A master builder in every sense of the word

Karl Gutbrod, once the District Apostle of the Württemberg district in Germany, was a master builder in every sense of the word. On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of his death, nac.today looks at the work of a man who was not content with only laying spiritual foundations.

He worked as secretary for the Department of Urban Planning of the city of Heilbronn. That was his profession; his calling was pastor and preacher. Still as District Apostle, Karl Gutbrod enjoyed working in his profession. While he was District Apostle more than 40 churches were built in the Württemberg district, mostly central churches offering enough seating for the members of an entire Elder district—and that in the time of the Depression.

Unannounced inspection tours

Already early on, the District Apostle realized how important it was to come out of the shadows of leased premises and to build our own churches. He was not content with organizing things from his desk, but rolled up his sleeves and put his professional knowledge to good use: Karl Gutbrod negotiated with architects and building contractors, and often appeared on building sites unannounced to make sure that everything was in order. That is how modern church buildings came into being and set trends even in other Apostle districts.

Jakob Karl Gutbrod was born on 31 January 1869. His parents were peasant farmers and lived in Hemmingen (Germany). Being the oldest of seven siblings, he was forced to take on responsibilities early on. His mother, a woman with a deep faith, laid a deep longing into his heart. A carpenter by trade, he discovered the New Apostolic faith as an adult. He was invited to church and gladly followed the invitation. Before long, in January 1907, he was sealed together with his family.

Pastor and benefactor

That same year, Karl Gutbrod received his first ministry in the Church, the Deacon ministry. Other ministries followed and in July 1924, Chief Apostle Hermann Niehaus ordained him as a District Apostle. Despite his interest in and his commitment to the construction of church buildings, the focus of his work lay on pastoral care. During his time as District Apostle, the number of congregations doubled to 400 and the membership grew to 36,000.

In early 1938, Karl Gutbrod suffered a stroke from which he never fully recovered. That same year he went into retirement. He passed away on 8 February 1940. More than 1,000 mourners came to pay tribute to him at his funeral, which was conducted by his successor, Georg Schall: “Karl Gutbrod was a great teacher and a true pastor and benefactor.”

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