News Release

Elder Ronald A. Rasband Welcomes French Mayor to Paris France Temple, Part of April Ministry Trip

Elder Rasband’s ministry will also take him to Germany, Armenia and South Africa

“We feel like we’re coming home,” said Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Elder Rasband and his wife, Melanie, were taking advantage of a break in the rainy skies to walk the grounds of the Paris France Temple on Friday, April 14, in Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt, France.

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Located less than two miles from the famed Palace of Versailles, the temple is the Church’s House of the Lord in France, where the faith’s highest sacraments uniting families are performed.

“Look at those colors,” Elder Rasband’s wife, Melanie, exclaimed as she pointed to a tapestry of tulips and spring flower beds welcoming visitors. Toward the center of the gardens, the Apostle and his wife stopped to ponder the purpose of their visit in front of the marble arms of a replica Christus statue.

Elder Rasband embarked on a ministry to France, Germany, Armenia and South Africa this month.

First on his schedule was a sit-down interview with a French journalist in which Elder Rasband explained his responsibilities as a special witness of Jesus Christ and shared a copy of what he described to be one of his most cherished possessions.

The Apostle was carrying with him a copy of The Book of Mormon, a key book of scripture embraced by the Church as a witness of Jesus Christ and a companion to the Bible. Its worn pages bore the signs of years of study, which Elder Rasband said to the journalist made it of invaluable worth.

“We believe the Bible and the Book of Mormon to be the word of God,” he explained. “I brought for this interview my missionary Book of Mormon that I used over 50 years ago [1970–1972] when I was a young missionary in New York City. I read this book many times; on my mission is where I gained my own belief of the Book of Mormon.”

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Elder Rasband expressed similar sentiments during a meeting the following day with the mayor of Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt, who first toured the temple during its 2017 open house, before he was mayor.

He welcomed Mayor Richard Delepierre to the visitors’ center, where they discussed the temple’s impact on the region and future opportunities for collaboration with local and religious communities.

Mayor Delepierre expressed his admiration for its architectural workmanship and grounds. He said that the sacred building has become a part of the greater community.

“The architectural quality of the [temple] has some of the finest of French workmanship, which aided in architectural integration,” Mayor Delepierre said after his meeting with Elder Rasband. “After [its opening], we quickly saw that everything that once concerned residents [was resolved], there were no complaints, traffic issues or other matters. You are, without a doubt, among the calmest neighbors in the area.”

Local church leaders also participated in the meeting, including Elder Rubén V. Alliaud, who currently serves in the Europe Central Area Presidency, and Area Seventy Elder Franck A. Poznanski.

To them, the mayor expressed his desire to preserve religious liberties in the public sphere as part of his mayoral responsibilities.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shares a copy of the Book of Mormon with Richard Delepierre, mayor of Le Chesnay-Rocquencourt, on Saturday, April 15, 2023. Their meeting was held at the visitors’ center of the Paris France Temple.2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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“I think now is also the time to symbolically reopen the [temple’s] doors to explain the Church’s teachings, which helps avoid misunderstandings that are unfortunately common in today’s world,” Delepierre said.

In response, Elder Rasband said he was grateful for the mayor’s support of all faiths, including the Church of Jesus Christ.

“He is a great friend of the Church,” Elder Rasband said. “In fact, at one point of our interview, I said, ‘you ought to be a spokesman for our Church.’ He was so kind and so generous in his comments with the Church’s participation in his city.”

Elder Rasband and the mayor, under the mayor’s suggestion, also talked about exploring opportunities for further use of the temple’s grounds, which are open to the public. Delepierre shared that while the municipality is surrounded by wooded areas, public parks are missing from the densely populated city center.

“The members of the community were able to come in during the open house. They saw what is done here in the temple. They love our gardens, and they want to use them more,” Elder Rasband said. “I think it’s all been positive, and that’s why he is such a positive spokesman for not only our Church but all churches.”

Elder and Sister Rasband’s Special Connection to France

In addition to meeting with civic leaders, Elder Rasband ministered to thousands of Church members and missionaries over the course of the weekend in several meetings.

With them he shared his family’s special connection to the French people.

“We almost view France as sacred for our family,” Elder Rasband said as he explained that his appreciation for the country goes back several decades to his father-in-law’s military service.

Melanie Rasband’s late father, Blaine E. Twitchell, was part of the Allied offensive in Normandy during World War II. He is pictured on the far left, circa 1944.© 2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Sister Rasband shared that her late father, Blaine E. Twitchell, was part of the Allied offensive in Normandy during World War II. According to Sister Rasband, Twitchell landed on Omaha Beach a couple of months after D-Day in 1944.

“He was grateful that he was blessed to be able to survive that day and then further into the war,” Sister Rasband explained. “[My father] was impressed with the French people and their greeting, love and kindness towards these Americans who came to liberate their country. He instilled in our family a love for the French and their goodness.”

In his journal, Twitchell recorded several experiences that changed the course of his life and strengthened his children’s faith for years to come.

On one occasion, Elder Rasband shared that a bomb landed in the mud next to Twitchell but failed to explode.

“He recounted that as a miracle that happened to him here on French soil, and I’m grateful for that miracle because it means I have my sweetheart and five children and 29 grandchildren,” Elder Rasband added.

“We have a great love for France for many reasons.”

Elder Rasband’s connection to France extended into his professional career and then Church leadership assignments. For several years, he managed a business venture located in Ribecourt, north of Paris. As a General Authority, he served in the Europe Central Area Presidency, which oversees Church operations in France.

Elder and Sister Rasband will travel to Munich, Germany, next. The apostle shared that the focus of his ministry is bringing a three-fold message to Church members.

“I’m going to tell them three things in every meeting that I bring from President Russell M. Nelson. One: We love them so very much. Two: We thank them for all that they’re doing to build up the Lord’s Church and His Kingdom. And third: We need them.”

More than 2,000 people gathered at Pyramides Congrès Center on April 16, 2023, in Le Port-Marly, France, to hear from Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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About the Church of Jesus Christ in France

France is home to more than 38,000 Latter-day Saints across 108 congregations. To learn more about the Church’s history in the country, visit this site.

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.