Under the direction of two future LDS Church presidents, the Freiberg temple was dedicated in late June 1985 by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency, and joined by then-Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Quorum of the Twelve.
The smallish temple was renovated and enlarged in 2001-02 — when it also received its own Angel Moroni statue and was rededicated by President Hinckley in September 2002.
With its Mormon roots dating back to 1896, Freiberg would seem to be a sleepy little town of 40,000 about a 40-minute train ride east of the larger, more renowned city of Dresden.
In fact, the location of a newly announced temple in the former German Democratic Republic was a surprise to Frank Apel nearly 30 years ago, when he was serving as executive secretary to Dresden Mission President Henry Burkhardt.
"As I heard a temple was going to be built, I was really happy, and I asked, 'Where? Leipzig? Dresden? In Freiberg! Oh, my goodness,' " said Apel, the Freiberg native punctuating his recollections by repeating a jump for joy, with arms stretched to the heavens.
The former auto dealer even moved his family from a central-city location to a home on Freiberg's northwestern edge. Not only was the family eventually sealed in the Freiberg temple, but all four of the Apel children have been married there, too.
But the Freiberg temple is blessing more than just the Latter-day Saints near and far. President Apel says the community is better because of its presence and influence.
"After the Berlin Wall fell (in 1989), many businesses in the country went down," he said. "But it is amazing how much industry has developed here — solar power, computer chips, education.
"Freiberg has one of the lowest unemployment averages in Germany," he continued. "We see that — the connection of the temple to that. The people in the area don't see it that way — they see it as their own strength."
But they still come to walk the grounds, pause on the benches, take wedding photographs.
And call the Freiberg Temple their own.
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