Sunday night reception honors outgoing Illinois Nauvoo Mission president

Posted: Jan. 12, 2012 9:46 am Updated: Feb. 2, 2012 5:15 pm

NAUVOO, Ill. -- A Sunday night reception will mark a change in leadership of the restored 1840s village maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo.

The reception for outgoing mission president, Robert Ludwig and his wife Martha, begins at 7 p.m. at the Historic Nauvoo Visitors Center.

The Ludwigs have presided over the Illinois Nauvoo Mission since January 2008. They have completed their term of service and will return to private life in Denver, Colo.

"We have absolutely loved our time in Nauvoo," Ludwig said. "We have developed so many wonderful friendships with the people of this special place, it will be hard to say goodbye."

A hallmark of Ludwig's presidency has been his commitment to make every segment of the community feel welcome in the historic village. As a member of Nauvoo's Interfaith Partnership, Ludwig enjoyed the opportunity to work with leaders of other faith communities to promote common goals.

"We have come to appreciate Bob's dedication to his church and his commitment to our community. We hate to see him leave," said Lee Ourth, a Nauvoo City Council member and a leader in the local Community of Christ congregation.

The church's First Presidency called Russell Gilliland and his wife, Karen, of Phoenix to replace the Ludwigs. The new mission president had a career in the construction industry, and he has previously served in a wide range of leadership positions in the church.

As president of the Illinois Nauvoo Mission, Gilliland will oversee operations of an attraction that annually draws over 150,000 visitors. Maintaining high standards for guest relationships and helping the officials and residents of Nauvoo cope with the annual onslaught of visitors will be major challenges for Gilliland.