In The Family Circle – Temple Square Plaza

In The Family Circle

By Dennis Smith

Fundraising for Church Plaza Location

Goal $250,000


In The Family Circle Nauvoo Women’s Center 1978
Dennis Smith designed many statues for the ‘Nauvoo Women’s Center’. One of the major pieces for the center was “In The Family Circle”. This piece is a depiction of parents encouraging their daughter as she takes her first steps. With the family unit central to the LDS Church doctrine, this statue and all it represents resonated with the thousands and now millions who have visited Nauvoo over the years. The family unit theme of the piece isn’t just applicable to members of the LDS church. The smaller model statue was cast in both bronze and porcelain and has been used to share the message of families and their importance for over forty years. One of the most prominent stories of the statue and its impact was told by then Elder Thomas S. Monson. It reads:
President Thomas S. Monson, left, presents a statue to Erich Honecker, chairman of State Council of the German Democratic Republic, as Elder Russell M. Nelson; Henry J. Burkhardt, president of the Freiberg Temple; Manfred Schutze, president of the Leipzig Stake; and Frank Apel, Freiberg Stake president, look on in 1988. (Deseret Morning News Archives)

“Prior to World War II, (the area of East Germany) was the most productive area of the German-speaking world as pertained to missionary success …. Decades later, the church received permission from the communist government to build chapels in the country, and then a temple in Freiberg.”

“A miracle of miracles had taken place. One more was needed. How can the church grow without missionaries? How can our numbers increase despite an aging population?”

“Such was the dilemma uppermost on my mind as my plane landed in Berlin that October afternoon. We went forward with the vital assignment to visit with the leaders of the German Democratic Republic…. We were driven to the chambers of the chief representatives of the government.”

“Beyond the exquisite entry to the building, we were greeted by Chairman (Erich) Honecker. We presented to him the statuette First Step, depicting a mother helping her child take its first step toward its father. He was highly pleased with the gift.” Chairman Honecker began: ‘We know members of your church believe in work; you’ve proven that. We know you believe in the family; you’ve demonstrated that. We know you are good citizens in whatever country you claim as home; we have observed that. The floor is yours. Make your desires known”

“I began, ‘Chairman Honecker, at the dedication and open house for the temple in Freiberg, 89,890 of your countrymen stood in line, at times up to four hours, frequently in the rain, that they might see a house of God. In the city of Leipzig, at the dedication of the stake center, 12,000 people attended the open house. In the city of Dresden there were 29,000 visitors; in the city of Zwickau, 5,300…. They want to know what we believe.

“‘We would like to tell them that we believe in honoring and obeying and sustaining the law of the land. We would like to explain our desire to achieve strong family units. These are but two of our beliefs. We cannot answer questions, and we cannot convey our feelings, because we have no missionary representatives here as we do in other countries. The young men and young women whom we would like to have come to your country as missionary representatives would love your nation and your people…. Then we would like to see young men and young women from your nation who are members of our church serve as missionary representatives in many nations, such as in America, in Canada, and in a host of others. They will return better prepared to assume positions of responsibility in your land.’

“Chairman Honecker then spoke for perhaps 30 minutes, describing his objectives and viewpoints and detailing the progress made by his nation. At length, he smiled and addressed me and the group: ‘We know you. We trust you. We have had experience with you. Your missionary request is approved.”‘

General Conference, April 1989

With the decades long success of the “In The Family Circle” we were approached with the opportunity to forward that vision and give the sculpture an updated look.


In The Family Circle 2015

Dennis Smith began his revised edition by focusing on two key elements.

1. Keep the same theme, feeling, and message as the original.
2. Make the piece more contemporary by updating clothing, hairstyles, and even small changes in posture.

Some notable changes from the original version.

-Dress and Hairstyle of Woman
-Dress and Hairstyle of Toddler
-Pants, shoes, and shirt of man
-Prominent Wedding Rings visible

The figures were also brought a bit closer together to create a more unified look.


Not just placement but optimization of message
Five Locations were presented to the First Presidency and Presiding Bishopric for consideration.  The first locations marked by a “1” was on Temple Square proper in a larger planted just East of the North Visitors Center.  The placement of the statue was completely up to them and would be the first such placement of a statue in several decades
Ultimately location #4 was chosen. This spot creates beautiful symmetry between Dennis Smith’s Joyful Moment sculpture which sits directly south, the water feature, and the wedding pedestal just to the west. This will also be a great point of discussion with those not of the LDS faith who will come to the Church Office building and Church Administration building to visit. Furthermore, in late 2016 the small resin version of In The Family Circle was adopted as the new gift for the Church’s VIP department which handles all visiting dignitaries from around the world.


An Anonymous Gift – A Legacy For Generations

This is a very unique opportunity to participate in something that will have a very large impact

The piece, In The Family Circle Edition 2/12, is scheduled to be installed Mid-Late August 2017

• The donation has to be anonymous and won’t receive public recognition from the church or anyone.
• You will receive a receipt from Heritage Arts that you can use for your records.
• Donations cover all costs associated with sculpting, molding, casting, and installing a larger than life bronze statue.
• A portion of the funds will cover donated resin maquettes for Special Properties division.
• A portion of the funds will cover donated bronze maquettes in the board rooms of the First Presidency, and Presiding Bishopric.
• If fundraising goals are met then all remaining funds will roll into other Heritage Arts projects.