Gordon B. Hinckley

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Gordon Bitner Hinckley (born June 23, 1910) has been President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("LDS Church"; see also Mormon) since March 1995. Additionally, at times when President Hinckley's predecessors were in poor health, Hinckley performed most of the duties of the Church President. As president of the Church, he is considered by faithful members to be a prophet of God, one entitled to revelation for the entire church and standing as a witness of the Savior just as prophets in former generations of time were called to do.

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, he completed high school there in 1928. After attending the University of Utah he was called to go on a mission to London in 1933; an unusual occurrence for Depression-era Saints. Hinckley returned to the United States in 1935 and soon accepted a job offer to lead the Church's new public relations department (he had been schooled as a journalist in college). Hinckley's responsibilities included developing the Church's fledgling radio broadcasts and making use of the era's new communication technologies. From 1937 he served on the Sunday School General Board. On April 29, 1937, he married Marjorie Pay (November 23, 1911 - April 6, 2004). They had been married 67 years at the time of her death.

After service in a stake presidency, he became a General Authority of the Church in the now discontinued position of Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1958. In 1961 he himself became an Apostle and member of that Quorum, the youngest at that time.

In the early 1980s the ill health of both Church President Spencer W. Kimball and his octogenarian Counselors N. Eldon Tanner and Marion G. Romney led the Church leadership to resort to the occasional practice of adding an additional Counselor to the First Presidency, and Hinckley filled this position on July 23, 1981. On Tanner's death in 1982, Romney succeeded him as First Counselor and Hinckley succeeded Romney as Second Counselor.

By this time, however, Hinckley was largely shouldering the burdens of the First Presidency himself. Though nominally he remained Second Counselor, he was informally referred to in the press as "acting President of the Church." Kimball and Romney remained largely out of the public eye until President Kimball died in November 1985.

Longtime President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Ezra Taft Benson became Church President, and named Hinckley First Counselor. Romney succeeded Benson as President of the Twelve, though he never exercised the duties of this position. Thomas S. Monson became Second Counselor, and, for a while, all three members of the First Presidency were able to perform their duties.

In the early 1990s however, the nonagenarian Benson developed serious health problems that removed him from public view, and First Counselor Hinckley again carried out many of the duties of the President of the Church until Benson died in 1994. Howard W. Hunter, who had succeeded Romney as President of the Twelve, became Church President and confirmed Hinckley and Monson as his Counselors, Hinckley additionally becoming President of the Twelve by seniority. And when Hunter died after a presidency of only nine months, Hinckley was called to be president of the Church at the age of 84 (his two predecessors had both acceded at age 86) after being unanimously sustained by members of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Church President Gordon B. Hinckley in an interview with his friend, broadcaster , c. 1998. Courtesy .
Enlarge
Church President Gordon B. Hinckley in an interview with his friend, broadcaster Larry King, c. 1998. Courtesy Larry King Live.

Vigorous for his age, Hinckley has led the Church since March 12 1995; he is now the third oldest president in Church history. (Mrs. Hinckley became popularly known as the "first lady" until her 2004 death.)

Hinckley is known for his aggressive building of temples. Under his leadership, the Church has expanded its number of temples from 27 to 119 (as of May 2005, with 10 announced or under construction). In 2000 alone, more LDS temples opened (34) than existed at the time of Hinckley's ordination to the Presidency. Hinckley has also overseen other building projects like the LDS Conference Center.

On 23 September 1995 he announced and read The Family: A Proclamation to the World, a statment of belief and counsel prepared by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.

Hinckley has underscored the sacred nature of the human body and has encouraged members of the church to abstain from receiving tattoos. In the General Relief Society Conference held in September 2000, he spoke out against the practice of men wearing earrings or women wearing more than one pair of earrings . This counsel has had a marked impact on the behavior and choices of the general church membership with regard to their appearance.

Awards

On June 23, 2004, President George W. Bush awarded Hinckley the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor awarded by the United States, in a ceremony at the White House. The press release put forth by the White House stated:

"Gordon B. Hinckley [...] has inspired millions and has led efforts to improve humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and education funding across the globe."

Bibliography

President Hinckley has written several books, including:

External links



Preceded by:
Howard W. Hunter
President of the LDS Church
1995
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Howard W. Hunter
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
19941995
Succeeded by:
Thomas S. Monson

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