New President Called for Johannesburg South Africa Temple
By Sister Karen Belliston
Robert Eppel has been called to serve as president of the Johannesburg South Africa Temple, beginning November 1, 2013. His wife, Pamela Anne Eppel, will serve as the temple matron. They are replacing Kenneth S. and Muriel Dorothy Armstrong, who have served with great devotion for many years. Elder Armstrong has been the temple president since November 2010 and, before that, was a counselor in the temple presidency since 2007.
Robert Eppel was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, to Harold Eugene and Margaret Hannan Eppel in 1945. He moved with his family to Zimbabwe when he was seven years old. A special memory of his father was that he sang whenever he could. Robert learned from him that singing is a good coping method when life gets hard.
The Eppels were married in Zimbabwe in 1967. Robert qualified as a Chartered Accountant, and in 1972 the couple, along with two young daughters, moved to Port Elizabeth for employment. There they attended the Church of England, but he recalls thinking that “something was missing.” One evening in 1973 he found two young LDS missionaries on his doorstep. He agreed to hear their message. As he learned the gospel, he said, “I found a people who believed and lived the commandments.” After reading and pondering the Book of Mormon, he received a confirmation of its truthfulness and was baptized in 1973. Three months later, after moving back to Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, Pam was baptized as well. They were sealed in the Bern Switzerland Temple in 1974.
In 1981, Robert began working for the Church in Johannesburg as a regional manager. He later became director for temporal affairs, first for the Africa Area, then for the Africa Southeast Area, and finally for the Africa West Area in Accra, Ghana. He and his wife have recently served a mission as area auditors in the Africa Southeast Area Office in Johannesburg. They have both served at the Johannesburg Temple while on their mission.
Robert has served as a branch president, a counselor in bishoprics, and president of the Roodepoort and Soweto Stakes. His wife, Pam, has taught seminary and institute, and served as ward Relief Society president and stake Young Women president. They have five children and twenty-eight grandchildren, four of whom are currently serving LDS missions.