Bern Switzerland Temple

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Location: In a northern suburb of Bern in a setting with the Alps on the south, and the Jura Mountains on the west and north; Tempelstrasse 2, CH-3052, Zollikoffen, Switzerland; phone: (41) 31-915-5252.

Site: 7 acres, selected July 1952, by President David O. McKay and President Samuel E. Bringhurst of the Swiss-Austrian Mission.

Exterior finish: Reinforced concrete with a creamish gray terra cotta facing trimmed in white. Tower is white base and spire is gold-colored.

Temple design: Modern-contemporary, but similar to lines of early Church temples.

Architect: Edward O. Anderson, Church architect. Re-drawn into German specifications by Wilhelm Zimmer of Bercher and Zimmer Architects.

Contractor: Hans Jordi of Bern.

Rooms: Baptistry, celestial room, four ordinance rooms, seven sealing rooms.

Total floor area: 39, 457 square feet; after remodeling, 39,063 square feet.

Dimensions: 152 feet by 84 feet; top of tower rises 140 feet.

District: 10 stakes and 21 districts in Switzerland, Austria, France, Italy, Albania and Israel (for expatriates).

Groundbreaking, site dedication: Aug. 5, 1953, by President David O. McKay.

Dedication: Sept. 11-15, 1955, by President David O. McKay; 10 sessions. Rededicated Oct. 23-25, 1992, by President Gordnon B. Hinckley; 10 sessions.

Dedicatory Prayer

Done by President David O. McKay

O God, our Eternal Father: On this sacred occasion, the completion and dedication of the first temple to be erected by the Church in Europe, we give our hearts and lift our voices to Thee in praise and gratitude. Help us to free our minds from idle thoughts and our souls from selfish and envious feelings, that in sincerity and truth we may assemble as one in singleness of purpose in love of Thee, of one another, and of all sincere people in the world.

We are grateful that in the spring of 1820, on the American continent, Thou and Thy Son Jesus Christ didst appear to the young man Joseph Smith; that Thou didst introduce the Savior of mankind by saying, "This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!" We are grateful that under Thy guidance and inspiration the Church of Jesus Christ was organized in completeness, with "apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, etc." for the "perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

"Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."

Such is the divine message in these latter days to all Thy children, living and dead!

Through hearing Thy Son, and by obedience to his word, we come to Thee; and "To know Thee and Jesus Christ whom Thou has sent is eternal life."

We are grateful that following the glorious revelation of Thee and Thy beloved Son, Thou didst in this dispensation restore by heavenly messengers the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, and subsequently all the keys of the priesthood ever held by Thy prophets from the days of Adam, through Abraham and Moses, to Malachi who held the power to "turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers" down to the latest generation.

All these rights, powers, and privileges were restored and delivered authoritatively in this, the greatest dispensation of all time.

We are grateful for the Constitution of the United States of America which permitted the Church of Jesus Christ to be established through heavenly messengers, and which grants to every man the right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.

We are grateful for the freedom-loving government of Switzerland, which through the centuries has held inviolate man's free agency and his inalienable right to worship Thee without dictation from any man or group of men whatsoever.

We are grateful that in the completeness of the organization of the Church every member has an opportunity to serve his fellow men having in mind the divine saying—"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

We express gratitude to Thee for leaders of Thy Church from the Prophet Joseph Smith down through the years to the present General Authorities—The First Presidency, the Council of the Twelve Apostles, the Assistants to the Twelve, the Patriarch to the Church, the First Council of the Seventy, the Presiding Bishopric.

Continue to reveal to the First Presidency Thy mind and will as it pertains to the growth and advancement of Thy work among the children of men.

With humility and deep gratitude we acknowledge Thy nearness, Thy divine guidance and inspiration. Make even more susceptible our spiritual response to Thee.

Bless the presidencies of stakes, high councils, presidencies of missions, bishoprics of wards, presidencies of branches and of quorums, superintendencies and presidencies of auxiliaries throughout the world. Make them keenly aware of the fact that they are trusted leaders and that they are to treasure that trust as they treasure their lives.

