Zurich. There are only about four more weeks to go before Pentecost, when a new Chief Apostle will be ordained for the New Apostolic Church. The current international Church leader, Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber, will retire at the age of 65 and will be succeeded in ministry by a French national, namely Jean-Luc Schneider (53). The preparations for this change have already been made, and all Church members around the world are aware that it is coming.
It was on Pentecost Sunday 2005 that Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber assumed the international leadership of the New Apostolic Church. More than 1.5 million believers around the world witnessed the last divine service conducted by Chief Apostle Richard Fehr, who ordained his successor in Wilhelm Leber and then went on to retire after having reached the age limit. Now another change at the head of the Church will take place: Chief Apostle Wilhelm Leber will place his great responsibility into younger hands. An international divine service has also been planned for this occasion. It will be transmitted by satellite to many thousands of New Apostolic congregations around the world.
The Church leader had already announced this step a year ago, and preparations have been underway ever since. In a divine service on 27 May 2012 in Cologne, he appointed Jean-Luc Schneider a Chief Apostle Helper. In the meantime the latter has had sufficient opportunity to get a feel for the many tasks incumbent on an international Church leader. “I want to set the course for the future well ahead of time,” said Chief Apostle Leber a year ago. By the time of his retirement, the 65-year-old Hamburg resident will have served as a minister in the Church for a total of 43 years.
The time has come
On Pentecost, Jean-Luc Schneider will assume the great responsibility of the Chief Apostle ministry. Since last year he has undertaken many international trips and has already transferred the leadership of the New Apostolic Church of France and Southeast Congo to other District Apostles.
About Jean-Luc Schneider
Jean-Luc Schneider was born on 18 September 1959. He has been a member of the New Apostolic Church since childhood. He is married and the father of two children. He has been a District Apostle since 26 September 2004 and, in addition to the District Church of France, has also led numerous other District Churches such as Burundi, French Polynesia, the South Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and New Caledonia.
The Chief Apostle ministry in the New Apostolic Church
New Apostolic Christians believe that “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the head of His church.” So states the Catechism of the New Apostolic Church. It is the task of the Chief Apostle to exercise the office of Peter, namely to preserve the purity of the doctrine and develop it further, to open up new insights, and to assure the uniform spread of this testimony of faith. The Chief Apostle is also responsible for defining the order within the Church and is thus its highest spiritual authority. He is assigned a leadership function in the circle of the Apostles.