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It was the first time that a German chancellor officially met with a senior leader of the Church.
Elder Uchtdorf was invited to join the meeting by United States Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, a Latter-day Saint, at the Federal Chancellery in Berlin. He regarded the invitation as an honor and joy.
“The chancellor welcomed us warmly and expressed her thoughts about the things that Germany is currently moving with care and very vividly,” said Elder Uchtdorf, who is a native of Germany.
Also discussed was how the Church is helping people in Germany affected by the refugee crisis. Since 2011, the Church has provided assistance to over 2 million refugees. In Germany alone, members of the Church of Jesus Christ have been actively involved in 69 projects since 2015 and have supported the work with almost $3 million (2.5 million euros).
“The exercise of one’s faith is inextricably linked to the fundamental right of all — whether religious or not — to think, express, and act upon, and, of course, in our Christian faith always includes practical help for one’s fellow man in need,” said Elder Uchtdorf.
The Mormon apostle added that Latter-day Saints seek to speak to people of all faiths in good will to strengthen these values. He said that with greater mutual understanding and concerted efforts, the challenges facing the community of people in our time can be solved much better.
Additional topics of conversation included strengthening Germany-U.S. relations and other current world issues.
While in Germany, Elder Uchtdorf also visited the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Oranienburg, where he and Senator Hatch participated in a wreath-laying ceremony honoring Holocaust victims.
The Church has been present in Germany since 1843. There are about 40,000 Latter-day Saints in 159 congregations in the European country. Church membership in Europe is 516,000, and there are more than 16 million members worldwide.
In May, Elder Uchtdorf was a guest of former German President Joachim Gauck. In 2002, Elder Uchtdorf met with then Federal President Johannes Rau at Schloss Bellevue in Berlin.