28 November 2023

"Prayer works!" - This is the motto for 2024, and Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider explains what is behind it in his New Year's address - a look behind the scenes of the video recordings.

Zurich, Switzerland: the head office of the New Apostolic Church International (NACI) occupies one floor of the building at Überlandstrasse 243. They used to occupy the entire building, but today, the New Apostolic Church Switzerland uses the other floors. This is because Church administrations are keeping an eye on costs.

Setting up the boss’s office

The Chief Apostle’s office is a hive of activity on this November day. The Church leader has not even arrived yet. The NACI Communications Service team is setting up two cameras, a monitor, and other technical equipment to record the 2024 New Year’s message. Is the seat at the right height? Is the camera positioned correctly? Is the lighting good? Everything is ready within two hours—a record time.

Since 2015, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider has been addressing the members of the Church with a spiritual impulse to mark the start of a new year. His message has already been recorded in a studio in Dortmund or in one of our churches in Frankfurt, but it is here in his office that the Chief Apostle feels most at home.

Focus on the annual motto

The boss has arrived. He takes a seat at his desk while the people around him are still wrangling with cables. There is a lot of work ahead for him: project management needs to consult with him. And then there is the signature folder, piled high with documents and requiring a firm grip.

The theme of the 2024 New Year’s message is no longer a secret: “Prayer works!” This is the heading of the first Sunday service in the January issue of the Divine Service Guide , which was distributed a few weeks ago. “Prayer works!” is the motto for 2024. The tradition of these annual message was started by Chief Apostle Schneider in 2014 and is celebrating its tenth anniversary now. The motto then was “Labour in love”.

One speaker, three languages

Now only the speaker has to be set up with a lapel microphone. The Chief Apostle is familiar with lapel mics and a mini transmitter in his jacket pocket from divine services and concerts. He can easily tell whether it is being handed to him by a woman or a man—simply by how neatly the cable connected to it is coiled. He smiles. ‌In one case it is neatly coiled, in the other it is a tangled ball. And today? Well, it is telltale male ...

The cameras are rolling. The audio will be recorded twice. There is only this one session. First German, with a few slips of the tongue, then English, which requires a little more effort, and finally his native French—“to relax”, a technician quips and the Chief Apostle’s eyebrows shoot up. He is used to cameras from church services, but these recordings here are not exactly his favourite pastime.

Everybody wants something from him

Two hours for a total of six rounds. That is also a record. Immediately after, the team starts dismantling the recording equipment. Meanwhile, the co-ordinators of the Divine Service Guide working group still have plenty to discuss. And the finance department is already waiting in the doorway for a word.

For the Chief Apostle, the real work is only just beginning. That afternoon there is a meeting of the Finance Committee. The two-day District Apostle Meeting is slated to start tomorrow. And on Sunday there is a divine service for the ministers, which will be broadcast throughout Europe.