Why Elder Bednar told Saints in Switzerland the gospel ‘is for you’

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BERN, Switzerland — A ministry visit to Switzerland allowed Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, the opportunity to connect with their ancestors who lived here, not far from the Bern Switzerland Temple. 

But the trip also allowed Elder Bednar to teach something specific to the diverse group of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who live here: “Each of you individually one by one has access to the blessings of the gospel. Individually and personally, it’s for you.”

Switzerland is the first stop on a five-country ministry tour for Elder Bednar. The journey to get to Europe came with flight cancellations, delays and other complications. When Elder Bednar stood in front of the Swiss Saints in three different meetings in two cities on Sunday, Oct. 9, he wanted to make sure they knew how happy he was to see them, and that he wished he could tell each one of them how much God loves them.

“In a world that is growing more crazy and perplexed, we are not alone,” he said.

For Woochul Song, 29, who moved to Geneva from Canada about four weeks ago to get a master’s degree, Elder Bednar’s visit was “the right timing.” He said he received promptings and spiritual thoughts that he needed the most. 

“I was grateful that he conveyed that message to all of us,” he said.

Church members gather at the Geneva Switzerland Stake Center to hear from Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in Geneva, Switzerland, on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022.

Church members gather at the Geneva Switzerland Stake Center to hear from Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in Geneva, Switzerland, on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022.

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The makeup of Switzerland and the Church

This country in the middle of Europe has close to nine million people and four official languages. The Swiss system is built to include all regions, languages and cultures. Like the Church, Switzerland is also organized and governed by a council. Seven federal councilors form the Swiss Federal Council, and every year one of the seven takes turns presiding. 

About 10,000 members of the Church live in Switzerland in five stakes, with many fourth and fifth generation members raising their children and youth in the gospel. Church members are active in their communities, serving as teachers, police officers, scientists, politicians, in the military, health care and business. 

Missionary companions Elder Santiago Velasquez Talbott and Elder Jesus Ogose have been serving in the Geneva stake for a few months. Both elders are from Montreal, Canada. Elder Talbott speaks three languages; Elder Osage, four. 

“Geneva is a really international city,” Elder Talbott said. “You see people coming from everywhere. Everyone speaks a lot of languages here and you hear everything on the tram or walking; everyone speaks something different.”

Full-time missionaries Elder Santiago Velasquez Talbott and Elder Jesus Osoge stop after sacrament meeting in the Geneva Switzerland Stake Center on Oct. 9, 2022.

Full-time missionaries Elder Santiago Velasquez Talbott and Elder Jesus Osoge stop after sacrament meeting in the Geneva Switzerland Stake Center on Oct. 9, 2022. The missionaries from the France Lyon Mission serve in Geneva and speak several languages each.

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The diversity of languages, cultures and nationalities among the members of the stake mirrors the makeup of Switzerland — and the makeup of the international Church.

But when Elder Osage looks at people, he knows they have a broader identity and purpose. “We see everyone as a son or daughter of God, who has the opportunity to know about the gospel and have that joy in their lives,” he said.

Sacrament meeting

Sunday morning, Elder Bednar addressed three wards in a combined sacrament meeting in the Geneva Switzerland Stake center. The hymns there were sung in three languages — French, English and Spanish — and the remarks were translated into French. 

Oscar Mundene, age 23, underlined in his scriptures a passage which Elder Bednar shared — 1 Nephi 14:12-14, which speaks of “the church of the lamb of God” in the last days. Its numbers were few, but “the covenant people of the Lord … were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.”

Mundene had been asking himself what it meant. And then Elder Bednar asked the congregation if they saw themselves in that verse.

“Like, do I think of myself as someone who has the power of God? And that just made me feel like, yes, I’m trying to do my best to just come closer to Christ through my callings at Church, but also on a daily basis,” he said. “Yes, I can see myself in that verse.”

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Susan Bednar on the grounds of the Bern Switzerland Temple on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Sister Susan Bednar on the grounds of the Bern Switzerland Temple on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Bern Switzerland Temple

Sunday afternoon, Elder Bednar spoke to Swiss temple workers in the Zollikofen Ward building next to the temple grounds. The hymns in that meeting were sung in English, German and French. 

The Bern Switzerland Temple was the first to be built in Europe, and the first to be built outside of the United States. Built in 1955, it was one of the most impressive peace projects for Europe after World War II. Members from countries who had fought just a few years earlier came together inside the temple to make eternal covenants.

Young adults walk on the grounds of the Bern Switzerland Temple before a devotional with members from five Swiss stakes in Zollikofen, Switzerland, on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022.

Young adults walk on the grounds of the Bern Switzerland Temple before a devotional with members from five Swiss stakes on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022.

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In a devotional in a chapel in Zollikofen, next to the temple grounds, Elder Bednar expounded on the patterns seen in temple-building over the years and how now, temples are being built closer to people all over the world. 

But the temple as a place is secondary, explained Elder Bednar. “We talk too much of the temple, and we talk too little of the house of the Lord. … It’s not about the temple, it’s about Him.”

He asked the temple workers to lift their vision, and teach their families about how covenants and ordinances in the temple connect individuals to the living Christ. 

Swiss temple workers listen to a devotional with Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the chapel in Zollikofen, Switzerland, next to the Bern Switzerland Temple grounds on Sunday. Oct. 9, 2022.

