“Swiss Temple Rededication,” Ensign, Jan. 1993, 77–78
In Zollikofen, Switzerland, there was a celebratory mood in the air as Church members climbed the hill from the train station and car park toward the newly renovated Swiss Temple. People greeted each other with handshakes and the traditional three kisses on the cheek, then took their places in line for the first rededicatory session for “their” temple, which had been closed for the past two and a half years. “I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time,” said Irene Kopp, a member of the Pratteln Ward, Bern Switzerland Stake. “I am so happy to have the temple open again. It is a privilege to have it here.”
The 8,805 Latter-day Saints who attended the ten rededicatory sessions, held October 23–25, shared those feelings. And they manifested their joy by coming early and lingering late, savoring the opportunity to rejoice with Saints and angels that the Lord’s house was open again.
Members came not only from Switzerland but from countries throughout Europe. Services were conducted in German, French, Italian, English, and Spanish/Portuguese; two sessions also had simultaneous translations in as many as five languages.
President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency presided at and conducted the services. Other speakers at the sessions included Elder Dallin H. Oaks and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve; Elder Hans B. Ringger, president of the Europe Area, and his counselors, Elders Dennis B. Neuenschwander and Robert K. Dellenbach; Elder Spencer J. Condie, president of the Europe/Mediterranean Area, and his counselors, Elders LeGrand R. Curtis and Joseph C. Muren; Swiss Temple president Louis E. Ringger and his counselors, Richard N. Hauert and Max J. Berryessa; and temple matron Hilde L. Ringger.
The message throughout the three days of services was that this was also a time for Church members to rededicate their lives to Christ. This was reflected in the dedicatory prayer itself, which began with a quote from the Swiss Temple’s original dedicatory prayer, offered by David O. McKay in 1955: “Help us to free our minds from idle thoughts, and our souls from selfish and envious feelings, that in sincerity and truth we may assemble as one in singleness of purpose in love of Thee, of one another, and of all sincere people in the world.”
The prayer also asked blessings on “those who direct the affairs of Thy temple that they may be guided by Thy Holy Spirit and be possessed with wisdom beyond their own. We pray for all who administer the ordinances that they may do so in a manner acceptable unto Thee and in a spirit of reverence. We pray for all who come to this Thy holy house that they walk in cleanliness before Thee.
“We pray that these facilities may be kept immaculate and beautiful, and that no evil element of any kind may enter herein. We pray that all who enter this Thy house may do so with an eye single to Thy glory.”
The prayer also thanked the Lord “for this nation of Switzerland, which through centuries of time has been a land of peace while nations about have been nations at war. May it continue to be a land of peace, a land of freedom, a land of opportunity, and an example to other nations of the world.”
Speakers in each session followed the theme of the rededication as well.
President Hinckley told members that the temple is a place of repentance and forgiveness, a place where cleanliness counts, for it is God’s house. “When you hold a temple recommend,” he said, “you are saying: I am clean. I am true. I am faithful. I am trying to live the commandments of the Lord. I am trying to do what’s right.”
He spoke of the temple as a place of salvation and exaltation, with a promise of eternal life to those who walk in righteousness.
“You’re always a better man or woman when you leave than when you came if you come with the right spirit.”
President Monson reminded members that “in the holy temple, it’s the Spirit that counts.” Later, he suggested that everyone note in his or her journal that “you were here in the house of the Lord. Write how you felt here. That is more important than what you heard.”
He urged members who attended the last dedicatory session to “redouble your efforts and become a temple-going people.”
The spirit attending the rededication sessions was also felt during open house activities. In the two days preceding the public open house, which was held October 8–17, Elder M. Russell Ballard conducted a press conference and special tours for government and civic leaders. During these tours, he took the groups into each room of the temple and explained its purpose. “He talked to these people not as officials but as husbands and wives, mothers and fathers,” reported Wolfgang Paul, a member of the temple committee. “You could really see how it impressed people—not only the beauty of the building, but the feeling there. Some left looking thoughtful, some had wet eyes.”
Many of the 33,000 people who toured the temple during the public open house commented on the special peace they felt. An estimated 90 percent were not LDS, and volunteers at the information tent say visitors often spent thirty minutes, an hour, or more asking questions.
One older man felt so good after his visit that he took a copy of the Book of Mormon home with him and stayed up all night reading it. The first thing the next morning, he returned for another tour of the building, stating that he wanted to recapture his feelings of the previous day.
Another woman, a member from the Netherlands who had been less active for twenty years, toured the temple several times and cried through each tour. She said this experience was a turning point in her life, leading her back to the Church.
Hundreds of volunteers from the Bern, Zurich, and Geneva Switzerland stakes helped make these experiences possible as they did everything from parking cars to providing activities for children while their parents viewed displays about the Church. Some took vacation days from work during the open house to fulfill their assignments. Testimonies were strengthened as they shared their time and talents.
Events of the week following the dedication showed that Church members had been listening to the counsel and direction given. Temple president Louis Ringger reported that the day the temple opened for regular sessions was one of the busiest in its 37-year history. Seventy-seven people received the endowment, and there were 841 endowments performed for the dead, as well as many baptisms and sealings. In the first week, more than 5,600 ordinances were performed for the living and dead.