Happy 79th birthday to everyone’s favorite ‘German Shepherd’

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles turns 79 years old today. Born on Nov. 6, 1940, he has served as an Apostle for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2004. Elder Uchtdorf is also the chair of the Missionary Executive Council.

In October of this year, Elder Uchtdorf returned to his home in Frankfurt, Germany, to rededicate the Frankfurt Germany Temple. In the spring, Elder Uchtdorf visited Latter-day Saints in Brazil and in Austria and Germany. In 2018, he also visited Russia and England as a part of his ministry.

To celebrate Elder Uchtdorf’s birthday today, here are ten memorable moments from the past two years along with some of our favorite photos from his life.

Dieter (2nd from right) and his sister Christel (right), 1944 Klein-Kunzendorf, CSR.
Dieter (2nd from right) and his sister Christel (right), 1944 Klein-Kunzendorf, CSR.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf is photographed as a young boy.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf is photographed as a young boy.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife, Sister Harriet R. Uchtdorf, as a young couple in Germany.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife, Sister Harriet R. Uchtdorf, as a young couple in Germany. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife, Sister Harriet R. Uchtdorf, as a young couple in Germany.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife, Sister Harriet R. Uchtdorf, as a young couple in Germany. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

At the rededication of the Frankfurt Germany Temple in October 2019, Elder Uchtdorf said, “I think the temple is a symbol of unity. It is a unity between people of different opinions, feelings, even religions, because we reach out to everyone. And it is a place of unity for those who are members of the Church, in that they come and unite again with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

“So for Germany to have this temple in its heart, in this location, is a marvelous and wonderful thing.”

Getting the assignment to rededicated the temple was a special expeirence for the Apostle who had, 32 years earlier, chaired the temple planning committee prior to its dedication.

From left: Elder Erich W. Koplischke, Sister Christiane Kopischke, Elder Gary B. Sabin, Sister Valerie Sabin, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, Elder Patrick Kearon, Sister Jennifer Kearon, Elder Massimo De Feo and Sister Loredana De Feo gather for a group photo outside the Frankfurt Germany Temple between rededication sessions on Oct. 20, 2019.
From left: Elder Erich W. Koplischke, Sister Christiane Kopischke, Elder Gary B. Sabin, Sister Valerie Sabin, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, Elder Patrick Kearon, Sister Jennifer Kearon, Elder Massimo De Feo and Sister Loredana De Feo gather for a group photo outside the Frankfurt Germany Temple between rededication sessions on Oct. 20, 2019. Credit: Scott Taylor

During his October 2019 general conference address, Elder Uchtdorf talked about the path of discipleship as a “great adventure.” He explained that to begin the journey towards true discipleship, “you need to choose to incline your heart to God. Strive each day to find Him. Learn to love Him. And then let that love inspire you to learn, understand and follow His teachings and keep God’s commandments.”

Do not be ashamed of being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ, he said, encouraging anyone who has felt the stirrings to join the adventure of living and sharing the gospel that the time to start is now.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf as a young man. He trained to become a fighter pilot at age 20.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf as a young man. He trained to become a fighter pilot at age 20. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf as a young fighter pilot in the United States.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf as a young fighter pilot in the United States. Credit: Shaun D. Stahle, Deseret News

In his October 2018 general conference address, Elder Uchtdorf gave two key points for listeners to remember. One was a word from his native language — German — and another was a call to action for members:

“There is a word in German, Weltschmerz. Loosely defined, it means a sadness that comes from brooding about how the world is inferior to how we think it ought to be. Perhaps there is a little Weltschmerz in all of us. … The good news is, there is hope. There is a solution to the emptiness, vanity, and Weltschmerz of life. There is a solution to even the deepest hopelessness and discouragement you might feel.”

“May I suggest that discipleship begins with three simple words: Believe, love, and do.”

In the same address, Elder Uchtdorf poked fun at a phrase that might have developed had the decision been made to call ‘ministering’ something slightly different:

“Great thought was taken to determine what we should call this special emphasis. One of the names considered was ‘shepherding,’ a fitting reference to Christ’s invitation, ‘Feed my sheep.’ However, it had at least one complication: using that term would make me a ‘German Shepherd.’ Consequently, I am quite content with the term, ‘ministering.'”

