Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
Elder Wolfgang H. Paul Wolfgang H. Paul


1940 - living

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  • Born 1940 Muenster, Germany
  • Baptized as a child; Aaronic Priesthood as a youth; Melchizedek Priesthood as a young man
  • Married Helga Klappert 1964, Bern Switzerland Temple;three children
  • Elders Quorum President; Branch President; High Priest Group Leader; Bishop; Stake Young Men's President; Counselor to Stake President; Regional Representative;Counselor to Europe East Area President
  • Mission President, Germany Hamburg Mission and thence to Germany Dresden Mission
  • Second Quorum of the Seventy 2005-2010

   Growing up in Germany as part of the only member family in his town, Elder Wolfgang Heinz Jürgen Paul of the Second Quorum of the Seventy developed an ability to hold strong to a position and stand for it. That ability would prove crucial later in life.

   While he served in the military, Elder Paul’s testimony was strengthened through a more intense study of the Book of Mormon and prayer.

   “After I received my own testimony, I put a maxim in my life to always put the Lord first,” Elder Paul said. “I know that when I put the Lord first, the rest will fall into place.”

   The year is 1989: The site is Dresden, East Germany: Looking one direction down Prague Street from the windows of the mission home, Mission President Wolfgang Paul and his family would watch as thousands and thousands of protesters marched from the railway station toward the center of Dresden demanding more freedom.

   Looking the other direction, they could see well-armed police with helmets and shields ready to squash the rebellion.

   These were tense times, remembers Elder Paul of those days when demonstrators protested in Soviet-controlled East Germany. The demonstrations turned violent on one occasion when the police suddenly — as if by signal — bolted into action, charging the demonstrators and beating them.

   "I never saw our children so frightened," he said looking back.

   At the time, Elder Paul was serving as president of the Germany Dresden Mission, the first mission president allowed to proselytize in East Germany in 50 years, since before the Berlin Wall was built.

   Elder Paul, at the age of 65, was sustained as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy during April, 2005 general conference. He has stood at the headwaters of some of the greatest political and social events in modern world history.

   "You could write a book about these times," he said. "There was so much happening."

   More important to him, he watched firsthand and up close as the Lord so miraculously removed the half-century old barriers that isolated a people from the gospel.

   Born in Muenster, in northern Germany, in 1940, Elder Paul grew up in the heat of the Cold War rhetoric. For him, the enemy was mean and menacing and lived behind the wall next door.

   "I never knew the wall could come down in my lifetime in such a peaceful way," said Elder Paul. "I never thought it could happen without violence. Maybe by force — but not so peacefully."

   Elder Paul remembered a late-night phone call from President Thomas S. Monson, then second counselor in the First Presidency. It was 1988 and Elder Paul was the newly serving president in the Hamburg mission.

   President Monson, with Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Hans B. Ringger of the Seventy, had just completed their historic meeting with East German government officials who granted the Church permission to send foreign missionaries.

   President Monson was calling to reassign Elder Paul to serve in East Germany. Elder Paul sensed that years of earnest prayer and diligent labor had brought about this opportunity to preach the gospel behind closed doors. Everything needed to be just right.

   Elder Paul knew they would be closely watched by communist officials and that the future of the Church in these countries depended on how he and his missionaries conducted the work.

   Crossing the East German border was not new to Elder Paul. He had crossed numerous times before and was accustomed to long, detailed searches.

   As he and his first eight missionaries approached the border on March 30, 1989, he anticipated a lengthy search of the Americans and their three vans of luggage.

   To his surprise, after showing their papers to border guards, they were passed through. "That was the first time I'd ever seen a guard wave," Elder Paul said.

   For the first time in half a century, foreign missionaries had entered a communist country. Two missionaries were promptly dropped in Berlin, two in Leipzig, two in Dresden, and two in Zwickau.

   Almost before they had places to live, they began teaching the families, friends and neighbors of members who had been prepared during that long season without the missionaries.

   "I'll never forget," said Elder Paul. "The next day I visited a family with the ward mission leader for an interview. On the third day, April 1, three members of that family were baptized. Later that day in general conference in Salt Lake City, it was reported that the first baptisms in East Germany had occurred.

   "From then on, baptisms were held nearly weekly," he said.

   While it would be 1 1/2 years before telephone service would be installed in the mission home, the mission during this time quickly grew to 160 missionaries.

   The sum of these experiences, and all others in Elder Paul's life, is: "When you put the Lord first, everything else falls into place."

   Raised in a faithful family, Elder Paul was a second-generation member who learned the gospel from his father, who, as a teenager years before, learned about the Church from a brochure left on the kitchen table. Elder Paul's father received permission from his father to be baptized in 1923 at age 21.

   Elder Paul never doubted the gospel, but it wasn't until he was serving in the military that his testimony was forged with a fiery witness. It came at a time when he hungered to know.

   One day, after a time of scripture study, while stationed in a small outpost in the French countryside, he prayed in a nearby forest and learned in a soul-burning experience the absolute truthfulness of the gospel.

   "I never doubted before this experience," he said. "Now I knew assuredly."

   Elder Paul also says that this increased testimony helped him focus on the things that were important to him in life. He made a commitment to marry a young woman who was a member of the Church, raise his children in the gospel, and focus on the right things.

   Elder Paul proved firm in those commitments. He married Helga Klappert on April 2, 1964, in the Bern Switzerland Temple, and they raised their three children in the gospel. His focus to do what is right continued.

   Elder Paul's faith was tested shortly thereafter as he was in school preparing for a major test that promised a secure position in the military. He spent weekends consumed by his duties as a counselor in the district presidency, while his colleagues began each new school week recounting what they had learned during the weekend.

   Elder Paul never studied during weekends and sometimes felt disadvantaged. But when he passed the exam, they doubted what he had said about his weekend activities.

   No matter the challenge, no matter the problem, the solution, said Elder Paul, is always to "serve the Lord first," his axiom for life that has never failed.

   Elder Paul served as an Area Seventy in the Europe Central Area. He graduated from the German Federal Government Administration Academy and worked as a government officer. After retirement,Elder Paul was also employed by the Church in a number of managerial and administrative positions in Europe.

   His Church experience included serving as Second Counselor in the Europe East Area Presidency, regional representative, mission president, counselor in a stake presidency, stake Young Men president, bishop, high priests group leader, branch president, and elders quorum president.

   In 1988, Elder Paul was called to serve as president of the Germany Hamburg Mission. In March 1989 his call was changed, and he served on the other side of the Berlin Wall until 1991 as the first president of the Germany Dresden Mission. He was born on February 28, 1940, in Muenster, Germany, to Johann Paul and Berta Starbati Paul.

   Elder Paul continued to serve in the Second Quorum until October 2, 2010. On that date he was released from the First Quorum of the Seventy with a vote of appreciation from a grateful Church.


Bibliography
"Wolfgang H. Paul Biography," Church News Archives, June 25, 2005
"Witness to history," Church News Archives, June 25, 2005
"News of the Church: Elder Wolfgang H. Paul of the Seventy," The Ensign, May 2005


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