East German leader Erich Honecker on Friday held talks in East Berlin with heads of the LDS Church, the official ADN news agency said Friday.
Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints visited East Germany this week to dedicate a new chapel in Dresden and to discuss permitting young East German church members to serve missions. "The meeting in Honecker's office took place in a trusting, warm and constructive atmosphere," ADN said.President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, presented Honecker with a sculpture representing the church's value of the family unit, ADN said.
"We know what meaning the unit and the welfare of the family hold for you," President Monson said to Honecker, according to ADN. (President Monson's statements were published in German by ADN and translated into English by AP.)
President Monson praised the East German government for its cooperation with those adhering to the Mormon faith, ADN said.
"The good, trusting cooperation between church and state as practiced in East Germany cannot be taken for granted. It is the achievement of a balanced government policy toward the church," ADN quoted President Monson as saying. He also thanked Honecker for his "untiring engagement for international understanding and cooperation."
Church leaders meeting with Honecker and other officials included Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Council of the Twelve and Elder Hans B. Ringger, of the First Quorum of the Seventy, ADN said.
The ADN reports on Friday did not mention any new formal agreements between the church and the East German government. However, an LDS Church representative in Frankfurt said church leaders were seeking an agreement to allow East German members to serve missions.
"One purpose of the visit was to seek an agreement allowing church members to serve two-year missions in East Germany and perhaps other countries," Peter Berkhan, the church's director of temporal affairs in West Germany, told the AP.
Another agreement sought would permit the church to use public parks and recreation areas for various programs, Berkhan said.
The LDS leaders this week dedicated a new stake center in Dresden and a meetinghouse in Zwickau. The church has 3,700 members in East Germany. It dedicated a temple in Freiberg in 1985.