Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » “Making Available to Faithful Members” (1952)

“Making Available to Faithful Members” (1952)

By: Ardis E. Parshall - June 05, 2012

We’re so used to new temples being announced on a regular basis, and in so many far-away places, that it was a matter of comment when April Conference passed without the announcement of any new temples. But imagine what it might have been like 60 years ago, when temples were scarce, and concentrated in the Mormon Corridor of the western U.S., to open your monthly church magazine in September 1952 and find this letter:


Office of the First Presidency
Salt Lake City 1, Utah

President A. Hamer Reiser and Counselors,
British Mission,
149 Nightingale Lane,
Balham, London, S.W.12, England

Dear Brethren,

For some time past, prayerful consideration has been given by the First Presidency of the Church to the desirability of making available to the faithful members of the Church in the European missions the blessings that are given in the House of the Lord.

In harmony with this consideration, it gives us great joy to announce to you that on April 17th, 1952, in the regular weekly meeting of the First Presidency and council of the Twelve, upon the recommendation of the First Presidency, it was unanimously decided to select a suitable site upon which to erect the first temple to be built in European lands.

In keeping with this action, President David O. McKay, during his recent presidential tour of ten European missions, after consultation with President Stayner Richards, Assistant to the Twelve; President Samuel E. Bringhurst, and counselor Elder Willie Zimmer, of the Swiss-Austrian Mission; President Golden L. Woolf of the French Mission; and Elder David L. McKay, Secretary to the President on his official trip, chose a site at Berne, Switzerland, which seems to offer special advantages for a temple of the Most High.

It is earnestly hoped that the contracts already drawn, and negotiations now under way will be completely and successfully consummated and plans approved by municipal officials, so that erection of this important edifice may proceed without undue delay.

As you make this announcement to the members of the Church in your mission, will you please convey to them our blessings and prayerful wishes that they will so conduct their daily lives that the joy and peace that follow obedience to the Gospel will fill their souls, and that by so doing “their light will shine before men that they may see their good works, and glorify our Father which is in Heaven.”

As ever,

Faithfully yours,

The First Presidency.




  1. It may be difficult for us in 2012 to appreciate what an extraordinary thing that was in 1952–just seven years after the end of the Second World War, the Korean War still a year from its end, the Cold War dividing the world in two more starkly than ever.

    There were no commercial jet aircraft to take people from New York to London in seven hours–about the best you could do was take one of Cunard’s fast liners from New York to Southampton–in five days. Long distance telephone service was lousy, and expensive. Believe it or not, there was no Internet. No satellite TV. No satellites, for that matter, except the moon and all the ancient states of central and eastern Europe.

    There were no stakes of the church in Europe–the first was nearly eight years away in autumn 1952. Temple recommends were still being countersigned by General Authorities. There was no temple “film”–all the temples in use up to that point used live actors (which presented special difficulties in a multi-lingual environment like continental Europe).

    So, the decision to build a temple in Switzerland required the consideration of all of those issues–and the choices made in that process have had a profound effect on the church in the last half century.

    Comment by Mark B. — June 5, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

  2. Thank you for that summary, Mark; it really helps to have the perspective. So much we take for granted.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 5, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

  3. Thanks, Ardis, for sharing the announcement and also to Mark for the context. It certainly shows how much we take what we now have for granted.

    Comment by Alison — June 5, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

  4. I’m really late to this one, but my tummy did a little flip when I saw the address: 149 Nightingale Lane. For years this was a big old Victorian house called “Ravenslea” which served as Mission HQ for the Church, especially prominent during the war years. I remember the old house well as I walked past it twice a week as a pre-schooler en route to visit my aunt. By the late 60’s the house was demolished ( there’s a Millennial Star edition devoted to the history of building, so loved was it) and the Wandsworth Chapel was built, which was where I was baptised as a teenager in 1977, met Alison who served her mission there a few years later, and married there in ’86.

    Completely irrelevant to the subject matter though :-)

    Comment by Anne (UK) — June 24, 2012 @ 10:44 am

  5. There *was* a Millennial Star edition on that, and lots of earlier (especially during the war years) articles that show how beloved that building was. I keep meaning to write something about it — and I will, if you or Alison or someone else doesn’t beat me to it (hint, hint!)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — June 24, 2012 @ 11:04 am

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