“Freiberg Temple Dedicated, Saints Rejoice,” Ensign, Sept. 1985, 73–74
It was something Church members in the German Democratic Republic a few years ago had never dared hope to see in their lifetime—a temple of God in their own land. But it became a reality as President Gordon B. Hinckley, acting under the direction of President Spencer W. Kimball, pronounced the dedicatory prayer on the Freiberg Temple.
He expressed gratitude “for all who have made possible its building—the officers in the government who have given encouragement and made available land and materials, the architects and builders, and all who have made possible this glorious day of dedication.”
He referred to the temple as “the offering of thy grateful sons and daughters,” and added: “Thou knowest how long we have prayed that we might have a temple in our midst.
“We are met here today as people of various nations bound by a common love for thee our Father and thy Son, the Redeemer of all mankind. We thank thee for the peace which makes this possible and for the hospitality of this nation in permitting us to join together in this house of sacred worship. Our hearts are touched by the bond of fellowship we feel one with another. Strengthen that bond, and may we reach out in a spirit of love and appreciation and respect for one another,” President Hinckley petitioned.
He asked for the protection of heaven upon the sacred edifice, and for the blessings of a loving Heavenly Father upon those who go there worthily. “May they reach out with love to their fellowmen, walking in righteousness and faith as becomes the Saints of God.”
The temple has already provided ample opportunity for Saints to reach out to others. It is built to serve some six thousand Church members in the German Democratic Republic and neighboring countries, but many, many more—89,789 visitors—toured the temple during the eleven-day open house before its dedication, in seven services June 29–30.
Many of the visitors waited in line for up to six hours, sometimes even during rainstorms. Crowds were so large that the hours of the open house had to be extended from 8:00 A.M. to after 10:00 P.M. on some days.
Visitors first entered the meetinghouse in the adjacent Freiberg Stake Center, where they were shown a locally produced slide show explaining the purposes of temples and discussing baptism for the dead. Guides and exhibits in the meetinghouse explained Church programs. Then the visitors entered the 8,000-square-foot temple. They were asked not to speak while inside it; as a result, the impression of peace and serenity they felt in the building was very strong. One guide noted that many visitors dabbed away tears from their eyes in the celestial room, and his wife overheard one older woman whisper, “This is just like heaven.”
“The reverence they showed for someone else’s religion was very, very genuine,” a Church member commented.
One Church member who attended the dedication recalled that she “practically cried for joy throughout the session.” Another German member, impressed by the “deep spirituality” of the service, wrote to a relative in the United States several days later: “We are still under the influence of this session of the dedication. The people were deeply impressed.”
Still another member noted that a handful of Czechoslovakian Latter-day Saints attended one of the dedicatory sessions and were visibly moved.
At services marking completion of the Freiberg Temple June 28, President Hinckley told those assembled that “five million five hundred thousand members of the Church from all over the world rejoice with members of the Church in this part of Germany in completion of this house of God.”
Church members, he said, “are taught to live in peace in the gospel of love and brotherhood. God is our Eternal Father. All of us are his children. We are all brothers and sisters, and it is our responsibility to help one another, to bring peace and brotherhood throughout the world. All that takes place in the temple will be done in that spirit.”
Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Council of the Twelve spoke, noting that “the pride of loving hearts of Church members in this part of Germany has gone into the building, along with their sacrifice. From the depth of my heart, I say, ‘Thank you.’”
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the First Quorum of the Seventy, President of the Church’s Europe Area, also spoke. Other General Authorities attending the services included Elder Wm. Grant Bangerter of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Executive Director of the Church’s Temple Department; Elder John Sonnenberg of the First Quorum of the Seventy, formerly a member of the Europe Area Presidency and now Pacific Area President; Elder Hans B. Ringger of the First Quorum of the Seventy, one of Elder Wirthlin’s counselors in the Europe Area Presidency; and Presiding Bishop Robert D. Hales.
The June 28 services consisted of speeches, presentations, and the placing of the temple cornerstone. At the services, Herman Kalb, representing the German Democratic Republic’s religious ministry, presented a formal letter of welcome and appreciation to Church leaders. In return, he received a leather-bound, specially engraved letter from the Church expressing appreciation for government cooperation during construction of the temple.