We are grateful that the members of the Church recognize that the payment of tithes and offerings bring blessings, make possible the proclamation of the gospel to the ends of the world, and contributes to the carrying out of Thy purposes through the building of chapels, tabernacles, and eventually temples wherever churches are organized in all lands and climes.

O Father, we sense that the crying need of the world today is acceptance of Jesus Christ and his gospel to counteract false teachings that now disturb the peace of honest men and women, and which undermine the faith of millions whose belief in Thee has been faltering and unstable, because they have not yet had presented to them the eternal plan of salvation.

Guide us, O God, in our efforts to hasten the day when humanity will renounce contention and strife, when "…nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more."

To this end bless the leaders of nations that their hearts may be cleared of prejudices, suspicions, and avarice, and filled with a desire for peace and righteousness.

As one means of uniting Thy children in the bonds of peace and love, this temple and other holy houses of the Lord are erected in Thy name.

Help Thy people to realize that only by obedience to the eternal principles and ordinances of the gospel may loved ones who died without baptism be permitted the glorious privilege of entrance into the kingdom of God. Increase our desire, O Father, to put forth even greater effort towards the consummation of Thy purpose to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of all Thy children. This edifice is one more means to aid in bringing about this divine consummation.

To this end, by the authority of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood, we dedicate the Swiss Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and consecrate it for the purpose for which it has been erected.

We dedicate to Thee, our Heavenly Father, the ground, the building from foundation to turret, and everything pertaining thereto, including all fixtures and furnishings, and pray Thee to accept it in completeness; sanctify it, and keep it in Thy providence until all for which it has been designed shall have been accomplished.

Enable those who will be appointed custodians to protect it in purity that no unclean person or thing shall ever enter herein. Thou hast said that Thy Spirit will not dwell in unclean tabernacles. Neither will it dwell in a house where unwholesome or selfish thoughts abide. Therefore may all who enter this holy temple come with clean hands and pure hearts that the Holy Spirit may ever be present to inspire, to comfort, and to bless.

May this building ever be held sacred, that all who enter may feel a peaceful and hallowed influence, and may those who pass the grounds, whether members or non-members of the Church feel a hallowed influence and substitute for a doubt or possible sneer in their minds, a prayer in their hearts.

Now, O God, our Heavenly Eternal Father, the faithful membership of Thy Church, through love for Thee and Thy children, have erected to Thee by tithes and offerings this holy house in which shall be performed ordinances and ceremonies pertaining to the happiness and salvation of Thy children living in mortality and in the spirit world.

Accept of our offering, halulow it by Thy Holy Spirit, and protect it from destructive elements and the bitterness of ignorance and wickedness of bigoted hearts until its divine purposes shall have been consummated; and Thine be the glory, honor, and praise forever, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, Amen and Amen!

Rededicatory Prayer

Done by President Gordon B. Hinckley

O God, our eternal Father, on this sacred occasion, the completion and dedication of the first temple to be erected by the Church in Europe, we give our hearts and lift our voices to thee in praise and gratitude.

Help us to free our minds from idle thoughts, and our souls from selfish and envious feelings, that in sincerity and truth we may assemble as one in singleness of purpose in love of thee, of one another, and of all sincere people in the world."

So spoke thy servant, President David O. McKay, when he dedicated this, the Swiss Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 37 years ago. Since that historic day this house has served thy divine purposes for the blessing of thy sons and daughters of all generations. The faithful have gathered here from the lands of Europe to receive sacred ordinances administered through the fullness of the everlasting priesthood. This temple has been a haven of peace in its beautiful surroundings. It has been the house of the Lord to all who have entered herein and felt of its spirit and partaken of the blessings gained while serving here. We thank thee for it and for the accomplishment of thy divine purposes through it.

It has served well through this long period of time.And now, showing the effects of such service, it became necessary to renovate it, to beautify it, and to improve it both inside and out. Having completed this work, we now gather to rededicate it.

