trip to Africa and established the Church in Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Benin, Mauritius, and Ivory Coast. In 1977, Edward Deppner—by then he was a District Elder—set foot in Zaire for the first time (modern Democratic Republic of the Congo) and began to work in the western part of the country. The work was so successful that he decided to move to Kinshasa with his wife, Gertrude. Today, some 1.1 million people profess the New Apostolic faith in this part of the country. His son, Michael, is currently District Apostle there.
Edward Deppner was ordained as an Apostle in 1981. He worked in a total of 16 countries in Africa and went “wherever our feet took us”, he wrote in his biography. Later, the District Apostle asked him to go to the Far East and plant the New Apostolic faith in Burma, Thailand, and China, among others. “You established the Church in places from which others would have run away,” Chief Apostle Fehr said at his retirement in 2004.
Friends and companions describe Eddie Deppner, as he was known to many, as someone special and as an extraordinary man of God who “liked to colour outside the lines”. He was known for his sparkling wit, his tender wisdom, his friendship and not least for his God-fearing humility. When he recounted stories from his missionary work and told anecdotes on how he managed to plant the seed after arriving in a new country without any contacts, he would always humbly explain, “The Lord opened the door.”
“The heavenly Father has surely opened a shining door for one of his most remarkable emissaries,” a long-time friend and companion wrote in a eulogy.