He created the global bond of faith
In the archives of the New Apostolic Church, there are extensive travel reports of Chief Apostle Ernst Streckeisen’s journeys between 1975 and 1978. Today, Ernst Streckeisen would have been 110 years old.
Those who had the privilege of meeting Chief Apostle Streckeisen personally were struck by his kind and loving personality. He was humble and calm and circumspect, and had a pure heart. This is how Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber described him in a memorial service ten years ago today.
Poverty and unemployment
Ernst Streckeisen was born on 19 October 1905 in St Gallen in Switzerland. His father died when he was only three years old. His mother, Albertine, was left to raise him and his younger brother, Karl. They grew up in bitter poverty. Following school, an apprenticeship as a clerk, and military service Ernst made his living with odd jobs until he finally found a permanent employment with the municipal offices.
The family heard about the New Apostolic faith from a neighbour. Albertine Streckeisen and her boys were sealed in August 1910. Ernst Streckeisen received his first ministry in December 1927. He was ordained as a Sub-deacon. Other ministries followed, and in June 1952 he was ordained as an Apostle during a divine service in Frankfurt am Main in Germany.
A man for special cases
Apostle Streckeisen was a man of God who was called when special situations had to be handled. When District Apostle Ernst Eschmann suddenly died, Ernst Streckeisen was given the leadership of the Apostle district of Switzerland. When District Apostle Arno Abicht died in a car accident, Ernst Streckeisen was called to look after the New Apostolic people in South America. And when the District Apostles Georg Schall and Gotthilf Volz went into retirement, he also looked after the Apostle district of Württemberg in Germany.
Ernst Streckeisen was 69 years of age—a time in life when most people are taking things a little easier—when the greatest challenge called. Chief Apostle Walter Schmidt, who was 83 years old, retired. He had designated Ernst Streckeisen as his successor at the beginning of 1975. His time as Chief Apostle was to be short—only four years. It was a time in which he gave impulses and set the course of the Church.
Driving internationalization on
Although Chief Apostle Hermann Niehaus was the first Chief Apostle to travel to North America, and Chief Apostle Schmidt was the first leader of the New Apostolic Church to go to Africa, it was under Chief Apostle Streckeisen that the Church’s globe-spanning work began in earnest.
He moved the Church’s head office from Germany to Switzerland, which allowed him to travel to many countries for which visas had not been issued before. This is how he was able to visit the New Apostolic Christians in East Germany for the first time. They had not had a visit by a Chief Apostle since the end of World War Two.
Within two years, Ernst Streckeisen visited the brothers and sisters on all continents. He travelled to Australia and Asia in 1976, to North America in 1977, and to South America and South Africa in 1978.
Chief Apostle Streckeisen not only convened the first international conference of Apostles, which took place in Kitchener in Canada, he also initiated the first international umbrella organization of the New Apostolic Church, the International Apostle Unity.
His sudden passing
“Stay nice and apostolic …” These were his last words before he embarked on a journey to South Africa in October 1978—a trip from which he would not return. On 8 November 1978 he died in Cape Town as a result of complications from a stroke.
During a memorial service that took place on the centenary of Chief Apostle Streckeisen’s death, Chief Apostle Leber emphasized the legacy left by Ernst Streckeisen, “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12: 3).