EDINBURGH, Scotland — In this city known for the Castle Rock — where the historic Edinburgh Castle has stood for hundreds of years and human occupancy of the site dates back to the Iron Age — President M. Russell Ballard met with government leaders in the modern Scottish Parliament Building Tuesday.
Construction of the parliament building began in 1999 and the architecture represents the leaves and branches of a tree, Scottish Parliament member Stephen Kerr told President Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, during the visit.
Kerr, a Latter-day Saint and member of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, said he and President Ballard met with other members of Scottish Parliament, speaking about “issues facing Scotland at the moment.”
President Ballard also spoke about the Church of Jesus Christ and its potential “to unify and heal” a divisive world, said Kerr.
The pair were joined by Elder Massimo De Feo, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Church’s Europe Area.
President Ballard, who served as a Latter-day Saint missionary in England and Scotland for nearly 21⁄2 years starting in 1948, made the courtesy visit as part of a weeklong visit to the British Isles. Joined by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Elder Quentin L. Cook, both of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and themselves former missionaries in Great Britain, the trip marked “a coming home“ for the trio of senior church leaders.
Before meeting with Kerr, President Ballard visited a historic churchyard and cemetery in Tranent, Scotland, where his great-great-great grandparents are buried. “The footings of my foundations are here,” he said.
In the meeting with Kerr — a former member of the British Parliament who also served as an Area Seventy in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — President Ballard spoke about his own connection to Scotland.
“I was here in 1948 as a missionary,” he said, noting he returned to the area again in 1974 and has an association with Kerr that dates back to his childhood.
“Not only is he raising a wonderful family, he loves the Lord and he is a pillar in the church here. But he is doing remarkable work for the great country of Scotland by supporting the government and serving in the government in an admirable way.”
Looking at Kerr, President Ballard quipped: “We are going to keep you.”
“That is a great relief,” responded Kerr.