Our conception of ministry goes into the next round

For the first time this year, the District Apostles and their assistants will meet for a conference. This time, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider has invited them to Vienna (Austria). The focus will be on the New Apostolic conception of ministry.

Once again the talks will centre on defining our conception of ministry. For a church with a hierarchical structure such as the New Apostolic Church, this topic touches on a central aspect of its doctrine. This topic is also very important in the eyes of the president of the Church: the fact that the Apostle ministry is the authoritative ministry is not something that has only been set out in writing in the Catechism. The Church leader also wants the doctrinal statements required for this to develop in a co-operative fashion in the circle of the District Apostles and Apostles. That is why he involved the 350 Apostles who are active around the world in the discussion process already last year.

A clearly defined framework

Not all statements concerning the definition of ministry are formulated in the Catechism of the New Apostolic Church. The framework, however, is clearly defined. There are three levels of ministry: diaconal, priestly, and the Apostle ministry, each with distinct spiritual powers. In addition to the ministry there are also positions of a hierarchical nature: congregational rector or district leader, District Apostle Helper or Chief Apostle Helper.

Answers to further questions

What exactly is a ministry, a commission, a function, and how do they differ? The definition of ordination is clear: it is the appointment to a spiritual ministry and is bestowed in the name of the triune God by an Apostle through the laying on of hands and prayer (Catechism 7.1). Ordination constitutes authorisation, blessing, and sanctification. It takes into account the competencies required for the respective tasks connected to the ministry.

A commission, or an appointment, is intended to structure certain duties and create a hierarchy in order to ensure the smooth running of the organisation. A commission confers certain duties which are connected with the ministry. A commission constitutes a leading function in the congregation, the individual districts, the District Church, or the Church as a whole.

All of this is now to be communicated to the ministers. The District Apostles have approved a presentation for this purpose. In addition to this, an article has been prepared for a Special Edition of the Divine Service Guide.

Importance of religious instruction for children

A second important focus of the conference will be on the conception and development of children’s teaching materials. Unlike other topics, it is very important here to take the cultural practices in the individual continents into consideration. Educational and methodical curricula differ in the various countries. In spite of this, it is the wish of the District Apostles to bring the existing teaching material up to date and to modernise it. Target group surveys have been carried out and are currently being evaluated.

Keyword: District Apostle Meeting International

The District Apostles and their assistants will be meeting for conferences in Vienna already a few days before Pentecost. There are currently twenty-seven Apostles. Also there, and for the first time, will be the two new District Apostle Helpers: Apostle Jürg Zbinden of Switzerland and Apostle Edy Isnugroho of Indonesia. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider appointed them on 14 January 2017 in Berne (Switzerland) and on 21 May 2017 in Depok (Sumatra/Indonesia), respectively. On Sunday, a worldwide transmission of the Pentecost service at the Vienna Konzerthaus is planned.

Photo: Peter Johanning

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