Most ministers speak Tshiluba

The most important periodical for the leaders of the New Apostolic Church is the Divine Service Guide. It serves to help the ministers around the world prepare for the divine services. What is the most important language? English, German, or another language? Answers to this were given at the most recent District Apostle Meeting.

Some 195,000 ministers regularly receive a copy of the Divine Service Guide. It is published in nearly 70 languages. This is the result of a recent survey that Erich Senn, manager of administration of the New Apostolic Church International (NACI), presented to the District Apostles from around the world at their conference on 13 March 2015.

A monthly publication or a yearbook

The Divine Service Guide is published in two different formats and frequencies. In countries with sufficient infrastructure, the periodical is distributed once a month as a print version. Besides the regular monthly issues there is also a Special Edition at least once a year that focuses on special topics. With well over 75,000 copies per edition, the monthly publication is the smaller of the two versions.

This is in contrast to the nearly 120,000 copies of the Yearbook that includes the articles for a whole year. This collection is used especially in Africa and Asia, where the distribution of printed matter is often difficult to organize. The New Apostolic Church in the south-eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, needs about a month to supply its congregations in the major cities with copies of the Divine Service Guide and an additional six months until the most remote congregations receive their copies.

English, German, or Tshiluba?

There are several answers to the question as to which language is the most important. The biggest circulation of the monthly periodical at 25,000 copies is in the German language, well before English and Afrikaans. Where the Yearbook is concerned, however, French leads with nearly 23,000 copies just ahead of Tshiluba, a Bantu language that is spoken in the south-east of the Congo. Following close on its heel is the English Yearbook.

If you add the number of copies of both formats—the Yearbook and the monthly periodical—then English, German, and French are the most widely spoken languages. But the comparison is a little unfair, considering that in parts of Africa—especially in the Congo—only the ministers from Priest on upward can be supplied with a copy of the Divine Service Guide. If the Deacons were supplied with a printed copy as well, Tshiluba would be number one with 42,000 Yearbooks.

The focus is on Africa

But even so, in the top ten languages spoken in the New Apostolic Church, African languages dominate. Among those most widely spoken are French (West and Central Africa) and Portuguese (Angola) as well as Tshiluba (Congo), Kiswahili (East Africa), Lingala (Congo), Afrikaans (South Africa), and Lozi (Zambia, Zimbabwe).

The focus on African languages is not surprising, considering that a good 83 per cent of the members of the New Apostolic Church live in Africa.

For additional information go to the article “Keyword: Divine Service Guide

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Andreas Rother
Media, Doctrinal instruction, International