(24.02.2014) Since the end of November, each divine service transmitted by satellite is preceded by a five minute film to give the divine service visitors an outlook on the first International Church Convention (ICC) and the coming Pentecost Feast. The first transmission took place on November 24, 2013, when Jean-Luc Schneider, the international church leader held a divine service in Rostock that was transmitted to the congregations of the district apostle area Northern Germany. Since then the film has been shown in many other district churches and is now available for download.
"Prince of Peace" is the name of a work by Ralf Grössler. It musically handles various stations in Jesus' life, ranging from birth and temple scene up to crucifixion and resurrection. In the process, completely different styles merge into a harmonic entity.
The symphonic oratorio combines church music traditions such as choral and Latin hymns with modern styles such as gospel and musical and is therefore extremely versatile and full of suspense. The range extends from Gregorian chants via German chorals up to English pop elements.
On Friday, June 6, 2014, at 9:15 p.m. a development of the gospel oratorio out of the creation from Ralf Grössler will be performed at the International Church Convention in the Event-Arena of the Olympic Park in Munich by the gospel choir “GOOD NEWS” of the New Apostolic Church in the region Nürtingen under the musical direction of church musician Martina Sturm.
The editors spoke with Martina Sturm concerning the project:
How did the idea with the gospel choir arise?
"The rector of the congregation in Weilheim/Teck approached me in the summer of 2011 and asked if I would be interested in preparing a few pieces of modern church literature for the congregation's 90-year anniversary with the congregation choir of about 20 voices. And after these performances it continued … further interested singers - also Protestant and Catholic - from surrounding congregations joined in, and at the end of 2011 our gospel choir already comprised about 70 members.
We made appearances on various occasions in 2012 and 2013, for example as a fundraiser for a church refurbishment or at the regional horticultural show in Nagold.
Our first project "Body & Soul" based on the work from Lorenz Maierhofer was followed in 2013 by the second project "Prince of Peace". This work is challenging since it is an arrangement for two choirs and places high demands on the voices due to the different styles. Since the initial performances of the gospel oratorio resulted in a good resonance, the idea arose that this work could be presented at the Church Convention in Munich. For what could fit better to a Church Convention than a description of Jesus as the central point of our faith? Music is certainly one of the best possibilities for building inter-confessional bridges!"
How did you come across this work "Prince of Peace" by Ralf Grössler?
"As choirmaster one is permanently looking for new, interesting literature. I was fascinated in this work by the unusual versatility of styles and highly suspenseful combination between church music traditions and modern stylistic elements. I always find it important to offer appealing and topical choir literature which emotionally captures the singers as well as the listeners.
Enthusiasm for the glad tidings of the gospel is always a focal point for me. I am expectantly looking forward to the performance at the ICC!"
Lorena, 19, New Apostolic: "I participated in one of the first trial choir practices because I like modern choir literature. Then I was asked to try a solo, and so I have simply remained."
Ute, 53, Catholic: "I heard the choir at a concert and I was so electrified that I wanted to join in! I find the diversified modern choir literature to be extremely fascinating. In addition, I feel that I am being "carried" by the fellowship I experience there, and this repeatedly gives me new strength and energy."
Norbert, 50, New Apostolic: "I am glad that there is an additional possibility for modern, emotional and demanding choir literature because I particularly relish gospels. I am fascinated by this music and the wonderful fellowship in the choir, and my two daughters also love to be present in the practices and performances."
Annemarie, 65, Protestant: "It had been my desire for a long time to sing in a large choir. I know Ms. Sturm as choir conductor, and when I heard of this project I absolutely wanted to join in because I like singing church choir literature most of all."
Heidi and Willy, both 58, New Apostolic: "We were interested by the offer of modern, emotional choir literature extending beyond classical music. The joy in music and the fellowship in the choir delight us."
Annette, 51, Catholic: "I have already sung with Martina Sturm in a church choir conducted by her. When the offer was made to join a gospel choir, I was highly interested. I am fascinated by the high quality of the music and the choir practices. I also find it enthralling to have encounters with other confessions, to learn from one another, and to experience respect and tolerance."
The International Church Convention 2014 (ICC) is drawing closer. Just a few more months until New Apostolic Christians from all over the globe will come together in the Munich Olympic Park at Pentecost for a three-day feast of faith. Planning for this huge event is already running at full speed. As part of the preparations, a five-hour basic training on the topic of safety and organization took place in the congregation Ulm-Ost on Saturday, February 8, 2014.
The thrill of anticipation and the great motivation of the 50 voluntary helpers was clear to see. Some had travelled more than 200 km, and all were sincerely greeted by Angelika Schindler, the training manager. All had registered in the online helper portal on the ICC website and had now come together to be trained as voluntary stewards. A task of the approximately 1000 voluntary stewards will be to support the security service of the Olympic Park. Functions will include entry controls, keeping escape routes clear, securing the stage, control of streams of visitors, missing person reports, and evacuation.
