Opening divine services of the New Year
Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider kicked off the year 2020 with a divine service in Neuchâtel, the French-speaking capital of the Swiss canton of Neuenburg. His core message: “Christ makes free!”
The New Apostolic motto for the year 2020—“Christ makes free”—is now in effect around the world. As usual for a number of years now, the international Church leader also published an annual motto on 1 January of this year on the online pages of the New Apostolic Church. For him this message is intended to offer encouragement, inspire members to concentrate on the essentials, and provide uniform direction—despite all other differences.
His divine service in Neuchâtel was transmitted by satellite and internet to the congregations of Switzerland, as well as to a number of European and West African countries, where French is the official language.
Southern Africa: “Christ makes free!”
The congregations of the Hex River district in the South African province of Western Cape were looking forward to gathering together with their District Apostle John Kriel. He likewise based his sermon on the Bible text from Galatians 5: 1: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.” The meaning of this statement goes in two directions, said the District Apostle: “On the one hand, Christ wants to liberate us—but on the other hand, we must want to be liberated.”
Western Germany: Starting off the year with a golden wedding anniversary
Waltrop is located in the northern Ruhr area, and the congregation there is part of the District Church of Western Germany. This is the congregation that Nicoló Augello and his wife Dietlind call home. Apostle Augello had worked in Brazil for almost 20 years up until his retirement in 2005. His District Apostle Rainer Storck took advantage of the opportunity to dispense a golden wedding anniversary upon the couple.
One of the key statements of the divine service: “Despite the high degree of freedom we enjoy, there are also rules to which every human being must adhere. Only God is free from all restrictions: He is omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient.”
Southern Germany: Introduction of a new Apostle
The District Church of Southern Germany has had a new Apostle since the start of December. Andreas Sargant will now assume responsibility for the Apostle district of Munich. His District Apostle Michael Ehrich came to this district—more specifically, to Nördlingen—to start off the new year, and at the same time took advantage of the opportunity to introduce the new Apostle. There was also an audio-video transmission of the divine service to the church in Gunzenhausen, allowing many members there to enjoy the Apostle’s serving as well.
USA: Small group discussion
And it was not only the first divine services of the New Year that focused on the annual motto. For a number of years now, there have been small group discussions in the congregations of the USA. These groups come together in the middle of the week in order to discuss biblical subjects. And naturally, one of these was entitled “Christ makes free”. The responsible District Apostle Leonard Kolb introduced the theme of the year with a video address that can be seen on the website of the New Apostolic Church USA—along with the accompanying text. A particularly striking excerpt: “Perhaps a phrase you may have heard in the beginning of the year service was that the Lord ‘makes us free by allowing us to be masters of our own destiny.’ This phrase isn’t something we normally hear in divine services, but it is true!”
South East Asia: Typhoons in the Philippines
Christmas and New Year are normally among the happiest days of the year for the people of the Philippines, but things were quite different this year: earthquakes and two typhoons struck the region, and brought many people suffering instead of joy (we reported).
So it was that the annual motto of freedom through Christ took on a whole other meaning. How did Chief Apostle Schneider put it in his video address for the New Year? “Because we know that the almighty God loves us, we can look into the future with confidence. Even in distress, we trust in God. This frees us from unnecessary worries about ourselves.”