BYU Jerusalem Center dedicated-LDS Church delays news to keep peace


    The Daily Universe celebrates 50 years

    This story originally appeared in the Daily Universe on June 13, 1989
    By Jessica Mccann

    In an effort to avoid public attention, the May 16 dedication of The Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center was announced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints almost a month after it happened.

    ?The center was dedicated by Elder Howard W. Hunter, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,? said Brent Harker, assistant director of BYU Public Communications.

    Jerry Pond, and LDS Church Public Communications official, said President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church, Elder Boyd K Packer, member of the LDS church?s Quorum of the Twelve, and BYU President Jeffrey R. Holland, were also in attendance at the ceremony.

    ?The Jerusalem Canter was dedicated as purely an educational center. It was dedicated to the Lord and for whatever purposes he has in store. Even if sovereignty changes, which we know it eventually will, there is a special destiny in the preparation of the center,? said Robert C. Taylor, director of the BYU Travel Study, who was also in attendance at the dedication.

    Harker said that the dedication of the Jerusalem center was kept low key because of the opposition of the ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem who have protested the building of the center.

    ?The ultra-Orthodox don?t want us there. They are extremely sensitive to all religious activity. That is why we didn?t want to make a big deal out of the dedication,? said Harker.

    Taylor said the LDS Church?s presence in the Holy Land has much to do with specific commitments the LDS Church has made with local officials. One of these commitments is that ether will be no proselyting or baptisms performed by the LDS Church in Jerusalem.

    ?The Church has bent over backwards to keep their commitments, which is extremely important. We will keep our commitments and abide by the laws of the land,? said Taylor.

    Another reason the dedication was kept low key both in Israel and in the LDS Church community, was because there are thousands of people who would have wanted to attend the dedicatory service.

    However, because of the commitment for the LDS Church to the municipalities in Jerusalem the announcement of the dedication was note possible.

    Taylor said the presence of Latter-day Saints in the Holy Land is appropriate because of their educational intentions. ?This is something which we cannot be criticized for and which is not uncommon,? said Taylor.

    He said Latter-day Saints have a yearning to understand their religious roots, and the LDS Church?s presence in Jerusalem is consistent with that goal. He also said the Jerusalem center is maximizing an opportunity for achieving the contact and understanding of these roots. ?Jerusalem is a focal point in the world, and a place where Latter-day Saints are able to work in a neutral environment, building bridges for understanding and working for peace,? said Taylor.

    He said there are scholars rising out of the Near Eastern Studies Program in Jerusalem who have an understanding of the culture, the language and the people.

    ?In order for the Church to successfully move forward and to be able to play its role in the Second Coming (of Jesus Christ), we have to have these kinds of people.

    ?The Jerusalem Center was built to personify light and truth, similar to the city in the scriptures which is set on a hill which cannot be hid. Its light will shine through,? said Taylor.

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