The generational shift has begun at the highest levels of the New Apostolic Church: over the course of this year that is now drawing to its close, two District Apostle Helpers have been appointed as District Apostles, and a new Helper has been assigned—all according to plan.
In North and Central America
A man of faith and a man of love, a wise leader and a leader filled with courage—and above all, a true friend: these were laurels that Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider bestowed upon American District Apostle Leonard R. Kolb. The 67-year-old retired at the end of September after 50 years of ministerial activity.
His working area stretched across the entire USA, but also incorporated the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Venezuela.
The man now responsible for this region is John Schnabel. The hitherto District Apostle Helper was appointed a District Apostle in the same divine service. The 59-year-old lives just outside New York, has four children and four grandchildren, and was an investment manager by profession. In addition to his mother tongue of English, he also speaks Spanish.
In Southern Africa
Leadership strength in a mixture of wisdom, love and determination, strong faith and great trust in God, as well as infectious joy and enthusiasm: it was with these “flowers” that the Chief Apostle showered South African District Apostle John L. Kriel. The international Church leader retired the 67-year-old at the beginning of December after 46 years of service in various ministries.
The latter was responsible for the entire country of South Africa, as well as Botswana, the Falkland Islands, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mozambique, Namibia, Réunion, the Seychelles, St. Helena, and Swaziland. This region has now become the working area of the hitherto District Apostle Helper Peter Lambert, who was appointed District Apostle in the same divine service. The 59-year-old is well-known across the Regional Church. From 1989 to 2017, Peter Lambert served as head of music of the Cape and South African Regional Churches, during which time he composed hymns for the hymnal and choir hymn collection.
In the coming year
Further changes of the guard are already becoming apparent in the leadership of other New Apostolic Regional Churches too:
- for example, Thomas Deubel was assigned a District Apostle Helper in September 2023. He is expected to succeed District Apostle Jürg Zbinden in Switzerland in the second half of the year 2024. In addition to Switzerland itself, this area of responsibility includes Austria, Bulgaria, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Gibraltar, Hungary, Italy, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain.
- Stefan Pöschel was already assigned as District Apostle Helper for the Regional Church of Western Germany on 12 December 2022. He is to take over its leadership from District Apostle Rainer Storck in June 2024. This German Regional Church also incorporates the countries of Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cyprus, East Timor, Egypt, France, French Guyana, French Polynesia, Gambia, Georgia, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Jordan, Kosovo, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mali, Malta, Martinique, Mauritania, Morocco, New Caledonia, the Netherlands, the Netherlands Antilles, Niger, Portugal, Senegal, Suriname, Syria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Tunesia, and Turkey.
According to the Chief Apostle, the increasing number of District Apostle Helper assignments follows a clear strategy: the demands on the District Apostles are immense, especially in a world that is becoming more and more complicated. For this reason, one cannot simply throw new leaders into the deep end of the pool and see whether they sink or swim. Rather, it is important for future District Apostles to have the opportunity to familiarise themselves, to become acquainted with their working area and its people, and to gain some initial experiences in working together in the District Apostle Meeting.