Richard Fehr

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Richard Fehr (born July 15, 1939 in Flaach , Canton of Zurich ; † June 30, 2013 ) was a Swiss clergyman. From May 22, 1988 to May 15, 2005 he was the seventh Chief Apostle and thus also the spiritual head of the New Apostolic Church (NAC).


Richard Fehr was born into a New Apostolic home. Fehr grew up on a farm and lost his mother at the age of twelve. Richard Fehr learned the profession of typesetter , worked in this profession and switched to the advertising industry after ten years.

On September 8, 1960, he married his wife Sonja. A son was born from her marriage.

In his retirement, Fehr devoted himself to writing. Several books were written about experiences during his term of office. In addition, he published dozens of novels and short stories under the pseudonym FU Ricardo, the content of which, however, is not necessarily related to his spiritual activity.

Fehr died on the evening of June 30, 2013 at the age of 73. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider held the consolation service, which was broadcast across Europe .

Term of office as Chief Apostle

Because of the serious illness of his predecessor Hans Urwyler , which made him unable to work from the beginning of July 1987, Fehr was commissioned as Chief Apostle Helper and was to represent Urwyler as such. May 3, 1988 Fehr was then Chief Apostle Urwyler in the hospital at Berne in the presence of several District Apostles to the Chief Apostle ordained . He officially took office in a church service on May 22, 1988 in Fellbach.

Until his retirement in 2005, Chief Apostle Fehr held the office of Chief Apostle of the New Apostolic Church for almost 17 years. Before that, he was a District Apostle for Switzerland and other countries (including Italy and Austria) for seven years. Fehr's term of office was therefore formative for an entire generation of New Apostolic Christians and just as decisively influenced the further history of the NAK.

During his tenure, the number of members of the NAK expanded faster than ever before in absolute terms. While the Church had approximately 4.5 million members in 1988, the number at Fehr's retirement was 10.5 million. The intensification of global missionary work also went hand in hand with Fehr's trips to 118 different countries around the world.


Richard Fehr introduced numerous institutional reforms. This includes the abolition of door-to-door missionary work ("vineyard work") in 1991 , the abolition of the second Sunday service and the introduction of the Lord's Supper in the weekly service in 1998, in 2001 the abolition of the doctrine of "key powers" in the dormant system , and in 2002 the final abolition the “ Last Supper pass ” as well as the gradual weakening of the decades-long cult of the Chief Apostle . According to the historian Dominik Schmolz, Fehr intensified the new principle of “personal responsibility” in the New Apostolic religious life, which shaped Fehr's predecessor, Hans Urwyler, and which is one of the most groundbreaking reforms in recent NAK history (see opening process ). In addition, Fehr initiated the development of the Catechism of the New Apostolic Church published in 2012 and professionalized public relations work and church policy with the introduction of project groups involving the Apostles and District Apostles, e.g. B. with regard to dealing with history, ecumenism or dealing with the LGBT community within the church .

Fehr also stipulated that in future the ordination into the Chief Apostle office should no longer be decided after an election by the Apostles' Assembly, but for the first time since Hermann Niehaus through the sole appointment of the predecessor.

In addition, under Fehr there were official discussions with a large number of other apostolic communities that separated from the NAC over the decades. In 2000 and 2001 the first and so far only so-called “apostolic councils” took place at the headquarters in Zurich.

Theological views

During his entire term of office, Chief Apostle Fehr emphasized, sometimes more so than some of his predecessors, the necessity of the near expectation of the second coming of Christ as a central element of New Apostolic teaching . When he took office in 1988 he named his intended "program" based on 1 Cor 16:22  LUT ' Maranatha - Our Lord is coming!'. In the course of this, he upheld the tradition of basing every Pentecost service on a corresponding biblical quote. At his farewell service in 2005, he addressed the Bible passage Mt 24:44  LUT, among others :

“That's why you're ready too! For the Son of Man comes at an hour when you don't mean it "

Fehr was consistently critical of the modern trend towards secularization and its influence on the New Apostolic Church in the western world . To this end, he coined well-known aphorisms such as “Many things have become too much” and “No flattening!”.

Fehr was the last Chief Apostle who proclaimed the belief in the divinity and infallibility of the "message" of his predecessor JG Bischoff . In 1996 he expressed in the church magazine Our Family that the non-fulfillment of the message “ultimately cannot be explained with the mind”, but that this does not question “its divine character”.

At the press conference for Chief Apostle Exchange 2005 known Fehr that he opening of the official body for women for deaconess would support.


