Farewell and new beginning: Church amalgamation moves a step closer
Farewell for one, a new chapter for many others: the amalgamation of the District Churches of Northern Germany and Central Germany is coming closer and closer. The course has been set. Initial results are in.
His main concern: the future of the Church. This was what District Apostle Wilfried Klingler had always sought to assure, not only in his traditional working area of Central Germany, but also on an international level. For example, for many years he served as chairman of the Coordination Group, the highest advisory panel to the Chief Apostle. Now the time has come for him to take his leave. District Apostle Klingler will retire in the middle of this year.
And that does not necessarily come easily, especially now that the future of the Church is one of the works in progress at the moment, for instance, as concerns the topic of our conception of ministry. The District Apostle acknowledges this in his interview with Church spokesman Peter Johanning. The video was recorded on the sidelines of the most recent District Apostle Meeting, which was the last official meeting of this kind for Wilfried Klingler. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider also took this opportunity to address some heartfelt words of thanks to the District Apostle for his many years of intensive work.
Church offices have been in contact since 2015
In the meantime, the preparations for the time following District Apostle Klingler’s retirement are well underway in Central Germany. It will be a future shared with the District Church of Northern Germany, because the local District Apostle Rüdiger Krause is to assume leadership for both working areas after District Apostle Klingler retires in June.
The first concrete meetings between the two Church leaders already took place in January 2015. The Apostles and Bishops of the two areas also became better acquainted in September 2015. The meeting in Hannover was captioned by the motto: “Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God” (Romans 15: 7).
Work groups set the course
On the employee level of the two Church offices, preparations for this amalgamation already began at the start of 2015. The first results of this collaboration have already been prepared by the Work Group Common Administration. In the process, the two Church offices discovered that they each adhere to some very different practices and guidelines in some cases. A common intranet platform is to be in place by mid June in order to help implement new regulations.
In addition to the financial experts, the two construction departments have also remained in close contact with one another. It was in this area that the central Work Group Site Development was established. And finally, preliminary efforts for merging the previously separate District Churches into a single common body are already in progress. Bjorn Renz, spokesman for the District Church of Northern Germany, relates that a well reputed law firm is also on board.
Concentration in Germany
The amalgamation had already been announced in October 2014 . The decision had been made “under consideration of the demographics in Germany and the global development of the Church as a whole”. In other words, membership numbers are declining here in Germany as a result of aging membership, while District Apostles in Africa, for example, often care for significantly greater numbers of members.
The new working area will incorporate the German federal states of Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, Hamburg, Bremen, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, and Thuringia. In addition, the new District Church will also be responsible for Poland, the British Isles, and the countries of Northern Europe from Greenland to Estonia.
New homepage coming in June
The New Apostolic Church of Northern and Eastern Germany—that is what the new District Church will be called. This decision of fall 2015 was the result of an online survey of the Church’s members. The most popular proposal, namely Northern Europe, did not quite fit geographically and seemed a little oversized. However, the present compromise formula also garnered broad acceptance in the survey.
To coincide with the retirement of District Apostle Klingler, the Church map will also change on the Internet. At the same time, the two previously separate websites for Northern Germany and Central Germany will go offline, while a new single home page will go online.