Elder David A. Bednar, an Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is ministering to Latter-day Saints in five countries in Central Europe in October.
Elder Bednar, a member of the faith’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, began his nine-day ministry in Geneva, Switzerland—known as the capital of peace—on Saturday, October 8, 2022, where he met with high-level UN diplomats and representatives of global organizations that collaborate with the Church on humanitarian projects.
“We wanted to make sure that we could come and greet you and tell you how much we appreciate the partnerships that we have with you and all things we’re able to do together. You honor us by coming here tonight,” said Elder Bednar, whose arrival in Europe was delayed due to a couple of canceled flights.
Elder Bednar is traveling with his wife, Susan, and Elder Carl B. Cook of the Presidency of the Seventy and his wife, Lynette, as well as members of the Europe Central Area Presidency.
“We’re trying to help bless people and members of our Church are trying to bless others and we’re grateful for relationships with you and grateful for your programs,” added Elder Cook.
“This table and the people around it represent the partnerships between faith communities and governments and there’s an interesting dynamic,” Elder Bednar explained. “Our purpose is to help people change, with God’s help, from the inside out. The world oftentimes focuses on changing from the outside in, and you need both.”
“I think the elder said that in a beautiful way when he said that the whole intergovernmental work in different areas is outside in while the Church is inside out,” said Ibrahim Salama, chief of the Human Rights Treaties Branch of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Salama said the OHCHR is spearheading an initiative to articulate the role faith provides in defending human rights.
“UNICEF works on behalf of vulnerable communities serving children in need…and partnerships with faith organizations [are] critical to our ability to serve,” said Leslie Goldman, vice president of program and community management at UNICEF, who attended the dinner Saturday night in Geneva.
“The Church has been truly wonderful in understanding the deep humanitarian needs and the complex work that goes into making change,” Goldman added.
Central Europe Ministry
Sunday morning, Elder Bednar spoke at a worship service in Geneva attended by all three of the area’s wards or congregations. In the afternoon, he focused on the young adults in all five Swiss stakes (like a diocese), including Bern, Zurich, St. Gallen, Lausanne, and Geneva.
During the ministry, the senior leaders are also planning to meet with missionaries and the media.
Switzerland is home to more than 9,000 members in 35 congregations. The first temple to be built in Europe was the Bern Switzerland Temple. It was dedicated in 1955. Some of the pioneers also emigrated to Utah to help build up Zion in the United States.
During his ministry of Central Europe, Elder Bednar is also planning to visit Austria, Albania, Hungary and Romania where many of the members are still considered pioneers in their countries.