Accordingly, acting in the authority of thy divine priesthood we rededicate this, the Swiss Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to thee, our Father and our God, and to thy beloved Son, our Savior and our Redeemer. We rededicate the grounds with the beautiful things of nature growing thereon. We rededicate the foundation and the walls with their new covering of gleaming white. We rededicate the roof and pray that it may shelter thy house and those who serve herein.

We rededicate the interior with all of its rooms and facilities, some of them new, and all made beautiful. We dedicate those facilities wherein are performed baptisms for the dead, which ordinance opens the gateway to eternal life. We dedicate the areas where there are administered the initiatory ordinances by which we are washed and anointed according to thy divine will. We dedicate the endowment rooms where we receive instruction and make covenants with thee. We dedicate the veils and the beautiful celestial room. We dedicate the sealing rooms and the sacred altars found therein, where families are bound together for time and all eternity. We dedicate and rededicate every part and facility of this thy house.

We pray for those who direct the affairs of thy temple that they may be guided by thy Holy Spirit and be possessed with wisdom beyond their own. We pray for all who administer the ordinances that they may do so in a manner acceptable unto thee and in a spirit of reverence. We pray for all who come to this, thy holy house, that they walk in cleanliness before thee.We pray that these facilities may be kept immaculate and beautiful, and that no evil element of any kind may enter herein. We pray that all who enter this thy house may do so with an eye single to thy glory.

We thank thee for this nation of Switzerland, which through centuries of time has been a land of peace while nations round about have been nations at war. May it continue to be a land of peace, a land of freedom, a land of opportunity and an example to other nations of the world.

May no defiling hand ever mar the beauty of this thy sacred house or the grounds standing on it. May it be a haven of peace to thy saints, and be looked upon by those not of our faith as a sacred and beautiful house of God.

We praise thy holy name. We praise the name of thy Son, our Redeemer. To thee and to Him be all glory and honor, forever and forever, we ask as we rededicate ourselves to greater service in thy kingdom in the name of the Savior of the world, the first born of the Father, even the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Swiss Temple: Dedication a bold act of faith

By Shaun D. Stahle

ZOLLIKOFEN, Switzerland — Local Church leaders and three members of the Seventy assembled Sept. 10 near the Swiss temple in quiet services to remember how the dedication of the temple 50 years ago was a bold act of faith that proved to be among the first steps in the Church becoming international.

Today, there are more temples in Europe than existed in the whole of the Church in 1955 when the Swiss Temple was dedicated, said Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the Seventy and president of the Europe Central Area who presided over the afternoon conference.

To commemorate the 50-year anniversary of what is now the Bern Switzerland Temple, the first dedicated outside of North America and Hawaii, a statue of the Angel Moroni was placed atop the steeple earlier in the week on Sept. 7.

Three days later, Elder Hafen, accompanied by Elder Paul Koelliker and Elder Wolfgang Paul of the Seventy, joined ecclesiastical leaders in a conference in a stake center near the temple.

"Leading up to the dedication here in 1955," said Elder Hafen, "the Lord's hand directed every step in building His kingdom in Europe." He related how Elder Lorenzo Snow was sent in 1850 by "revelation of the Lord" to bring the gospel to Italy.

Elder Snow started in the Piedmont Valley near the Italian Alps, teaching the Waldensian people, who, in the 13th century — 300 years before the Reformation led by Luther and Calvin — left the Catholic Church and fled to these mountains to avoid persecution.

Elder Snow named one mountain peak "Mt. Brigham," after President Brigham Young. Here Elder Snow began missionary work in Switzerland in 1851.

After recounting how his Swiss ancestor, John G. Hafen, joined the Church and immigrated to Utah in 1861, Elder Hafen told of President Joseph F. Smith, who, as president of the Church in 1906, "stood here in Bern and prophesied that one day temples would be built all over the earth. On the day he said this, the Church had four temples, all in Utah," said Elder Hafen.

