Welfare moment: 'These stakes are a place of refuge'

Elder Theodore M. Burton, a General Authority Seventy, related the following story during a general conference address in April 1962:

In February of this year we had a terrible storm which crashed down upon Northern Europe. The wind blowing in from the North Sea drove the water up the rivers, and we had a terrible flood in the area around Hamburg. We were very concerned. ...

I had reports from that area on Saturday night, and the president of the stake said they had things in hand and were working to care for the people but were concerned about some of the members. The amazing thing was the way our wonderful brethren there immediately sprang into action and took care of their own people. The president of that stake and his counselors with some of the members of the high council visited the bishops, checked on the saints, found what was needed, and took care of them. They located and helped flood victims, for many of our people lost all their belongings. They lost their furniture, they lost their clothes, even the wallpaper was washed off the walls, and the homes were filled with slime from the floods, but miraculously all their lives were saved. ...

When the call went out to gather food and clothing, they brought so much material into the Altona branch house that the bishops had to tell the people, “We have enough. Don’t bring any more.” The sisters spent their time sorting the clothing (it was good clothing that was brought in) and making sure that all the people who received clothing had proper fit and suitable attire.

The local Saints helped one another. And the greatest testimony of unity for me, brothers and sisters, was to see how the presidents of other German-speaking stakes sprang to the rescue. Berlin telephoned over and asked if they could help, and Switzerland and Stuttgart, without even bothering to telephone, started up their relief action and gathered sums of money, which to us were really large in terms of German marks, and sent that money to President Panitsch, offered food and clothing, and telephoned to ask if they could give more help.

So you see, they are working together, and those wonderful German and Swiss Saints in our European stakes held together as one people. It is a thrill to see such unity. I thought to myself, truly these stakes now are places of refuge and safety. Zion is where the pure in heart dwell, and these are true stakes of Zion. My heart swelled with pride for our Saints in Europe.

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