From frequent flyer to retiree

A man the size of a tree—large, generous, and of cheerful disposition. Sunday, 30 September 2018 will go down in the annals of the New Apostolic Church Australia: District Apostle Andrew Andersen will retire. It is the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one.

His life reads like an adventure novel: born in Copenhagen 67 years ago, he is a Dane who grew up in Australia. His parents immigrated there and landed in Port Adelaide in December 1956. Thus began a new life for the entire family: a foreign country, a foreign language, and a foreign culture awaited them. For the young children this smelled more like an adventure, but for the parents it represented an enormous adjustment. It was only years later that they really settled down—in the city of Elizabeth, a few kilometres south of Adelaide. Father found a job, the children went to school, and Australia became their new home. Their contact with the Church occurred rather coincidentally, it seems, through one of father’s co-workers. In 1962 the family became New Apostolic Christians.

An Apostle with a pilot’s licence

As a young man of 16 years, Andrew Andersen left his parental home and pursued his training in the Australian Air Force—and even managed to secure a pilot’s licence of his own. Later, as a clergyman, the minister Andrew Andersen actually ended up flying so frequently that the airline staff would welcome him by name whenever he boarded the aircraft. In Australia, there is just no way to get around except by airplane. The distances are simply too great. Anyone who travels for 30 years as an Apostle, as he has, will cover thousands of miles in an airplane. But the frequent flyer does not have his head in the clouds. His feet are firmly on the ground: he has been married to his Margret since 1972, is the father of four children, and a happy grandfather to boot.

Even the year 1988 did very little to disturb the idyllic family scene: it was in that year that Chief Apostle Richard Fehr ordained the District Evangelist Andersen an Apostle. The next nudge came in 2001: again it was Chief Apostle Fehr who laid hands upon his forehead, this time to ordain him a District Apostle. For seventeen years he fulfilled this service in the Church in a thoroughly joyful manner and with enormous strength. Each of his successive Chief Apostles, as well as his fellow District Apostles, describe him as a good friend and a dear brother

District Apostle Andersen has also given a part of his big heart to the congregations in New Guinea. Years ago he said that the pastoral work in this region was still in the very early childhood stages: making peace among the various tribes, battling with everything from mosquitos to crocodiles, and daring to set off on long foot marches through thick jungle. But what has inspired him even more is the vitality and childlike nature of the faith he has found there.

A friend with a big heart

“His service has been characterised by true love, genuine humbleness, and divine wisdom,” writes Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider as he describes the retiring District Apostle. He goes on to state that he experienced him as a true friend with a big heart and a subtle sense of humour. And now the 30th of September approaches. The retirement of District Apostle Andrew Andersen has been scheduled to take place in a divine service in Brisbane. He will hear words of gratitude and experience an emotional atmosphere—and he will not be happy that everyone is making such a fuss over him. Some of the District Apostles who were present on the occasion of his ordination as District Apostle in 2001 have already passed away—including Chief Apostle Fehr. And when Chief Apostle Schneider presides at his retirement, District Apostles Michael Ehrich (Southern Germany), Urs Hebeisen (South East Asia), Leonard Kolb (USA), and Mark Woll (Canada) will be seated with him at the altar. And right at the end of the divine service, District Apostle Helper Peter Schulte will be appointed as the new District Apostle.

The retiring District Apostle has the following to say about his successor: “This change has been long prayed for and stands under the blessing of the Lord. Peter Schulte is a man of faith. He will lead a large district, and will do so in his usual calm and composed manner.” The new District Apostle will also take on the leadership of the New Apostolic congregations in Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, South Korea, and Taiwan from Australia.

Indeed, an era is coming to a close—and a new one is about to begin.

Remaining faithful

It was only recently that District Apostle Andrew Andersen wrote a kind of farewell message from active ministry by his own hand. In the Spotlight 12/2018 he wrote, among other things: “A well-known saying goes: ‘Practise what you preach.’ I suggest it is even better when, with a good conscience, we can confidently ‘preach what we practice’. As we go forward in life, let us practise faithfulness to Christ ourselves and at the same time be assertive when we are in the company of our family, friends, and neighbours. Our determination that we ourselves have to keep our faith alive must communicate itself to others. My dear brothers and sisters, let us be (and remain) faithful to Christ.”

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