The theoretical part of the training was followed by practical exercises. For example, the participants learned: How do I correctly carry out a bag search? When does one form a safety chain? How do I react to a flash mob? Angelika Schindler explained: "Our task is to convey security so that everyone can fulfil his tasks with a good feeling. Therefore we practice situation-related scenarios."
Angelika Schindler from the congregation Fürstenfeldbruck, together with Roland Günther, will be responsible for the safety and organization function at the ICC and will hold many more training sessions in the whole of Germany. She and her team already gained important experience at the South German Youth Days in 2011 and 2012 which also took place in the Munich Olympic Park.
However, organization of the ICC is a far greater challenge, and 1,800 voluntary helpers are required for various functions in order to manage the event. For between 40,000 and 60,000 visitors are expected. Therefore Angelika Schindler gave the participants homework for their congregations: If each one could convince one other person to help along, that would be fantastic."
In an interview with the ICC editorial staff, Angelika Schindler reports in detail of the versatile tasks of the voluntary helpers. And also provides valuable tips so that the ICC can become a personal feast for every visitor. You can read the interview here.
(18.02.2014) With an intimidating, menacing expression the gigantic and notorious warrior, well-protected in a monstrous coat of mail, scrutinizes his opponent. Opposite him stands a slip of a boy, a young shepherd, solely armed with a sling and stones. An unequal duel.
What must the young David have felt like at that moment? The composer Klaus Heizmann (born 1944) gives a musical answer to this question with the forceful Psalm setting "The pangs of death surrounded me". This composition belongs to the modern oratorio David – Singer, King and Poet which is part of the program at the International Church Convention.
At 8:30 p.m. on Friday, June 6, 2014, 160 musicians from Middle Germany wish to fill the Olympiahalle with tones and emotions. They have been preparing themselves for the rendering of the David oratorio since summer last year – as a project ensemble specifically founded for the ICC. The audience will be accompanied on a journey through David's life, from his calling and anointing to king, via his battle with Goliath, his friendship with Saul's son Jonathan, up to the death of the king.
From all corners of Middle Germany
"The music primarily differs from the standard church music encountered in the New Apostolic Church as a result of its variable tempi and inexhaustible timbres. But the difference is not so great that classically shaped singers and audience are overtaxed" names Manuel Helmeke, the musical director of the project, one of the reasons why the decision was made in Middle Germany to perform this work. "Many modern oratorios are also highly dependent on solo voices. Therefore only a few oratorios could be considered for our choir project", supplements the conductor. Although the professional soloists Marie Henriette Reinhold (mezzo-soprano) and Philipp Jekal (baritone) make large contributions, it is the choir which dominates in the David oratorio.
It is, as Manuel Helmeke says, a project for everyone. "There were no admission standards and no age limits." The choir comprises 120 voices from several generations who come from all four Apostle Districts in Middle Germany. It is a challenge to form a harmonic ensemble on such a basis. The choir and 40 musicians in the orchestra come together once a month for a day's practice in the region of Halle/Leipzig from which most of the participants come. They are all working towards a great goal with motivation and commitment: to provide ICC visitors with a lasting memory of a fascinating concert experience.
(27.02.2014) The New Apostolic Church South Germany regularly produces a 15-minute radio broadcast which is aired on the station "Bayern2" once a month on Sunday morning. On February 9, 2014, the ICC was one of the two topics dealt with in the program. Bishop Paul Hepp, deputy leader of the Apostle District Munich and member of the ICC planning group, answered the questions of the station's editorial staff. The broadcast of February 9 can be heard here (only in German). The complete interview with Bishop Hepp with english subtitle (please switch it on) can be seen here:
(February 8, 2014) Not only the planning and preparations for the first International Church Convention in Munich over the Pentecost weekend are running at full speed – the registrations for the coming "feast of faith" are also increasingly gaining pace.
In the meantime, more than 35,000 participants have registered for the Church Convention via their congregation. Numerous registration lists were submitted especially in the last week in January, the end of the registration phase via the congregations, and these are now being evaluated.
From now on, registrations for the International Church Convention can be made online or by telephone. Registrations via the congregations are now no longer possible.
The prices for the various tickets are between 10 euros for a 1-day reduced ticket and 60 euros for a 2-day family ticket. There will also be a box office on the grounds on Friday, June 6, 2014 and Saturday, June 7, 2014.
On the three days of the Church Convention from Friday, June 6 to Sunday, June 8, 2014, participants will be offered a highly varied program with lectures, workshops, discussion forums, music, and much more. The program booklet – the ICC Guide – is currently being produced, and each registered participant will receive a printed copy. The Guide will present the complete program for the Church Convention in detail so that it will be possible for you to already compile your own special program for the Church Convention in advance.
The absolute highpoint of the first International Church Convention will be the divine service on Pentecost Sunday, June 8, 2014, which will be held by the international church leader, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider, in the Olympiastadion and to which all participants at the Church Convention are invited. For all those not participating in the Church Convention, the divine service will be transmitted to many church congregations throughout Europe by satellite.