Paris France will be the location of one of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s newest temples. The news was first broken by the French press in July 2011 while government approvals were still pending. Church President, Thomas S. Monson announced the Church's intention of building a temple on the outskirts of Paris in July 2011 and then confirmed it during the October 2012 semi-annual General Conference worldwide broadcast. Construction is planned for grounds in Le Chesnay, France, located in Paris’ western suburbs.
There are currently about 38,000 members of the Church in more than 100 congregations in France. Missionaries are serving in two missions in the country.
The Paris Temple is the first to be completed in France. In the past the French Saints have attended temples in Frankfurt Germany, The Hague, Netherlands, and Bern, Switzerland.
Mormon missionary work in France began shortly after the Church’s organization. The apostle John Taylor, who later served as the prophet of the Church, began a lengthy European proselyting mission in 1849. France’s first six Latter-day Saints organized the country’s first congregation in April of 1850 in Boulogne-sur-Mer. Just over three years later, there were nine small congregations in France, totaling 337 church members. Many of France’s first members (289 of that 337) were from the Channel Islands.
The growth of the Church continued at a slow pace until World War II ended. The LDS Church’s contributions to European reconstruction after the war sparked interest from outsiders. Missionaries resumed the work in France and the Church’s growth rate increased. In 1955, the renown Mormon Tabernacle Choir stopped to perform at the Parisian Palas de Chaillot during its historic European tour, at which time the country’s membership was roughly 1,500. The first meetinghouse for church members was finished and dedicated in 1962.
Former Church President Gordon B. Hinckley visited France in 1998, prophesying that someday French members would enjoy a temple of their own. During a return visit in 2004, he asked members to exercise patience and faith. Now these members, who come from all walks of life, enjoy the exciting fulfillment of that promise.
In France, Le Parisien reported that the final hurdles were cleared for the construction of the Paris France Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Le Parisien reported on 9 November 2011, "It's now a done deal. The city council has just given its green light by validating the building permit filed by La Foncie des Régions on behalf of the Mormon Church."
In February 2012, Voice of America reported controversy regarding the building of the Paris France Mormon Temple. France is traditionally a Catholic country, but as in many countries in Western Europe, few attend church. As a secularized country, France is wary of any religion, especially a religion as demanding of its followers as Mormonism. The fact that only worthy Mormons can attend the temple also concerns some French people. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints assures the French people that it is not extremist in any way and that the gardens (open to the public) will be a blessing to local residents. There is always an open house staged before a Mormon temple is dedicated to worship, and many LDS temples offer holiday programs for the public.
Dignitaries Attend Reception and Tour Paris France Temple
On Thursday, 6 April 2017, dignitaries attended a reception and toured the newly completed Paris France Temple located just outside of Paris in Le Chesnay, France, which per the Deseret News is "a small city that borders Versailles on a site along Boulevard Saint-Antoine, within walking distance of the beautiful gardens of the Château de Versailles." The words that hold deep spiritual meaning to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Sainteté au Seigneur, La Maison Du Seigneur" — "Holiness to the Lord, The House of the Lord" were visible above the entrance as the guests entered the sacred edifice. Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Bishop Gérald Caussé of the Presiding Bishopric, and former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave remarks in French to the dignitaries attending. Each of their wives was also in attendance. Per the Deseret News, "The Caussés raised their family nearby and were longtime church leaders in France before Bishop Caussé's current assignment, and both Elder Andersen and Mitt Romney served LDS missions to France, with Elder Andersen also serving three years as a mission president in Bordeaux."
Nearly 19 years after President Gordon B. Hinckley had told the faithful Saints in France, "The time has come when you deserve to have a temple among you, and we'll look for a place to build one," Philippe Brillault, Mayor of Le Chesnay, greeted a crowd of 100 government, church and business leaders to welcome Latter-day Saints and their new temple to France. In French, he remarked, "Nous sommes heureux de vous accueillir. Nous vous respecterons à mesure que vous nous respectez, et nous vivrons en harmonie." - "We are happy to welcome you. We will respect you as you respect us, and we will live in harmony."
During his remarks, Elder Neil L. Andersen referenced "The Little Prince," by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and quoted a portion in French:
- "Et maintenant, voici mon secret, un secret très simple: ce n'est qu'avec le cœur qu'on peut voir à juste titre; ce qui est essentiel est invisible pour les yeux."
- "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
He further commented, "The temple is considered the House of God and while physically beautiful, constructed by skilled craftsmen with the finest materials, it is what is invisible — "His Spirit and influence" — that is so beautiful to those who come here."
During his remarks, Mitt Romney stated, "Aujourd'hui, nous vivons dans un monde divisé. Ceux de différentes confessions peuvent se réunir. Il est bon d'avoir un endroit où nous sommes tous des enfants de Dieu." - "Today we live in a divided world. Those of different faiths can come together. It's good to have a place where we are all children of God."
Open House, Cultural Celebration, and Temple Dedication Scheduled
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced the open house, cultural celebration and dedication dates for the Paris France Temple.
The free public open house for the Paris France Temple will begin on Saturday, 22 April 2017 and go through Saturday, 13 May 2017, except for the Sundays of 23 and 30 April and 7 May. A few weeks before the open house, the public can make reservations at templeopenhouse.lds.org.
A cultural celebration will be held Saturday, 20 May 2017. The celebration will feature music and dance performances by local Mormon youth.
The temple will be dedicated on Sunday, 21 May 2017, in three sessions - 9:00 a.m., 12:00 noon and 3:00 p.m. - which will be broadcast to meetinghouses in France and French-speaking units in the Europe area. The three-hour block of meetings will be canceled for that Sunday.