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German Democratic Republic grants rights for missionary service

The German Democratic Republic (DDR) has granted the Church the right to conduct missionary work in that country and to permit Latter-day Saints from the DDR to serve as missionaries both in their native country and elsewhere in the world.

President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, has just returned from meetings in Berlin with top German Democratic Republic officials, including Erich Honecker, Chairman of the State Council (chief government leader of the nation), and Kurt Loeffler, State Secretary for Religious Affairs."Both Chairman Honecker and Mr. Loeffler agreed that allowing missionaries from other countries to serve in the DDR and permitting Latter-day Saints from the DDR to serve as missionaries in other countries will strengthen friendships among nations," President Monson said.

"Mr. Loeffler expressed his belief that Latter-day Saint missionaries traditionally become goodwill ambassadors, not only for their native countries, but also for the countries in which they serve their missions," said President Monson. "The experience of thousands of missionaries who have served throughout the world convinces us he is correct in his assessment."

The principles of the agreement between the Church and the government were approved during President Monson's meeting Friday, Oct. 28. Details will be worked out in further meetings beginning next month between Europe Area leaders of the Church and the DDR State Secretary for Religious Affairs.

"The government has also granted our members the right to use various facilities for youth conferences and other Church meetings," President Monson said.

He said Mr. Loeffler commented in an interview that the Latter-day Saints have the government's respect because they are law-abiding, loyal citizens who believe in strong families, have a strong work ethic and support the desire for world peace.

"Obviously, there are differences of belief that separate us," President Monson said, "but there are many more things that unite us, including those items Mr. Loeffler mentioned."

The State Secretary for Religious Affairs told President Monson that the Lamanite Generation performing group from Brigham Young University has been invited to perform next year in the German Democratic Republic.

Joining President Monson for the meetings with the DDR officials were Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Council of the Twelve, Elder Hans B. Ringger, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and a counselor in the Europe Area presidency of the Church, and local LDS officials.

While in the DDR, President Monson dedicated a new stake center in Dresden and a recently completed meetinghouse in Zwickau. The Church dedicated a temple in Freiberg in 1985.

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