Temple Approved, First Stake Created in German Democratic Republic
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“Temple Approved, First Stake Created in German Democratic Republic,” Ensign, Nov. 1982, 102–3

Temple Approved, First Stake Created in German Democratic Republic

Over one hundred years of faithfulness has culminated in the announcement of a new temple to be built and the creation of the first stake of the Church in the German Democratic Republic.

Plans to build a temple in the German Democratic Republic city of Freiberg were announced by the First Presidency.

The temple will be a 7,500-square-foot, one-level edifice where marriages, baptisms, and other sacred ordinances will be available to members of the Church in the German Democratic Republic, as well as to those in surrounding countries.

A second building planned for the two-acre site purchased by the Church will provide facilities for the recently organized Freiberg Stake. These will include a chapel, classrooms, and administrative offices.

The First Presidency said Henry J. Burkhardt, who presides over the Church’s Dresden Mission, has worked closely with government officials in obtaining approval for the temple. The Church leaders expressed appreciation for the cooperation of the National Ministries in Berlin, the State Building Academy in Dresden, and the city officials of Freiberg.

The temple is now in design stages and Church architects are working closely with government architects to assure the building will be architecturally compatible with its environs. Landscaping for the grounds will be in keeping with the highest standards traditionally associated with temples of the Church. It is anticipated that construction will begin as early as mid-year of 1983 if plans proceed as expected, the First Presidency said.

Upon completion of the temple, and prior to its dedication, public tours will be conducted so all who desire may be able to visit the building.

There are 41 other temples throughout the world, either in operation, under construction, or in various stages of planning.

A month previous to the announcement of the new temple, Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Council of the Twelve created the Freiberg German Democratic Republic Stake at a conference on 29 August 1982. He was assisted by Elder Robert D. Hales, of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Executive Administrator of the Europe Area, and Regional Representative Hans B. Ringger.

Approximately 4,000 members of the Church reside in the German Democratic Republic, almost half of them (1,881) in the new stake, which is located in the southern part of the republic. Elder Monson praised them for their faithfulness, for “activity levels among the highest in the Church,” expressing special admiration for the faithfulness of the youth “who surpass all others in seminary attendance.”

Of the creation of the new stake, Brother Ringger said, “These people have been praying for the blessing of a stake for many years. For them, the meeting was the culmination of years of faithfulness.”

Frank Herbert Apel was called to preside over the new stake, with counselors Heinz Koschnicke and Reimund Dorlitz. President Apel, 42, is owner of a car repair shop and former branch executive secretary and counselor in a district presidency. Both President Koschnicke and President Dorlitz are former branch presidents. Rudi Lehmann, a former district president, was called and ordained a patriarch of the stake by Elder Monson. A full high council was also organized.

In his praise of the newly called and sustained officers, Elder Monson said: “Among the leadership of the new stake is represented long years of faithful service and activity. President Apel served eighteen years in the district presidency. President Dorlitz has served twenty-one of his forty-three years as branch president. The same faithfulness has been demonstrated by President Koschnicke and others who fill new positions in the stake organization.”

Patriarch Rudi Lehmann, who served for over sixteen years as a district president, and President Werner Adler, who has been a district president for eighteen years, are further examples of the many dedicated priesthood leaders who have devoted themselves to creating a stake of Zion.

The organization of the new stake was “a spiritual experience,” said Elder Hales. “During the interviews we were especially impressed with the spirit of these fine people, with their dedication and oneness, with how they honor their priesthood and support each other. When we thanked them, they said, ‘We did it for the Lord.’”

More than a century has passed since the gospel was first taken to the Freiberg area. In 1851 missionaries began preaching the restored gospel in German-speaking Europe. A mission was formally established within a year and translation of the Book of Mormon into German was begun.

In a number of cities, branches of the Church were formed by small groups of members. Several of the Saints living in branches now encompassed by the new stake later became Church leaders. Among them was Karl G. Maeser, first president of Brigham Young Academy (now Brigham Young University).

Many other German-speaking converts also left their small branches in Germany to immigrate to the United States. Until the early 1920s the Church in Germany remained relatively unknown. But in 1921 the general region boasted the largest missionary force in the Church and gained almost 2,000 new converts; these new members were directed to stay in their homeland and build the Church there.

Henry D. Moyle, who later became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and a Counselor in the First Presidency, was among the missionary force of the early 1900s. He spent part of his labor in Freiberg and, following his mission, returned to that city to attend college. For a time prior to World War II the Church in the Freiberg region enjoyed unsurpassed growth. During those years, according to Elder Monson, the area “represented the largest concentration of Latter-day Saints outside North America.”

Since World War II, Church growth in that area has been considerably slower. But through their own efforts and those of visiting authorities, local Church leaders have maintained solid activity. According to Elder Ringger, occasional trips to conferences outside the republic have also helped the leaders accomplish the Lord’s work.

Left to right: Frank Herbert Apel, president of the new Freiberg German Democratic Republic Stake; Hans B. Ringger, Regional Representative; Gottfried Richter, first counselor, German Democratic Republic Dresden Mission; Elder Robert D. Hales of the First Quorum of the Seventy and Executive Administrator of the Europe Area; Henry Burkhardt, president, German Democratic Republic Dresden Mission; Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Council of the Twelve; and Gunter Schulze, second counselor, German Democratic Republic Dresden Mission.