LYON, France An open house and an unveiling ceremony held Nov. 26-27 commemorated the 30th anniversary of the Lyon-Ecully Ward meetinghouse, and the occasion also recognized the creation of the third ward in Lyon, indicative of consistent growth in this city in southeastern France.
Mayor M. Ulrich of Ecully attended the open house, and unveiled a plaque attached to the side of the meetinghouse. Also in attendance were President Stephen D. Nadauld of the Switzerland Geneva Mission, and his wife, Margaret Nadauld, former Young Women general president.
Following the event, a night of youth talent in music, dance and theater was presented. The following day, Sunday, a 30th anniversary meeting was held during which all the wards were reunited and former members of the ward came from all over France, including previous bishops and branch presidents.
"We heard edifying testimonies from those who were the builders and witnesses of the accomplishments of the Church in Lyon," said President Daniel Mocellin, president of the Lyon France Stake.
Missionary work in Lyon began with the arrival of President Serge F. Baillif and John J. Toronto in 1908; they were well-received by city representatives and the United States consul. They were followed in a year by two missionaries, Elders J. Allen Spencer and Irel J. Gudmunsen. The first of regular Church meetings took place July 4, 1909, in the Italian Musical Society Hall, with mission President Thomas E. McKay, seven missionaries and 24 investigators in attendance. The first seven converts were baptized in the Rhone River on May 14, 1910.
On Aug. 8, 1979, the Lyon Ward was created (now the Lyon Ecully Ward), and from it have come two other wards and two branches, including the Lyon-Gerland Ward, which was created Sept. 11, 2005. Lyon is also headquarters for the Lyon France Stake.
"Even though the Church in Lyon remained very small at the beginning of the (20th) century, Pres. Bailiff knew that it was the kingdom of God, which was destined to fill our entire region with the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ," said President Mocellin. "We saw the spectacular growth of the Church in these last years. We have the blessing of living at a time where we can offer our faith and our sacrifices to contribute to the kingdom of God."
Bishop Pierre Brenders of the new Lyon Gerland Ward, said that the members had worked hard to become a ward. The goal to become a ward had been shared with the branch members a year earlier.
"In our Gerland Ward, each member is active, feels loved and is motivated and engaged in the work of the Lord," said Bishop Brenders, an associate professor of mathematics at the University of Lyon. "Each of them worked toward the goal. When investigators came, they were welcomed and felt the spirit of unity which resides among the members, as well as their love. Next the baptisms came; some brethren who were prepared to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood were ordained at stake conference. Each received a responsibility, and each was encouraged to come closer to the Savior by praying, studying the scriptures, and obeying the commandments in a manner to be qualified to hold a temple recommend.
"We have committed ourselves to follow the words of our prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, and the teachings the stake presidency gives us."