Music, divine service, and fellowship: the 2023 Pentecost festivities electrified New Apostolic Christians around the globe. The conditions for the South African hosts, however, were anything but easy.
Even a few days later, New Apostolic groups on social media are still abuzz: “I’ve never experienced a Pentecost like this before!” “I’m still completely overwhelmed.” “What a pity that Pentecost is over already.” Hundreds of such reactions can be found on social media.
One congregation around the globe
The divine service in our Tafelsig church was the highlight and closing event, and was perceived as extremely motivating all around: “Trust in the gift of the Holy Spirit,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider had called out to the Church members.
“Our goal is to enter eternal fellowship with God,” he said. “To do this, we must become like Jesus Christ. He is the one who loves and serves. We can also do this because we have received the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is just a question of really wanting it.” Thanks to the live webcast, the divine service had many hundreds of thousands of participants around the world.
Music sets the tone
Everyone agrees that the music performed by the South African brothers and sisters, both during the divine service and the Pentecost concert in the Silvertown Auditorium, contributed to this special Pentecost experience.
On Saturday, the choir, children’s choir, and orchestra had presented a wide range of styles from opera to pop music: from the “Chorus of the Hebrew slaves”, also known as “Va, pensiero”, from the opera Nabucco to the “Circle of life” from the Disney classic The Lion King. And Sunday still echoes in the hearts of brothers and sisters all over the world, especially with the final piece “Spirit renewed”.
Not just in big halls
South Africans know their music, and this was not only evident in the large halls or churches, but also in the smaller congregations in the Western Cape on Wednesday evening. The District Apostles had fanned out to various congregations for the midweek divine service.
District Apostle Leonard R. Kolb from the United States, for example, visited the congregation of Heideveld. At the end of the service, the choir performed a special arrangement of “God is our strength and refuge”, number 179 from the English hymnal (in the video).
Beyond the glitter and glamour
At the beginning of the final hymn in Heideveld, there was a blackout in the church building. And on the way home, the whole area was plunged into darkness. These blackouts were caused by power cuts. By rationing electricity, the South African government is trying to stop the national grid from collapsing—a measure that European countries such as Switzerland may also resort to if necessary.
The District Apostle Meeting also had to contend with forced blackouts on Thursday and Friday. The leaders of the Church sat in the dark every now and then until the hotel’s diesel generators kicked in. So from the start, the organisers relied on emergency generators to ensure uninterrupted live broadcasts of the concert and the divine service.
Yet power cuts are still a somewhat smaller problem in the lives of South Africans considering an unemployment rate of about 35 per cent and one of the highest crime rates in the world, which make tragedy a part of daily life. With this Pentecost feast, the brothers and sisters have proven what the Chief Apostle formulated in the divine service: “If this Spirit dwells in you, lives in your heart, you can do what is impossible for human beings.”