President Uchtdorf Rededicates Iconic Temple on “Home Soil”
Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf has participated in many temple dedications and rededications in the years since he was called to be an Apostle.
Each dedication is special—and each provides treasured experiences and lifelong memories.
But the September 4 rededication of the Freiberg Germany Temple is “very touching and personal,” he told the Church News.
President Uchtdorf's connection to the east German mining town of Freiberg extends beyond mere nationality. Both he and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, can trace their ancestry “from this part of the Lord’s vineyard,“ he said.
“And I was baptized not far from the temple site when I was eight years old.”
He also lived in this region until he was 11.
“At that time, who would have ever thought that a temple would be built here?” he wondered out loud. “But it happened because the Lord takes the improbabilities of life and makes the impossible happen.”
Fast-forward several years to when President Uchtdorf was serving in West Germany's air force. This Freiberg/Dresden region that was once a part of East Germany represented a far more unpleasant reality for the young fighter pilot.
“Our assumed targets were in this area of Europe—and I'm sure we were on their target list.”
Now, not too many years later, “we are a united people,” he said. “We are getting closer to each other and we are caring for each other.”
As he gazed upon the now iconic Freiberg Germany Temple, he considered the impact leaders such as President Thomas S. Monson and President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, have had on the development of the Church in Germany and eastern Europe. Their apostolic efforts during troubled times in this nation have blessed countless German lives—including his own.
“The promises that President Monson gave in his blessing [on the nation] in 1975 have come to fruition,” he said. “He came here as a prophet and prophesied of things that no one thought could happen.
“And now we have the temple here.”
As President and Sister Uchtdorf exited the temple following the third and final rededicatory session, scores of members outside began singing “Gott mit euch, bis wir uns wiedersehn” (“God Be with You Till We Meet Again”).
Visibly moved, the Uchtdorfs stopped and joined in singing, and President Uchtdorf raised his hand to his heart.
At his side and also singing was Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Bednar learned the language as a missionary to Germany in the early 1970s and utilized his German skills in his talks at the rededicatory sessions.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf places his hand over his heart while listening to a group outside the Freiberg Germany Temple sing “God Be with You Till We Meet Again” in German. At right is Sister Harriet Uchtdorf. At left is Elder David A. Bednar and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar. Photo by Jason Swensen.