Elder Wirthlin dedicates the island of Cyprus for preaching of gospel

Missionary work in Cyprus is moving forward with the recent dedication by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Mediterranean island for the preaching of the gospel.

During an early morning dedication service Sept. 14, a small group of Saints convened beneath olive trees on a small hillside overlooking the city of Larnaca, on the east side of Cyprus. Nearby was the city wall, built in the 16th century by the Venetians. The large, striking Monument of Freedom was in the background.In addition to Elder Wirthlin of the Council of the Twelve and his wife, Sister Elisa Wirthlin, those present at the dedication included Elder Hans B. Ringger of the Seventy, second counselor in the Europe/Mediterranean Area presidency, and his wife, Sister Helen Ringger; Pres. Blaine C. Tueller and Sister Gene Marie Tueller of the Greece Athens Mission; Cyprus Branch Pres. Elder Gene Hodson and Sister Sandra Lee Hodson, a full-time missionary couple; Beirut Branch Pres. Karim Assouad; four full-time missionary elders; several members of the Cyprus Branch; and a few ex-patriates who live on the island.

Elder Ringger welcomed the group and made brief introductory remarks, and then Elder Wirthlin spoke before offering the dedicatory prayer.

"It is a privilege to be here on this sacred occasion in this beautiful city and on this picturesque and historical island," said Elder Wirthlin. "We pray that the Holy Spirit will be with us on this occasion."

In his prayer, Elder Wirthlin asked that the government of Cyprus would "continue to open its doors for our missionaries."

Continuing, Elder Wirthlin prayed: "May these marvelous Saints who are gathered here this morning, who are few in number, be magnified because of their faith, their love, and their obedience to thee. Let them be a catalyst around which strong units of thy Church will be established. Let thy Spirit be poured out upon the inhabitants of this land. Let the power of the holy priesthood be effective that their hearts may be softened so they will accept the gospel from this time forward."

Elder Wirthlin, in his prayer, also noted the island's "glorious history" as the "crossroads of the early apostles - namely Paul, John and Mark; the birthplace of Barnabas; and a place of refuge for the persecuted Saints in the early Christian Church."

Cyprus is located in the eastern Mediterranean Basin, about 40 miles south of Turkey and 60 miles west of Syria. About 60 miles long and 140 miles wide, it is the third-largest island in the Mediterranean.

An LDS group was organized in Cyprus in 1962 for member families in government service. The group, also called the Nicosia Branch, was dissolved in 1969, reorganized in 1971, temporarily dissolved in 1980 and later reorganized. Currently the branch membership includes 26 people.

In addition to participating in the dedication, Elder Wirthlin and Elder Ringger spoke at a fireside in Larnaca, attended by some 50 people, including an "enthusiastic group" of investigators.

"It was a great privilege to be able to dedicate this beautiful island for missionary work, which already has a solid beginning," said Elder Wirthlin. "It is an island of tremendous historical significance, an area where the early apostles taught the teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

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