The German Democratic Republic (DDR) has agreed to let The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints send in missionaries from other countries and assign church members from the DDR as missionaries at home and abroad.
The agreement was approved last week when President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, met in Berlin with Erich Honecker, chairman of the State Council, Kurt Loeffler, state secretary for religious affairs, and other top officials of the German Democratic Republic."Both Chairman Honecker and Mr. Loeffler agreed that allowing missionaries from other countries to serve in the DDR and permitting Latter-day Saints from the DDR to serve as missionaries in other countries will strengthen friendships among nations," President Monson said.
"Mr. Loeffler expressed his belief that LDS missionaries traditionally become goodwill ambassadors, not only for their native countries, but also for the countries in which they serve their missions. The experience of thousands of missionaries who have served throughout the world convinces us he is correct in his assessment," President Monson continued.
Details of the arrangement will be worked out in meetings beginning next month between Europe Area leaders of the church and the DDR state secretary for religious affairs.
President Monson said the government also has authorized the LDS Church to use various facilities for youth conferences and other church meetings. And the Lamanite Generation performing group from Brigham Young University has been invited to perform next year in the German Democratic Republic.
President Monson said the state secretary for religious affairs commented in an interview Friday that his government respects the Latter-day Saints because they are law-abiding, loyal citizens who believe in strong families, have a strong work ethic and desire world peace.
"Obviously, there are differences of belief that separate us, but there are many more things that unite us, including those items Mr. Loeffler mentioned," President Monson said.
While in the German Democratic Republic last week, President Monson dedicated a new stake center in Dresden and a recently completed meetinghouse in Zwickau. He was joined in the meetings with government officials by Elder Russell M. Nelson, of the Council of the Twelve Apostles; Elder Hans B. Ringger, of the First Quorum of the Seventy and a counselor in the church's Europe Area presidency; and local church officials.