Swiss temple workers listen to a devotional with Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the chapel in Zollikofen, Switzerland, next to the Bern Switzerland Temple grounds on Sunday. Oct. 9, 2022.

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Young adult devotional

Later Sunday afternoon, Elder Bednar held a question and answer session with young adults from five Swiss stakes. They asked him questions about their identities, their futures, their families and more. As he spoke with them, Elder Bednar pointed out patterns in revelation, learning, families and eternity. 

At times Elder Bednar called upon Sister Bednar to answer different questions. And he invited Elder Carl B. Cook of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Sister Lynette Cook, who are traveling with him, to address them as well.

Then, he asked the young adults what they in turn heard from the answers — telling them to listen in their minds and hearts to what was not said. He invited them to act on the promptings they received — both on things to improve, and things they are doing well.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks to young adults from five Swiss stakes in a devotional in Zollikofen, Switzerland, next to the Bern Switzerland Temple grounds on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks to young adults from five Swiss stakes in a devotional in Zollikofen, Switzerland, next to the Bern Switzerland Temple grounds on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022.

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“The times in which we live are perplexing, and they are going to be more perplexing. And you shouldn’t be troubled by that,” Elder Bednar said, urging them to get into the Book of Mormon consistently and feast upon the words of Christ. “As you do that, you will have the help and strength you need.”

Shana Moulin translated Sister Bednar’s remarks into French, and admitted she was nervous at first about the role. “During the sacrament, I was praying a lot for the gift of tongues,” she said. “But then, the words just came out.”

She said she could feel the spirit touching her heart from Elder Bednar’s words. “I’m really going to change my study of the Book of Mormon. Because he said the Book of Mormon is speaking about us nowadays.” 

A member of the audience asks a question during a question and answer session with Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and young adults in five Swiss stakes in Zollikofen, Switzerland, on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022.

A member of the audience asks a question during a question and answer session with Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and young adults in five Swiss stakes in Zollikofen, Switzerland, on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022.

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U.N. dinner

Soon after arriving in the country on the evening of Saturday, Oct. 8, Elder Bednar addressed a group of about 20 government officials, ambassadors, and representatives from non-profit organizations gathered for dinner at the Church’s offices in Geneva. 

“This table and the people around represent the partnerships between faith communities and governments,” Elder Bednar said. “You honor us by coming here tonight, and we thank you for that.”

The Church has long-established relationships and connections with many organizations around the world that work to remove hunger, improve poverty, build resilience and strengthen families and communities. Elder Bednar remarked on what the gospel teaches.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks to a gathering of government officials, ambassadors, and representatives from non-profit organizations at a dinner in Geneva, Switzerland, on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks to a gathering of government officials, ambassadors, and representatives from non-profit organizations at a dinner in Geneva, Switzerland, on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“This table and the people around it represent the partnerships between faith communities and governments and there’s an interesting dynamic,” Elder Bednar explained. “Our purpose is to help people change, with God’s help, from the inside out. The world oftentimes focuses on changing from the outside in, and you need both.”

Elder Cook noted the many relationships and connections made in several countries between the Church and other organizations. He spoke of being in Kazakhstan in September with Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and making connections with leaders there as well.

“We are grateful for you and what we’re doing,” Elder Cook said. “We’re trying to help bless people and members of our Church are trying to bless others. And we’re grateful for relationships with you and grateful to be here.”

The message resonated with Ibrahim Salama, the director of the Human Rights Treaties Division in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. He has been spearheading an initiative called faith rights, to articulate the role and responsibilities of faith-based organizations in the area of human rights, and appreciated the conversations with Church leaders.

Leslie Goldman, the vice president of Program and Community Management at UNICEF, remarked on the work her organization has done with the Church over the years. 

“UNICEF looks for long term solutions. Long term solutions are complex and take a complex approach. But the Church has been truly a wonderful partner in understanding the deep humanitarian needs and the complex work that goes into making change,” she said.

Leslie Goldman, vice president of Program and Community Management at UNICEF, visits during a dinner hosted at the Church offices in Geneva, Switzerland, on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022.

Leslie Goldman, vice president of Program and Community Management at UNICEF, visits during a dinner hosted at the Church offices in Geneva, Switzerland, on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022.

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A Swiss heritage

Speaking on the temple grounds, Sister Bednar reflected on her ancestors who left Switzerland — originally living not far from where the temple was built.

“I think they are looking down from up above and thinking, wow, look what has happened, there is a temple here,” she said. They immigrated to Star Valley, Wyoming, which also now has a temple. “To me, that’s amazing.” 

Elder Bednar said his ancestors left Switzerland to move to Utah in the midst of persecution for their religious beliefs, which strengthened their testimonies and made them stronger. 

Now he sees strength in Switzerland because of the many generations of Church members who live and worship with faith.

“There’s been that pattern, there’s been that blessing over a long period of time,” he said. “I think there is strength in Switzerland because the Church has long been established here.” 

Bern, Switzerland, pictured on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022.

Bern, Switzerland, pictured on Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


This page was created programmatically, to read the article in its original location you can go to the link bellow:
https://www.thechurchnews.com/leaders/2022/10/10/23395557/elder-david-a-bednar-switzerland-geneva-bern-temple-un-devotionals-young-adults
and if you want to remove this article from our site please contact us

Mary Richards

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