LDS Church News

Apostle fulfills historic assignments in Europe

By Jason Swensen

Church News staff writer

Published: Thursday, April 3 2014 3:05 p.m. MDT

Elder D. Todd Christofferson and Sister Katherine Christofferson stand atop Greece's Mars Hill. While there, the apostle read the account of Paul's teachings at Mars Hill, as recorded in the New Testament's Book of Acts.

IRI

Being a Latter-day Saint in Greece is not easy. Members there endure persecution and discrimination. Some have lost jobs because of their faith. Others have been expelled from school.

Still, the small collection of members that call Greece home have remained faithful. They persevere amid their hardships.

That was the observation of Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostle. The Church leader visited and counseled with members and missionaries in Greece during his recent European travel assignment (March 13-24) that included stops in four nations — England, Belgium, Cyprus and Greece.

Elder Christofferson, who was accompanied by his wife, Sister Katherine Christofferson, fulfilled a number of assignments, including the dedication of a new Young Single Adult building in Manchester, England, and the overseeing of the inauguration of the Church’s new European Union office in Brussels, Belgium.

The Apostle began his travels in northeast England on March 16, where he presided over the Sunderland England Stake Conference.

In the early days of the Church, English converts made their way across the Atlantic to settle with the Saints in Nauvoo or Utah. Today’s members remain in England, building Zion in their own land.

“I was pleased to see so many young families and a vibrant stake in Sunderland,” said Elder Christofferson.

Later that day he dedicated a newly built, five-story Young Single Adult building in the English city of Manchester. The multi-use building, which doubles as an Institute, will be used by young members and their friends to worship, learn and enjoy time together. Several universities operate in Manchester. The Church’s new building is expected to be a gathering place for young men and young women of all backgrounds.

“It is a place of refuge and peace and renewal for students and other young adults from the hectic and sometimes challenging university environment,” he said.

Some 570 people attended the dedication, including more than 200 non-member guests.

Elder Christofferson then traveled to Brussels, Belgium, to initiate and inaugurate the Church’s new European Union Office.

A full-time employee and a missionary couple will staff the EU office. It will be used to monitor what is happening with the EU “and will be our interface with different agencies there for whatever interaction, contribution or other activity we might have.”

Elder Christofferson, along with Europe Area President José A Teixeira, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and Frerich Görtz, the Church’s official representative to the EU, and Francesco Di Lillo, director of the Church’s EU office, also met March 18 with Mrs. Katharina von Schnurbein, an advisor to the EU Commission President for churches, religious associations or communities.

“We want to be abreast of all that’s happening [in the EU] and be able to have input when we feel it’s important to have our voice heard.”

To celebrate the new office, the Church also hosted an inaugural dinner that included a diverse guest list of diplomats, clergy and administrators from various faiths that work closely with the European Union.

Counted among the guests were Mrs. von Schnurbein; Baroness Chris and Baron Frans van Daele, Chief of Staff to the King of Belgium; Father Patrick Daly, General Secretary, Commission of the Episcopates of the European Community; and Mr. Phil Carmel, Director of Interfaith Relations, European Jewish Congress European Office.

In his remarks at the event, Elder Christofferson spoke of the Church’s history, including its periods of persecution and hardship “that give us a particular appreciation for and commitment to faith, family and freedom of religion.”