When taking office, the NAK was again faced with an internal ordeal, as the separation of the Apostolic Community of Wiesbaden had flared up tangible theological and financial conflicts. In addition, Urwyler's attempt to transfer the Verlag Friedrich Bischoff into church property and his attempts to come to terms with the “embassy time” offered further potential for conflict in the Apostle circle. In this context, Fehr's quote from Emmanuel Geibel on May 22nd in Fellbach explains :

"Anyone who drives after a high goal / learning to sit quietly at the wheel / carefree whether on the keel / splash praise and criticism."

In fact, Fehr was confronted with an unprecedented wave of public criticism, especially during the 1990s, which was, however, supported by former members such as Siegfried Dannwolf, Olaf Stoffel and Dr. Erwin Meier-Widmer was mentioned. Fehr held the critics, who above all had the dogma of religious obedience , the claim to exclusivity , the behavior of the NAK towards the German dictatorships, the handling of the "message", the role of women and the financial situation in mind, in the first years of his tenure opposite. Several times he repeated a statement from 1991 in church services:

“The word 'criticism' is nowhere in the Bible. So it has no place in the work of God [Note: what is meant is the NAK]. "

It was not until 1996 and 1997 that Fehr entered into a dialogue with church critics in divine service statements, written statements and church project groups, whereby - with regard to allegations of indoctrination and spiritual abuse - he also admitted errors of the church in pastoral care . In this context, the first statement on the New Apostolic Nazi history was made .

After his retirement, Fehr revealed that the exposure to the constant public criticism also led to health problems. In 1997 even non-church media speculated about a possible resignation of Fehr. His exposure also led him to polemical reactions, such as on September 26, 1999 in the Franconian court , which District Apostles Wend and Klingler, in their function at the time as members of the “Committee for Special Affairs”, described to church critics as “regrettable emotional slip-ups”.

Various NAK observers attest Fehr that he tried to implement the theological opening to ecumenism, which he publicly advocated in an image video from 2000, even faster, but was prevented from doing so by internal opposition in the apostles' circle. A quote from Fehr a few years after his retirement, in which he referred to a strongly exclusivist divine service statement in 2001 in Tilburg in the Netherlands, could speak for this :

“Due to special circumstances, which should not be explained in more detail here, I once allowed myself to be 'carried away' at a church service in the Netherlands to make a statement that I will certainly no longer make in this form today. Basically I said: 'Whoever wants to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit does not have to make a pilgrimage to Rome or to the cuckoo, but come under the hand of an apostle ...' [...] "

Financial circumstances

A public point of criticism, which was also directed against Richard Fehr as a private person, was the income and financial situation of the couple, which were sometimes described as lavish or untypical for church dignitaries.

The Swiss news magazine Facts published an article on January 11, 1996 that also made waves in New Apostolic circles. The journalist Daniel Dunkel put the net income taxed by the Fehr couple in 1995 at over 300,000 Swiss francs per year, referring to the official tax assessments from 1993 to 1995. He also noted that the couple lived in a condominium in one of the most expensive residential areas in Switzerland, the Zürichberg , live. Andreas Maurer, a former financial expert in the church administration and resigned official from the canton of Bern , also reported to the public broadcaster DRS 2 about what he saw as an inappropriate wage and expense policy of the church. In the same radio broadcast, the church spokesman at the time, Peter Johanning, took a position: he confirmed the correctness of the information on Fehr's income, but pointed out that the couple had additional income (e.g. rental income from inherited real estate), so that the amount in question could not be equated with the church salary be.

See also


  • Richard Fehr: Memories. Lord my life, let it be yours ... , Friedrich Bischoff Verlag, Zurich / Frankfurt am Main 2007
  • Richard Fehr: Considerations of a Retiree. Books on Demand, Norderstedt 2010, ISBN 3-8391-5312-3

