“A sensitive man with a heart for eternity”
A true protector who engaged his gifts with all his might for the sole mission of “perfection and completion”: that was District Apostle Arno Steinweg. On 28 February, he would have celebrated his 100th birthday. A portrait…
Three scenes that blend together into a single image: “Preserve that which is entrusted to you and never disappoint the Apostle.” This was the legacy his mother wrote into his soul in January 1964, shortly before she passed away. At this point in time, Arno Steinweg was still a District Elder.
A year and a half later, he received the Apostle ministry at the hands of Chief Apostle Walter Schmidt. “Preserve, protect, and perfect”—this was the mission that the Church leader conferred upon him after the shattering events associated with the “Botschaft” period. Chief Apostle Schmidt was to leave his mark on Arno Steinweg like no other leader had ever done.
“I hereby commend the Church into your hands, just as I received it from District Apostle Knigge,” he said in October 1993. By this time, he had already led the New Apostolic Church in Lower Saxony and West Berlin for a quarter century. And now he was able to hand the keys to the head office to his successor, a man who was completely different from himself.
Preserving and perfecting
Steadiness was the profile of District Apostle Steinweg. But that did not necessarily mean standing still.
Whereas his predecessor had ensured that the growing congregations would even have places of assembly at all, Arno Steinweg turned these rented, provisional spaces into something more permanent. So it was that numerous buildings owned by the Church came into being: they were small, but nicely constructed, furnished with carpets, softly lit, with a cosy atmosphere.
And even though he was not necessarily a fan of changes, District Apostle Steinweg did initiate a few of his own: for example, already in the 1980s he campaigned for a new understanding of the Chief Apostle’s authority of the keys—a precept which has actually been in effect since 2001.
Blessed with divine gifts
Arno Steinweg displayed a special gift at the altar: “In his clear, striking preaching, he was a splendid example,” recalls Apostle Klaus Katens. “His services for the departed were particularly moving,” adds retired District Apostle Wilfried Klingler, “and not because of any emotional banter or speculation, but because of the beautiful verbal images he created.”
The charism of devotion to his fellow human beings was something that first took some time to develop, relates his son, Peter U. Steinweg, who served as his chauffeur for about a decade and a half. In his time as a District Elder, Arno Steinweg would let his wife get out of the car before him to greet the waiting ministers. That was how he knew all the names he had not been able to remember. In later years, however, he knew every family and was well acquainted with their circumstances.
A third gift was more active behind the scenes, namely the sensitivity to distinguish between personal feelings and divine inspiration. There was the case of kidney failure, where he hinted partial healing, which actually occurred. However, there was also cases where he remained silent: “I would gladly have spoken a word of authority,” he said on the way home, “but that only works when you have the green light from above.”
Thus it was at District Apostle Steinweg’s funeral in August 1994 that it was anything but flattery when Chief Apostle Richard Fehr said, “He was a revealer of the wisdom of God.” He was a sensitive man with a heart for eternity.” And “he was a great man of tremendous humbleness.”