Charting the course for a joint future
The two independent District Apostle Areas in South America will merge in 2019. This announcement was recently made by the Church leaders.
The reason for this is the retirement of District Apostle Raúl Montes de Oca, who will be 65 at the end of 2018 and is planning to retire in mid 2019. His working area of Brazil and Bolivia will then be taken over by District Apostle Enrique Minio. He is currently responsible for the countries of Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
The decision was made by Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider together with the District Apostles. A letter announcing the merger was read out to the congregations in both District Apostle Areas over the last two weekends.
District Apostle Minio “will take on these forthcoming responsibilities with the fear of God and the firm resolve to serve every entrusted soul in the mind and spirit of the gospel of Christ”, it says in his circular. He says that he has complete trust that our heavenly Father will lay His blessing on this decision.
District Apostle Montes de Oca writes, “I am confident that all members and ministers will show the new District Apostle and His co-workers the same kind of love and support they showed me during the course of my work.”
Preparations well ahead of time
“Our working relationship with District Apostle Minio is very close and amicable,” District Apostle Montes de Oca said, when asked by nac.today about the upcoming merger. “We started the process of merging the two districts early so that we would have the time needed.” The new District Apostle’s travel plan, for example, is already well on its way so that he familiarise himself with the new district. But not only District Apostle Minio will be travelling to get to know congregations. Also two Apostles will assume new tasks.
The two ministers from Argentina and Uruguay will henceforth look after the districts in Brazil and Bolivia which are now still being looked after by District Apostle Montes de Oca. “The fact that the two men who will assist with the work in Brazil speak Portuguese will facilitate the work,” Raúl Montes de Oca says. And Bolivia will benefit from this change too, he adds. “The same language and the geographic proximity will be a great help.”
A largely separate development
To date the two districts have developed largely separately. While the beginnings of the New Apostolic Church in Brazil go back to the 1920s, the history of the Church in Argentina dates back to the turn of the century.
There was a period of about twenty years in which both districts were cared for by Assistant Chief Apostle Heinrich Franz Schlaphoff. This was between the 1930s and the 1950s. He encouraged that the divine services be held in the national language in both regions, thereby ensuring growth of the Church.
The New Apostolic Church South America, as it will be called, will be comprised of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. There will be a total of 720 congregations and five thousand ministers. Most of the other countries in South America are cared for by the New Apostolic Church USA.
Photo: Frank Schuldt