The executive planning committee of the International Youth Convention of the New Apostolic Church came together, three years before the planned start, on 19th and 20th May 2016, in Düsseldorf. The New Apostolic Church is expecting more than 30,000 youth from all parts of the world on the weekend of Ascension Day 2019 in the capital city of North Rhine-Westphalia. The event is taking place on the grounds of the Messe and the adjacent Arena, ten years after the European Youth Day of 2009.
District Apostle Rainer Storck, head of the New Apostolic Church in North Rhine-Westphalia and host of the event, prayed, in his opening prayer, for God’s guidance and wisdom for the tasks which lie ahead. The challenges to be faced will be tremendous, just as in 2009: more than 30,000 young people, with their guardians, are expected to be in Düsseldorf. The majority of them will be sleeping on the premises in the halls provided. Everyone will be fed each day over three days. In addition, a wide-ranging programme is planned with displays and presentations. Furthermore, various major items will take place in the Arena, including a divine service on Sunday.
The executive planners make their first plans
The executive planning committee, which heads the event organisation, has 25 members and sets the course for the event. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider said, in his words of introduction, that it is particularly important to involve all the district Churches from the outset. Each of the European District Apostles is represented by a member on the committee. From countries beyond Europe, Bishop Samuel Tansahtikno, from Indonesia, was present, representing the District Apostle regions of South East Asia.
The meeting began with a visit to the empty Esprit Arena, with its 45,000 brightly coloured seats. Apostle Franz-Wilhelm Otten is the business manager of the holding company, and project manager, as he was for the European Youth Day in 2009. He said, “When I look at the stadium which we have to fill with the programme and with atmosphere I feel very humble in anticipation of this overwhelming task".
"30,000 young people are looking forward to the event. They will be taking holidays, and saving up to take part. They shouldn’t be aware of the extensive amount of organisation taking place in the background”, he continued as he considered the task ahead. District Apostle Storck remembered the never-ending Mexican wave in the stadium, then at the same time the deep devotion and sanctity in the divine service. “It’s definitely worth having such an event again for our youth”, he said.
New - and members with previous experience
The planning executive team looked back together at the European Youth Day with a 15 minute film. Many of the team were there in 2009, mostly as participants, and some also as event planners. For example, as the group members introduced themselves, Bishop Josef Bleckenwegner (New Apostolic Church Austria) spoke emotionally of the honour of being involved for the second time in planning such an event for the youth.
Thus, the planning team has a mixture of familiar and new faces - new is the Apostle Jeannot Leibfried, representing the youth of France, who created so much joy and emotion in 2009.
The youth of 2009 want to come back
All young people between the ages of 14 and 35 are invited – independent of family status. Many more can come as helpers, because without voluntary support it wouldn’t be possible to organise such a multi-day event. The youth will come; Apostle Otten is certain of that. In the survey which followed the European Youth Day, more than 95 percent of the youth said that they would certainly come again if a re-run followed in the future.
The costs for the event in 2019 are going to be around 9 million Euros. This time, the complete premises of the Messe are going to be available, including the Congress Centre.
Support added by the Düsseldorf Congress
The exhibition corporation “Düsseldorf Congress Sport & Event” is very happy for the relaunch of the European Youth Day. As Markus Demuth, contact person for the New Apostolic Church in the exhibition corporation said, “Our people are still talking today about that extraordinary weekend. We will do everything possible for the International Youth Convention to be just as successful”.
With his team, he led the planners on Thursday morning over the grounds, where another new exhibition is currently being set up. Afterwards, the members of the planning executive met in their conference room to discuss the aims of the International Youth Convention, to gather ideas for the motto and to develop the first programme contents. One thing is certain; the International Youth Convention will not be a copy of the European Youth Day. “We have the great advantage of being able to learn from 2009 and now have the chance to improve on it at the same location”, emphasised Apostle Otten.
Eight project groups
The next meeting of the planning executive is planned for October 2016. In 2017 the focus will be on the precise layout of the programme and musical contents. Registration will begin in 2018, and helpers will also be able to register themselves then.
The newly formed project groups will be gathering further ideas until autumn. The tasks will largely focus will be on the following project groups: for music, managed by Apostle Hans-Jürgen Bauer (South Germany), for contents/exhibitors, under Bishop Axel Münster (Hesse/Rhineland-Palatinate/Saarland, for contents/presentations under Apostle Uli Falk (North Germany) and also for contents/activities. A representative from each district Church is present in the respective project groups for music and for programme contents. The project groups for the Arena, the Messe, communication and accommodation are directed from North Rhine-Westphalia, because that is where the focus of these tasks is located.
Breaking new ground for the Church
Apostle Franz-Wilhelm Otten was very optimistic and satisfied at the end of the two day session as he said, “When we continue with this energy and God grants us His blessing, this will be a wonderful weekend for our youth. It breaks new ground for our Church and will bring a new impulse”.