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf during his time as a young fighter pilot in the United States.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf during his time as a young fighter pilot in the United States. Credit: Courtesy Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Dieter and Harriet Uchtdorf as newlyweds in 1962.
Dieter and Harriet Uchtdorf as newlyweds in 1962. Credit: LDS.org
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf as a young fighter pilot in the United States.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf as a young fighter pilot in the United States. Credit: Courtesy Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

In September 2018, Elder Uchtdorf visited missionaries and members in the Europe and Europe East areas. During his first stop in London, England, Elder Uchtdorf joked with President David W. Checketts, president of the England London Mission:

“Hey, I just saw the new Ferrari out in front; President Checketts, is that your new mission vehicle?”

During his European tour, Elder Uchtdorf told the Church News:

“Whatever has happened, with the wonderful sacrifice of the Savior and our willingness to accept it and move forward, we can change our life and the lives of generations to come in our own families and those around us.”

Later on the tour, in Russia, Elder Uchtdorf spoke to members about serving and missionary work:

“When you serve people you are interested in, they are interested in you.”

Elder Uchtdorf stands left of President Thomas S. Monson as he greets a widow in Goerlitz, Germany, 1995.
Elder Uchtdorf stands left of President Thomas S. Monson as he greets a widow in Goerlitz, Germany, 1995. Credit: Gerry Avant, Church News
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf as a young pilot.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf as a young pilot. Credit: Courtesy Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, standing at center, and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, at his right, join a going-away dinner for 8 volunteers from the Russia St. Petersburg Mission at the mission home on April 25, 2018, prior to their departure to return home the next morning.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, standing at center, and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, at his right, join a going-away dinner for 8 volunteers from the Russia St. Petersburg Mission at the mission home on April 25, 2018, prior to their departure to return home the next morning. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf makes a heart shape with his hands to the devotional goers as he exits through the main seating area after the World Wide Devotional for Young Adults hosted by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf at the Conference Center in Salt Lake Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf makes a heart shape with his hands to the devotional goers as he exits through the main seating area after the World Wide Devotional for Young Adults hosted by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf at the Conference Center in Salt Lake Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. Credit: Adam Fondren, Deseret News

In June 2018, while speaking at the mission presidents seminar, Elder Uchtdorf spoke of two of God’s commandments and the purpose of members of the Church:

“Our loving Heavenly Father gave us two great commandments as our target and divine motive for our service as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are to love and serve God and to love and serve God’s children. … Fail in these two commandments and we fail in all.”

“Our Church service is one of loving and caring for God’s children and has no beginning or end. We don’t finish ministering; we don’t finish loving; we don’t finish praying, and we don’t finish thinking about those whom God has put in our path. … We love and pray for all men and women — even those who hate, curse, persecute or mistreat us.”

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf holds hands with his wife, Sister Harriet Reich Uchtdorf, prior to the World Wide Devotional for Young Adults which was hosted by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf at the Conference Center in Salt Lake Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf holds hands with his wife, Sister Harriet Reich Uchtdorf, prior to the World Wide Devotional for Young Adults which was hosted by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf at the Conference Center in Salt Lake Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018. Credit: Adam Fondren, Deseret News
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, visit with a woman following the April 26, 2018, devotional with members in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, visit with a woman following the April 26, 2018, devotional with members in St. Petersburg, Russia. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorft, enjoy a photo moment with Macy Jane McGhie, daughter of Russia Moscow Mission President Jeffrey D. McGhie and Sister Josie McGhie. Photo was taken April 2018 in Moscow.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorft, enjoy a photo moment with Macy Jane McGhie, daughter of Russia Moscow Mission President Jeffrey D. McGhie and Sister Josie McGhie. Photo was taken April 2018 in Moscow. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

In July 2018, Elder Uchtdorf had an historic visit with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, where he discussed the importance and power of love:

“Love is the bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship, tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Especially as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, love should be our walk and our talk.”

A young man shows President Dieter F. Uchtdorf his temple recommend.
A young man shows President Dieter F. Uchtdorf his temple recommend. Credit: Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf salute the crowd as the arrive for the March 16, 2013, Honduran cultural celebration.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf salute the crowd as the arrive for the March 16, 2013, Honduran cultural celebration. Credit: Jason Swensen, Deseret News
Portrait of Elder Dieter and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, Utah Oct. 6, 2004.
Portrait of Elder Dieter and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, Utah Oct. 6, 2004. Credit: Tom Smart, Deseret News
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland hugs President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, back to camera, after the Saturday morning session of the 187th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland hugs President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, back to camera, after the Saturday morning session of the 187th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. Credit: Ravell Call, Deseret News
The Uchtdorf family in 2006.
The Uchtdorf family in 2006.