The District Apostles Conference (DAC) had decided upon a uniform, international guideline of prayers for LGBT partnerships. Rainbow-NAC welcomed this decision. The Committee had initiated the discussion, pointed out that there were different rules in different districts, and urged a solution.
Since 2009, same-gender couples officially had the opportunity to receive a prayer for God's blessing for their registered civil union or marriage from a minister of the New Apostolic Church. In most district apostle areas they were called a "Prayer for Blessing”. District Apostle Armin Brinkmann produced a guideline for his former work area, the District Church of North Rhine-Westphalia. This guideline was able to be a template recommendation to the DAC which could be optionally used by each District Apostle in his work area or even changed later. This led to great uncertainty for everyone concerned, and to considerable differences in the authorization or dispensation of such prayers.
Uniform International Guidelines
On October 7, 2015, at its meeting in Cape Town, the DAC has now established a uniform, international guideline: In all countries where a legally binding form of same-gender union is possible - for example, a registered civil union or a registered marriage - a prayer for the couple can take place. They are to be called "Commitment Prayers". The terms "Prayer for Blessing" or "Partnership Prayer" will no longer apply.
According to the report on nac.today, in the regions where such prayers are allowed, the following prerequisites must be met:
- The registration of the partnership has to have been legally executed and at least one of the partners has to be New Apostolic.
- The ceremony always takes place outside of a divine service. The prayer is not to be offered in the context of a divine service, but will, as a rule, take place at the couple’s home. Where this is not possible or desired, the church premises may be used.
- The ministers of the Church should receive a handout with guidelines for the implementation of such prayers.
An important step for LGBT members
Rainbow-NAC welcomed the decision of the DAC to create uniform guidelines for prayers for LGBT couples. The decision allows trustworthy, comfortable terms for both the same-gender couples as well as for the responsible ministers. It is also pleasing that the church facilities are expressly provided as a venue - especially if the couple desires to have the prayer done at church. This represents a significant liberalization regarding all existing guidelines in the District Churches. What remains unchanged is that the "Commitment Prayer" is not an act of blessing, and therefore not a dispensation of a blessing. It's just a request to God to bless the couple It's just a request to God to bless the couple. Even though this decision of the DAC does not reduce all differences between gay and heterosexual couples, it represents an important step towards the acceptance of LGBT brothers and sisters.
Rainbow-NAC had brought this issue to the leadership of the Church as an agenda because it criticized newly introduced guidelines for prayers of same-gender partnerships in the NAC of Northern Germany in the Fall of 2014. These were considerably more restrictive than in other areas of District Apostles according to the Committee. The group asked the Church leadership to clarify the situation via their official contact, the Project Group for Marriage, Family and Cohabitation. The subsequent discussion was the reason for this standardized guideline.
Peter Knöpfli, spokesperson for Rainbow-NAC and participant in the talks with the Church leadership concluded: "We are pleased that with this decision, the Church sent an important signal of willingness to cooperate with Rainbow-NAC, and we continue thus with a small step forward on the path of equality for LGBT brothers and sisters in our church."