New Apostolic Christians from all over the world can tune into this year’s Pentecost celebration on two occasions. Not only will the divine service on Sunday be broadcast but also the concert on Saturday. And the hosting district is quite famous for its music.
The photo has become somewhat of a fixture in New Apostolic circles: 340 gentlemen smartly dressed on what appears to be a stage. This is the description of a group picture taken of all the Apostles of the New Apostolic Church. This was back in 2010, the year in which the traditional Pentecost assembly took place in South Africa—the last time for the time being.
This was by no means a premiere. Already in 2006 the Pentecost celebrations had taken place in Cape Town. And four years earlier, in 2002, South Africa with its capital Johannesburg hosted the event for the first time.
Central divine service in the congregations
This time, we are back in Cape Town: the International District Apostle Meeting will kick off on Thursday, 25 May 2023. And the grand finale will be the Pentecost service conducted by Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider on Sunday, 28 May 2023.
The divine service from our Tafelsig church in Cape Town will be broadcast to thousands of designated churches around the world.
It will start at ten o’clock South African Standard Time (SAST).
Concert on YouTube
Pentecost in South Africa not only paints vivid pictures in our mind’s eye, but is literally also music to our ears. The performance of “Come share the Lord” by the late tenor Manilo Davids on Pentecost 2010 is memorable.
Many brothers and sisters around the globe are excited and looking forward to this year’s Pentecost concert on Saturday, 27 May 2023. It will be broadcast live via the YouTube channel of the Regional Church Southern Africa and the New Apostolic Church International. The concert will be performed at the Silvertown Auditorium and will start at 5 p.m. South African Standard Time (SAST, UTC+2).
The church building in Cape Town is used as a part-time concert hall. The altar is retractable so that the platform can be used as a stage. And this not only sets the stage for choirs and orchestras, but it also set the stage for the famous group picture of the Apostles taken in 2010.
From New Year to Pentecost
The idea of a central divine service on Pentecost is not all that old: until the early 1980s the New Year’s Day service was always the annual event that was transmitted as far abroad as possible—in those days there were only audio broadcasts.
But after tens of thousands of members in the Northern Hemisphere could not make it to the transmissions in their congregations because of ice and snow, and this happened several times, the organisers began to set their sights on the Christian holiday later in the year. Decisive, however, was its significance as the birthday of the church of Christ.
How divine services became a motion picture
The idea for video transmissions of divine services is something that Chief Apostle Hans Urwyler brought back with him from a visit to the United States: from the Easter Sunday service in New York in 1980. This was just the nudge that was needed for the Church-owned Bischoff Publishers to begin teaching the divine service pictures to move. The big leap to international broadcasts came in 1990.
Until 2022, a network of satellites and ground stations facilitated international broadcasts. In the meantime, there has been a switch to IPTV. This development was dramatically accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. As the world went into lockdown, Regional Churches and congregations started to use the internet widely to allow people to join online divine services. What was created as a temporary means has now been given permanent structures.
South Africa had long since pursued its own course in this respect: NACTV, the TV channel of the New Apostolic Church Southern Africa, has been around since 2010. The television channel, with a small and dedicated staff and dozens of volunteers, can be received mainly with a set-top box.