Forty-nine years later, on Sept. 11, 1955, President David O. McKay quoted this prophecy in the first dedicatory session of the Swiss temple, Europe's first temple.

Elder Hafen recounted how, in 1953, a young staff member in the Missionary Department named Gordon B. Hinckley was called into the office of President McKay and given the difficult assignment of devising a way to present the temple ordinances in eight languages.

After weeks of studying the temple ordinances, pleading with the Lord and counseling with President McKay in the Salt Lake Temple, Brother Hinckley proposed presenting the endowment ordinances in movie form. When the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve approved the idea, the fifth floor of the Salt Lake Temple was organized into a sacred movie set where filming took place.

"It was an enormous undertaking that required pioneer-like faith through every step of the filmmaking," said Elder Hafen. In one year they finished the English-language film, then made films for each of the seven other European languages.

Moving the film of the sacred ordinances through Swiss customs without receiving the typical scrutiny and review by custom agents required faith and prayer.

"President Hinckley's 'hands-on' involvement with the European Saints in this temple was as spiritually fulfilling as any experience he had had by 1955," said Elder Hafen.

"In the last 50 years, the Church has become truly international," Elder Hafen said.

In his comments, Elder Koelliker noted how there are now 13 temples constructed or announced within the boundaries of the 1955 Swiss Temple District. He quoted Doctrine and Covenants 127:4 and emphasized the Lord's command to "redouble" efforts toward the temple.

"Some might view redoubling as a way of doing two times as much as previously done," he said. "Redoubling sounds to me like doing much more than just doubling."

He then urged members to increase their commitment toward the temple to more fully use the capacity of the temples.

Elder Paul recounted an experience from his youth that influenced his desire to be sealed in the temple.

"I remember very well the day when my father returned from Switzerland, after he attended the dedication of the temple in 1955," he said. "I was 15 years old at that time. Our family noticed that when he came back, he was somehow different. We could see his testimony of the restored gospel had become stronger. As he told our family about the wonderful spiritual experiences he had at the dedicatory session and described his feelings when President David O. McKay, the Prophet of God, shook his hand, we listened attentively and wished that we could have been with him. Just listening to his words brought the Spirit close to us. This experience had a long lasting impact upon me and I decided that one day I also would go to the temple."

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Swiss Temple Moments: 'Now I understood'

In 1955, as she investigated the Church, Susanne Daetwyler discussed the gospel with her Bible-reading grandparents, who gave their approval for her baptism. Susanne and her husband, Roland, were baptized in Lucerne, Switzerland, that same year. However, her grandparents never joined the Church, and they died less than three years later.

Bern Switzerland Temple
Bern Switzerland Temple | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

"It was during this period that we worked particularly hard on our genealogy," said Sister Daetwyler. She sent many names, including those of her grandparents, to Salt Lake City for clearance for temple work, as was the practice then. The names often took a long time to be cleared, and she lost track of them. The Daetwyler family, which eventually included seven children, moved to Biel, Switzerland, in 1965, about 25 miles north of the Bern Switzerland Temple.

"When our children were still young, my husband and I were seldom able to go to the temple together," she said. "One of us had to stay home and take care of the children."

So they took turns attending the temple during the Biel Branch's monthly temple day, a Saturday. One day in 1968, "I felt a strong desire to go to the temple," she said. "Saturday was not our day to go, and it wasn't even my turn. But the desire became stronger and stronger.

"Early the next morning when I was on my way to the temple, I began to question my decision: 'Why am I going to the temple?' I could not understand my decision, but since I was already close to the temple I decided to go anyway.

"Once in the temple I received a paper slip with the name of the person I would represent while going through the temple. I looked at it and read: Johanna Elisabeth Schweizer Niederhauser, the name of my beloved grandmother who had died in the spring of 1958.

"Now I understood why I had this strong wish to go to the temple. My grandmother was ready for the temple ordinances. This was a very happy day for me and, I think, for my grandmother also."

— Markus Gappmaier

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