President Gordon Bitner Hinckley, 15th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints passed away at 7pm on Sunday, January 27, 2008. He was 97 years old and had served as President of the Church just shy of 13 years, beginning his service on March 12, 1995.
President Hinckley's accomplishments during the past 12+ years are amazing. The following is just a partial list:
Temple/Family History Work
- Built and dedicated 87 temples with 12 others announced and/or under construction. (The Rexburg, Idaho Temple will be dedicated on Sunday, February 3rd)
- Among the Temples dedicated were: Nauvoo, Illinois (Rebuilt); Palmyra, New York (Next to the Sacred Grove); Winter Quarters, Nebraska (Next to a Pioneer Cemetery); Accra, Ghana; and Abba, Nigeria (West Africa's first temples).
- Every Spanish speaking country in South America now has a temple.
- The numer of temples in Mexico went from 1 to 12.
- Family history website launched - http://www.familysearch.org/
- New.Familysearch.org established to greatly improve our Family History Work
- The Record Indexing project started to make obscure records available in formats that are easier to read/understand and are much more accessible
- Worthiness Standards for Prospective Missionaries raised
- "Preach My Gospel" published and used by missionaries throughout the church
- Number of missionaries increased from 47,311 to 53,164
- Number of missions increased from 303 in 1995 to 344 as of 12/31/2006
- Membership of the church increased 3,975,431 to approximately 13 million from 9,024,569
- Number of Stakes grew from 2,008 to 2,745
- Number of Wards/Branches grew from 21,774 to 27,475
- Church website http://www.lds.org/ launched
- Celebration for the 150th anniversary of the Mormon Pioneers entering the Salt Lake Valley
- President Hinckley's numerous interviews with the press and appearance on shows such as 60 Minutes and Larry King Live
Perfection of the Saints
- The Perpetual Education Fund was established, giving hope to worthy young people and giving them an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty.
- Millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours given in service during natural disasters all over the world
- Building the Conference Center so that more of us could attend General Conference
- Changing Ricks College to BYU Idaho
- Traveling more than any other prophet to visit the saints where they live
- Publishing "The Family - A Proclamation to the World"
- Publishing "The Living Christ - The Testimony of the Apostles"
- Writing several books on moral values and "Standing for Something"
- Establishing the 3rd through 8th Quorums of the 70 to help administer the Church throughout the world.
- Beginning Area Conference Broadcasts so that we can more regularly hear from general authorities
- Issuing new Temple Recommend designs to better safe-guard the sanctity of the temple and to help leaders better keep track of when recommends expires so we can follow up with the members.
- Lengthening the validity of recommends to two years to help ease the interview burdens of bishoprics and stake presidencies.
Although I have never met President Hinckley, I have been personally blessed by his life, his example, and his great desire to make all of our lives be better. For my family, one of the most direct blessings of his service is the Colonia Juarez, Chihuahua Mexico Temple. During the dedicatory prayer for that temple President Hinckley said the following:
"It was here in Northern Mexico, that Thou didst reveal the idea and the plan of a smaller temple, complete in every necessary detail, but suited in size to the needs and circumstances of the Church membership in this area of Thy vineyard. That revelation came of a desire and a prayer to help Thy people of these colonies who have been true and loyal during the century and more that they have lived here. They are deserving of this sacred edifice in which to labor for themselves and their forebears."
I think that the phrase "That revelation came of a desire and a prayer to help Thy people" exemplifies the life and mission of President Hinckley. He would visit us in our communities and see what our needs were. Then he would study, ponder, and pray about those needs and then receive a revelation that would become a tremendous blessing to all of us.
He has watched over us all with the tender and loving concern you would expect from a servant of God. I can't even begin to express my love for this wonderful man who I have gladly sustained as our prophet for the past 12+ years. I thank my Father in Heavan for sending His servant, Gordon B. Hinckley, to lead our church in these last days. God bless the memory of President Hinckley!