“Deutschland, ich liebe dich” (“Germany, I love you”), President Thomas S. Monson told members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Hamburg and smiled at the conclusion of the first of four gatherings during a trip to Germany in October 2012. The worldwide president of the Church visited with the faithful in Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, and Frankfurt am Main.
“For many weeks I have been eagerly anticipating this visit to a land and people I dearly love,” President Monson said during the final meeting at the Jahrhunderthalle in Frankfurt am Main on October 21, which was broadcast to Church meetinghouses throughout Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.More than 10,000 Latter-day Saints gathered at the four venues, thousands more attended the satellite broadcast.
At the heart of his messages to German Church members was his exhortation to follow Jesus Christ. “My prayer today is that we will have listening ears, that we might in turn hear His knock, appreciate the invitation of our Lord and have the wisdom to open wide the doorway to our heart and the portals to our mind, that Jesus Christ might come in unto us,” President Monson said in Hamburg.
Those who feel the influence of the Savior, experience a change in their lives and have a desire to serve others, he explained in Berlin. President Monson reminded the audience in Munich that Jesus called fishermen to leave their nets and declared that he would make them fishers of men. All followers of Christ could be fishers of men and women, he said. To the faithful gathered in Frankfurt am Main, he said that Jesus taught by example. He taught forgiveness by forgiving and compassion by being compassionate, President Monson added.
President Monson’s special relationship to Germany goes back several decades. On a cold November day in 1968, he met with Church members inside a damaged warehouse in Görlitz. Touched by their faith, he uttered an emotion filled declaration that would define his Church ministry in Europe. “If you will remain true and faithful to the commandments of God,” President Monson promised, “every blessing any member of the Church enjoys in any other country will be yours.”
Another memorial event for the President Monson was the dedication of what was then the German Democratic Republic for the development of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Early in the morning of April 27, 1975, on a mountainside near Dresden, he offered a dedicatory prayer. He expressed gratitude for the Church in the land, described the faith of the members, and pleaded for a way for the faithful to a temple, a special sanctuary to Latter-day Saints. At this time, the closest temple was located in Switzerland, on the other side of the iron curtain.
During his 2012 trip to Germany, President Monson visited with old friends and associates in Saxony. He returned to Dresden and was given a framed photograph of the dedication spot, overlooking the Elbe River, by Elder José A. Teixeira, President of the Europe Area of the Church.
“As President Monson visits Germany, we all recognize and we are witnesses that his prophetic promise has been fulfilled. What a wonderful blessing it has been for all of us to have him here among us and speak to congregations in Hamburg, Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt. Clearly, President Monson is a man of deep affection for the German people and that love is returned by the people in Germany," said Elder Teixeira.
President Monson’s historic promise in Görlitz, proved to be prophetic.
On June 29-30, 1985, the Freiberg Temple was dedicated, the first temple to be built on German soil. And before the fall of the Berlin Wall, foreign missionaries were allowed to enter the GDR and missionaries from inside were given permission to leave in order to serve missions abroad.
Two years after the dedication of the Freiberg Temple, a temple in Friedrichsdorf, Hesse, was dedicated. Today, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Germany counts 38.500 members, organized in 173 congregations.