This week in Church history

50 years ago

The Church's first European temple — in Switzerland — was dedicated by President David O. McKay on Sept. 11, 1955, according to the Sept. 17, 1955, Church News.

The temple was built "in the beautiful little Swiss Mountain town of Zollinkofen, some seven miles north of Bern," according to the article.

The Sunday morning dedicatory session of the "shimmering white stone structure" was attended by more than 1,200, including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. There was another session in the afternoon, and two more each day throughout the week, the article stated.

Attending the dedication with President McKay were Elders Ezra Taft Benson, Spencer W. Kimball, Henry D. Moyle and Richard L. Evans of the Quorum of the Twelve.

The article reported, "The scene Sunday was a memorable one as a three-day rainstorm suddenly halted and bright sunshine broke through the clouds to give an almost ethereal beauty to the temple in its setting against the deep green forest of the Swiss mountainside."

Separate dedicatory sessions were held for several missions: Swiss-Austrian, West German, East German, Netherlands, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and French. The sessions were conducted in the language of those attending in what is now called the Bern Switzerland Temple.

The article recorded, "Preceding his dedicatory prayer, President McKay paid tribute to those who had labored so valiantly in the planning and building of the temple and expressed gratitude to the Lord for having answered the prayers offered three years ago in the Swiss Mission home in Basel when a group of five men knelt and prayed for guidance in selecting the city and site for this temple of the Lord."

The text of the dedicatory prayer by President McKay, printed in the Church News, included, "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 a man or group of men whomsoever."

Elder Benson, who later became president of the Church, spoke during the first dedicatory session. He recalled his labors as a young missionary in Europe and also his work for the Church in relief efforts on the continent following World War II. He called the dedication of a temple "probably the greatest event that has occurred in Europe since the gospel was brought here 118 years ago."

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