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Chief Apostle Richard Fehr went home. In: June 30, 2013, accessed July 1, 2013 .
  2. a b Jens Joachim (May 18, 2005): Leber relies on continuity and change ; accessed on February 2, 2020.
  3. 'spirit' editorial staff: Confess your faith - in the course of time . nac-today; accessed on February 2, 2020.
  4. New Apostolic Church: Festschrift for the Jubilee “One Faith - One Goal. 150 years of the New Apostolic Church ”. Editor: Wilhelm Leber. P. 28.
  5. Richard Fehr: SCHLÜSSELVOLLMACH T. In: Leitgedanken zum Gottesdienst, special issue 3, year 75 March 2001, accessed on November 22, 2019 .
  6. Michael Koch: Old questions - new answers. In: Evangelical Central Office for Weltanschauungsfragen (EZW). 2006, accessed November 24, 2019 .
  7. Dominik Schmolz: Brief history of the New Apostolic Church . 4th edition. Edition Punctum Saliens, Steinhagen 2016, ISBN 978-3-939291-08-4 , pp. 219-220
  8. ^ NAK International (December 18, 2012): Detailed appreciation of the project group work on the catechism ; accessed on February 2, 2020.
  9. Katja Rakow: Recent Developments in the New Apostolic Church: A Documentation of the Opening Process. Weissensee Verlag, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-89998-036-0 , pp. 47-109.
  10. ^ New Apostolic Church International: Council of Apostolic Communities in Europe (September 2, 2000)
  11. ^ New Apostolic Church International: Working meeting of apostolic communities (May 16, 2001).
  12. Michael Koch (May 28, 2005): Finding Time !: Chief Apostle Fehr calls for us to always expect the second coming of Jesus ; Belief culture. accessed on February 2, 2020.
  13. Andreas Rother (May 26, 2018): The nave on course . nac-today; accessed on February 2, 2020.
  14. ^ Archives of the New Apostolic Church in Southern Germany (May 15, 2005): Broadcast worldwide: Solemn Pentecost service in Fellbach ; accessed on February 2, 2020
  15. ^ NAK International (July 19, 2013): Consolation service after retired Chief Apostle Richard Fehr passed away ; accessed on February 2, 2020
  16. 'Our Family', Volume 56, Number 2, Page 19
  17. Jens Joachim, Christian Puffe (April 21, 2006): "As a first step deacon, why not" . current; accessed on February 2, 2020.
  18. Michael Koch (November 13, 2014): Time for Humility (3): What Urwyler failed on the path to reconciliation . Belief culture; accessed on February 2, 2020.
  19. Andreas Fincke: The New Apostolic Church in transition: Between growth and reform backlog. (PDF) Evangelical Central Office for Weltanschauungsfragen (EZW) Berlin, November 1998, accessed on November 29, 2019 .
  20. Dominik Schmolz: Brief history of the New Apostolic Church . 4th edition. Edition Punctum Saliens, Steinhagen 2016, ISBN 978-3-939291-08-4 , p. 224-231 .
  21. SPIEGEL (October 30, 1995): Sects: Extremely strict ; accessed on February 1, 2020
  22. ^ Richard Fehr in: Our Family , No. 12 of 1991, June 20, 1991.
  23. Nina Magoley: "I have been ruined": New Apostolic Church controversial (Part 1). In: WDR. June 3, 2013, accessed November 29, 2019 .
  24. RELIGIONS AND SECTORS: "I have been mentally abused". In: world. Springer Verlag, March 9, 2014, accessed on November 29, 2019 .
  25. ^ Our Family , Jan. 20, 1996; quoted from Schmolz (2016): Brief history of the New Apostolic Church .
  26. New Apostolic Church International: The youth asks - The Chief Apostle answers. In: 1997, accessed November 29, 2019 .
  27. Interview in JUGEND INFO SCHWEIZ, districts of Bern, Basel etc., September 2006 edition
  28. New Week: How does the New Apostolic Church react to the third wave of criticism? . Burgdorf, 13./14. December 1997.
  29. Michael Koch (December 1, 1999): Regrettable slip - UF censored Chief Apostle . Belief culture; accessed on February 2, 2020.
  30. Esther Vietz (May 8, 2007): "Then I'll come back." Interview with Gerrit Sepers . Christ in Dialogue (CiD); accessed on January 30, 2020
  31. Michael Koch (August 26, 2014): Klaus Saur: A journey through time through his work as a District Apostle. Belief culture; accessed on February 2, 2020
  32. ^ Richard Fehr: Considerations of a retired person, Books on Demand GmbH, Norderstedt 2010
  33. ^ Daniel Dunkel (January 11, 1996): New Apostles - A Church Suspected of a Sect . FACTS, 2/1996.
  34. ^ Eggert Blum and Holger Reile (November 27, 1997): KONTEXT . Radio broadcast about the New Apostolic Church. SRG SSR, Radio DRS 2. In: . Copy provided by Georg Schmid .
predecessor Office successor
Hans Urwyler Chief Apostle of the New Apostolic Church
Wilhelm Leber