As we begin gearing up for general conference, we will be highlighting past conference talks to help us review, remember, and grow closer to the Spirit so that we can better recognize the Lord's voice and direction this coming October. This talk was given by Bishop Gérald Caussé at the April 2018 general conference.
While preparing for the construction of the magnificent Paris France Temple, I had an experience I will never forget. In 2010, when property for the temple was found, the city mayor asked to meet with us to know more about our Church. This meeting was a critical step in obtaining a building permit. We meticulously prepared a presentation that included several impressive pictures of Latter-day Saint temples. My most fervent hope was that their architectural beauty would persuade the mayor to support our project.
To my surprise, the mayor indicated that rather than reviewing our presentation, he and his team preferred to conduct their own investigation to find out what kind of church we were. The following month, we were invited back to hear a report given by a city councilor who also happened to be a professor of religious history. She said, “Above all else, we wanted to understand who the members of your church are. First, we attended one of your sacrament meetings. We sat at the back of the chapel and carefully observed the people in the congregation and what they were doing. Then we met with your neighbors—those who live around your stake center—and we asked them what kind of people you Mormons are.”
“So what are your conclusions?” I asked, feeling a little bit of anxiety. She replied, “We discovered that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the closest to Jesus Christ’s original Church than any other church we know of.” I almost objected by saying, “That’s not completely accurate! It’s not the church that is closest; it is the Church of Jesus Christ—the same Church, the true Church!” But I restrained myself and instead offered a silent prayer of gratitude. The mayor then advised us that, based on their findings, he and his team had no objections to the construction of a temple in their community.
Today, when I think about that miraculous experience, I feel grateful for the mayor’s wisdom and spirit of discernment. He knew that the key to understanding the Church is not to see it through the outward appearance of its buildings or even as a well-organized institution but through its millions of faithful members, who strive each day to follow the example of Jesus Christ.