SALT LAKE CITY — The leader of Mormon Church Thomas S Monson has died aged 90. Thomas S Monson was the 16th president of the LDS Church, he died at 10:01 p.m. Tuesday in his Salt Lake City home.
He had been at the helm of the church for nearly 10 years as prophet-leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Millions of latter-day saints (Mormons) across the world are saddened to see what has been described by the church as a closure of a distinctive era in church leadership. During his time as one of the longest-serving apostles in Mormon history, church membership expanded from 2.1 million members to 15.9 million.
Thomas S Monson will be most remembered for his individual ministry, a relentless drive to go to the rescue. President Monson’s biographer described his lifelong, tender ministry to widows, the lost, the obscure, the dying and the downtrodden as a portable pool of Bethesda, the New Testament place of mercy and grace where waters made the lame whole and Jesus Christ healed a paralyzed man. President Monson carried what he himself termed “Bethesda’s blessing” of heartfelt ministry to a grease pit, countless hospitals and behind the Iron Curtain.
A large, faithful, energetic, gregarious, intelligent man with a prodigious recall that allowed him to memorize talks and remember everyone he met, President Monson shot through the ranks of church leadership, as a bishop at age 22 and president of the faith’s Canadian Mission at 31. He was unthinkably young, just 36, when he was ordained a modern apostle of Jesus Christ on Oct. 4, 1963. No one younger has been called as an LDS apostle in more than a century. The last younger apostle, Joseph Fielding Smith, was ordained at age 33 in 1910; he also lived to become church president.
The senior quorums of the LDS Church are vaults of institutional memory. New apostles are trained by the quorum’s senior apostles. As a new apostle in 1963, President Monson joined a quorum with a handful of men who knew or were raised by Latter-day Saint pioneers who crossed the plains in 1847. They could speak from experience about the church before the Manifesto that ended polygamy in 1890.
By the time of his death, his past relationships in the quorum made President Monson unique among living LDS senior leadership. He was the final prophet to have served in the Twelve with church leaders who had known men who knew the first, Joseph Smith.
President Monson also was the final living apostle called to the Twelve by late church President David O. McKay. He was the last apostle alive who had served with President McKay’s immediate successors at the head of the church, Joseph Fielding Smith and Harold B. Lee. The man expected to succeed President Monson, President Russell M. Nelson, is 93, but he was ordained an apostle more than 20 years after President Monson, in 1984.
President Monson spent more than three decades in the First Presidency. He spent a total of 54 years as an apostle. Only four men in LDS history served longer in the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve — President McKay, Heber J. Grant, Joseph Fielding Smith and Wilford Woodruff.