With addresses tailored to members from the various nations of Europe who attended the Swiss Temple rededication, President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency related stories of spiritual tenacity and unequivocal hope.
President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, addressed nine of the 10 special sessions Oct. 23-25, and, in the first session, offered the prayer of rededication for the newly remodeled and refurnished temple. In subsequent sessions, the prayer of rededication was read in the language of the majority of members attending each session. Speeches given in those sessions were also translated into the languages of members attending.In addition to General Authorities who spoke during the rededication of the Swiss Temple (please see box on page 3), other speakers were Swiss Temple Pres. Louis E. Ringger and his counselors, Nick Hauert and Max Berryessa, and temple matron, Sister Hilde S. Ringger.
President Hinckley related some of the history of the building of the Swiss Temple, the first temple constructed by the Church in Europe. It was dedicated in 1955 by President David O. McKay. Before being called to the Council of the Twelve in 1958, President Hinckley was sent to Switzerland to help prepare for building and opening the temple.
In a session attended by American servicemen and women stationed in Europe, President Hinckley spoke of the power of the Book of Mormon, and also of contributions to the growth of the Church by members in the military. He related how servicemen were instrumental in helping lay the foundation of the Church in such places as Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines. And he told of the assurance the temple has brought to families whose lives have been interrupted by war.
He spoke of a sealing ordinance in the Salt Lake Temple of a man and his family who joined the Church in Texas during the Vietnam War. "He was due to leave the next day for Vietnam on a dangerous mission," President Hinckley said. "He stood up from that altar at the close of the sealing ceremony and embraced his wife and children. There were tears, but he said, `Now I am not afraid to go. Come what may, I am yours, and you are mine and nothing on earth can separate us from the love we hold for one another.' "
In another session, President Hinckley spoke of the different nationalities of people served by the Swiss Temple. "My passport reads America," he said. "Yours reads Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, or some other nation. But my temple recommend reads heaven. Yours is like mine. You and I can come to this house, and each of us dresses in white. There is no rank, no position, no nationality, but there is cleanliness before the Lord. That is the qualification."
President Hinckley encouraged members to continue attending the temple and promised that, based upon their faithfulness to do so, there would be temples nearer to or in their homelands.
President Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, spoke in all 10 sessions of the rededication. In one session, he spoke of the differences he has seen since the first time he came to Europe. "This temple has lifted us toward heaven, and has been a light toward which all would assemble," he said.
"It has been 24 years since I first went to Germany. Things were different then. A number of saints were behind the Berlin Wall, and their great yearning was to come to this temple, but it was not available to them because they could not leave. They desired patriarchal blessings, but those were not available to them. They desired to mingle with the saints in other parts of the world, but this blessing also was not available. But the Lord recognized their faith and made promises that blessings would come."
President Monson recounted the changes that have taken place, how the fullness of the gospel has now been made available to members in many European nations where it once had been denied. He cited a slogan of missionary work years ago, "Truth Will Prevail," and added: "The work has progressed on the continent of Europe. Gone is the wall. Gone is the oppressive government and realized are the promised blessings."
He spoke of people such as Walter Krause, who went about nations behind the Iron Curtain, giving patriarchal blessings and making home teaching visits to members who otherwise were cut off from the Church.
Of the love and gratitude members worldwide have for temples, President Monson related in one session the story of an 84-year-old man on the island of Takaroa in the Tahitian islands' Tuamotu group. The man, Tahauri Hutihuti, had been a faithful member all his life and longed for the day when there would be a temple in the Pacific. "Patiently and with purpose, he carefully saved his meager earnings as a pearl diver," President Monson related. "When the New Zealand Temple was completed and opened, he took from beneath his bed his life's savings of $600, accumulated over a 40-year span; and together with loved ones, he journeyed to the temple and thereby brought a fond dream to final fulfillment."
President Monson told members in the Swiss Temple district: "None of us need be weary in well doing. That we keep the commandments of God and serve Him with all our heart - that is the spirit of the temple, the spirit of the gospel of Jesus Christ."