News Release

Elder Uchtdorf encourages believers in Europe and calls for unity

Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints travels to Germany, Poland, and Switzerland

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – following the New Testament model – twelve apostles bear witness of Jesus Christ, travel to different countries, and build up congregations. A native of Germany, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In April, he traveled throughout Europe with his wife, Harriet, to encourage believers and comfort refugees from Ukraine in troubled times.

Elder Uchtdorf: Unity in Jesus Christ

The trip concluded with a devotional in the Friedrichsdorf meetinghouse on Friday, April 22, 2022. Thousands of Latter-day Saints in German-speaking Europe watched the event from home via live stream. More than 53,000 Christians in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland call The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints their religious home.

“We live in times of uncertainty, danger, and hardship,” Elder Uchtdorf began. “I am deeply impressed how you compassionately embrace refugee families seeking safety and sanctuary. What I hear about your sacrifice, generosity, and kindness fills my heart with joy.”

The apostle called for unity. “Jesus Christ is the great unifier. During his earthly life, he often transcended the boundaries of the conventional to include those who were otherwise excluded: He commended the faith of a Gentile woman and a Roman soldier; he touched lepers; he ate with sinners and tax collectors,” Elder Uchtdorf explained.

“The unity we seek is not that everyone stands in the same place but that everyone looks in the same direction—toward Jesus Christ and His glory,” he continued. “Unity does not mean that everyone has to be exactly the same. We need the unique perspectives that every person can bring to the work.”

“For us to become of one heart, having our ‘hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another,’ we need a mighty change of heart,” Elder Uchtdorf said quoting from the Book of Mormon. “But that does not mean I change my heart to match yours. It also does not mean that you change your heart to match mine. Rather, it means that we change our hearts, so that they match the Savior’s. The closer we get to him, the closer we get to each other.”

Earlier, Elder Michael Cziesla, an Area Seventy of the Church, reported on the Church’s humanitarian aid and the support many members provide for people who have fled Ukraine. Elder Erich W. Kopischke of the Europe Central Area Presidency encouraged believers to continue to assist those in need. “Show your compassion toward the people from Ukraine and follow up with action,” Elder Kopischke said.

Devotionals for Refugees and Youth in Poland

At the end of a meeting in the Warsaw meetinghouse on Palm Sunday, refugees from Ukraine sang the hymn “Master, the Tempest Is Raging.” In Ukrainian, the chorus ends with the words “Мир настає.” Translated into English, it means “Peace is coming.”

Elder Uchtdorf gave encouragement to those gathered, “Jesus Christ will calm your storm.” The pews were filled with many women, youth, and children. Some smiled hopefully, others had tears in their eyes as the apostle recalled the New Testament story where Jesus came to the aid of his disciples by commanding the wind and waves to be still.

Elder Uchtdorf himself was a refugee at a young age twice: the first time as a four-year-old as a result of the Second World War, and later at the age of eleven at the beginning of the Cold War. Still, every situation is different and each person experiences their circumstances in his or her own way, Elder Uchtdorf explained. Jesus Christ nevertheless knows our concerns perfectly. Nothing can separate those who put their trust in him, “[not] powers, nor things present, nor things to come.”

In a devotional for the youth held earlier, Elder Uchtdorf began by asking who in attendance came from Ukraine. Many hands went up. He advised all young people to be there for each other and always remember that they are children of God.

That morning, Elder Uchtdorf and his wife, Harriet, took part in the sacrament meeting of the Warsaw ward. All the pews were filled as he encouraged believers to be one with each other and stand by those seeking refuge. “Come together, pray for one another, help one another,” the apostle urged those present.

Meetings with missionaries

Elder Uchtdorf also met with missionaries in Berlin, Zurich, and Frankfurt. Young men and women, as well as retired couples, serve temporary missions on a volunteer basis. Often, a mission assignment takes those willing to serve to another country.

In the light-filled room in the meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the middle of Berlin’s embassy district, the apostle had some practical advice for the missionaries. “Don’t just deliver a message, take an interest in the people,” Elder Uchtdorf said. “Speak their language, listen carefully, and never look down on anyone who believes something different than you.”

“When you meet someone, remember that a child of God is standing before you,” the apostle added. “Express your appreciation. Actions often have more weight than words.” First, missionaries should turn their own hearts to God. “Learn to love God. Trust in the Lord. He loves you.”

The Church should grow—not only in numbers but in love, strength, and spirituality, Elder Uchtdorf emphasized. His wife, Harriet, had previously urged missionaries to smile and be kind to others. “You have the power to radiate God’s love,” she assured the attendees.

On Good Friday, not only the more than 150 missionaries of the Alpine Mission working in Austria, Southern Germany, and Switzerland gathered in Zurich. The two children and several grandchildren of Dieter and Harriet Uchtdorf were also present. “It feels like a family reunion,” noted Harriet Uchtdorf.

Their daughter, Antje Evans, like her parents, had had a long journey. Their son Guido Uchtdorf is married to a Swiss and lives near Zurich. He himself also spoke with the missionaries during the meeting. “We proclaim glad tidings,” the counselor in the St. Gallen Stake Presidency reminded the audience as Easter Sunday was approaching.

His daughter Jasmin Uchtdorf had returned from her mission in Paris only a few weeks ago. “God answers prayers,” she emphasized in a brief comment. Her younger brother Elder Robin Bond is currently serving in the Berlin Mission.

“Do your work with joy and confidence. Relax and do not be afraid to make mistakes,” Elder Uchtdorf told the missionaries. Many people let social or political differences divide them. The Gospel directs our focus to what is essential and brings people together, the apostle explained.

The meeting with the missionaries of the Frankfurt Mission brought Elder Uchtdorf and his wife back to the German state of Hesse, where they had long had their home. “I was baptized here in Frankfurt. This is where my husband and I met,” said an emotional Harriet Uchtdorf at the pulpit.

The friendliness and unity of the believers in Frankfurt made it easy for her, her mother, and her sister to settle into the local congregation. “Reach out to others and invite them in,” she encouraged everyone.

Elder Uchtdorf invited the missionaries to go through the world with grateful hearts. “Do not wait for big miracles. Look around and gratefully accept the small wonders around you. Gratitude is an effective medicine against sadness and anxiety,” the apostle said.

“Do not let your past weigh you down. Accept Jesus Christ and make yourself free,” Elder Uchtdorf spoke. “Develop a zest for life—that’s how you build bridges to people’s hearts. You do not convert others. Convert yourselves and turn to the Lord.”

Also present in Frankfurt were the two children of Dieter and Harriet Uchtdorf as well as some grandchildren. Daughter Antje Evans addressed the missionaries and encouraged them. “Do not underestimate the influence you have on others. Your heart beats for the country and the people here, and it shows and does not go unnoticed.”

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