Church News - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Members in Europe East Area view Nauvoo temple dedication

Published: Saturday, July 13, 2002

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At the last moment, when it appeared that specialized electronic equipment would not be allowed into Russia to receive the satellite transmission of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple dedication June 27-30, the Lord opened the way, said Elder Douglas L. Callister of the Seventy.

Courtesy Europe East Area public affairs
Satellite dish is installed on Rostov meetinghouse in Russia in preparation for broadcast.

"Only the hand of the Lord — intervening in the last crucial moment — could have made the transmission possible to nearly 6,000 members who had gathered in meetinghouses across Eastern Europe," said Elder Callister, who serves as area president.

"This dedication was very important to members in Eastern Europe," he continued. "They learned that the Church is here to stay, which is important to people who have had a basketful of broken promises. In a situation where members could have been disappointed, the Lord provided a spiritual experience and helped them feel a part of the Church."

Efforts to broadcast the temple dedication began in early spring. Satellite dishes were installed in Armenia and Bulgaria without incident.

But government demands in Russia delayed approval of the electronic equipment to the point that even the evening before the broadcast prospects of viewing the dedication were uncertain.

The electronic equipment, or receivers, were needed to decode the transmission. They had been detained for months in various government agencies as each studied the application. Laboratory tests were also required to verify that the receivers could not be used as transmitters. Tests were lengthy and time consuming. At one point, technicians required a 350-page book detailing the receivers.

On June 24th, three days prior to the dedication, licenses were granted allowing the receivers to enter the country. New application forms were then neatly prepared and presented to customs officials. Church leaders were told a minimum of five to 10 working days would be required.

But after prayers by members, customs officials, who were concerned that the cost of the receivers exceeded the amount of most religious gifts, granted approval the next day. It appeared that the equipment would be on the airplanes in time for distribution around the country when Church leaders were surprised to learn that approval was now needed from yet another department.

Early Wednesday morning, on June 26, three members of the Church and a representative of the installation contractor met with the department. Various hurdles were overcome during the day and again all appeared ready for signing until one official at 4:30 p.m., said there wasn't sufficient time to complete the process that day.

Courtesy Europe East Area public affairs
Members and missionaries in Moscow linger after viewing dedication of Nauvoo Illinois Temple from satellite broadcast.

Shortly after, a senior department official asked Sister Elena Nechiporova why the Church's requests that day had been made with such "pleading tones." As director of Church Public Affairs in Russia, Sister Nechiporova felt to explain the history of Nauvoo and the significance of temples and how thousands of Russians were traveling great distances to view the dedication.

At 5:45 p.m., 15 minutes before the department closed, the senior official granted permission. The six receivers were whisked away by four senior missionary couples to waiting planes. The receiver boxes were flown to various destinations where workers installed them overnight.

"Another 15 minutes and the government office would have closed, and we would have missed the broadcast," Elder Callister said. "We always felt in our hearts that we would receive permission. There was overwhelming peace.

"I wonder, as a presidency, if we have adequately thanked the Lord," said Elder Callister. "After all we could do, He made the difference."

Approximately 5,800 of the nearly 28,000 members in Eastern Europe participated in the satellite transmission, including members in Yekaterinburg, Russia, who rented buses and drove 26 hours each direction to view proceedings in Saratov, Russia.

Despite hailstorm damage to the satellite dish in Sofia, Bulgaria, two days prior to the broadcast, workers were able to restore reception in time for the transmission. Perhaps the most challenging area was Rostov, Russia, where the satellite angle was set near parallel to the earth's horizon and required an unobstructed path. Installation was completed during the first two days of the dedication.

"When the history of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple dedication is written, I hope a chapter explains how the Lord worked a miracle to include members in Eastern Europe," said Elder Callister.

E-mail: shaun@desnews.com