President Gordon B. Hinckley, the prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called “the Mormons”), passed away on Sunday evening of this week. Since that time, tributes and condolences from many individuals and organizations have poured in to Church headquarters in Salt Lake City. Following are selections from just a few of those that they have posted on the Church website at the Newsroom on www.lds.org:
President George W. Bush: “Gordon demonstrated the heart of a servant and the wisdom of a leader. He was a tireless worker and a talented communicator who was respected in his community and beloved by his congregation.”
Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut: “President Hinckley was known and beloved throughout the world for his spiritual guidance and good works. His life story was quintessentially an American one – and he tirelessly dedicated his life to building his Church and promoting our nation’s ideals of understanding and tolerance.”
Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish, Episcopal Diocese of Utah: “Like so many others, I have been deeply touched by his generous wisdom, kindly voice and delicate humor. In my youth and when I returned to Utah to lead another church, he has always been the quintessential ‘good neighbor.’ …His journey here was long and his faith so strong, that his very presence made us all want to embrace life as fully and well as he did.”
Paul Cobb, Publisher, Post News Group; Publisher, El Mundo : “I was scheduled for a brief 20 minute interview that turned into a 1 and 1/2 hour long engaging discussion on the reasons for the church’s phenomenal growth in Africa and Latin America. We talked about race relations and the incredible developments with Freedman’s Bank records that will help one third of all African Americans find their roots and have the Alex Haley experience. He invited me to join him on his next visits to Africa and Brazil.
I later met him in Manhattan and Harlem on his unannounced trip. He remembered me and engaged in the follow-up small talk from the stage while thousands watched. What a mind. What a memory and what an engaging genuine personality.”
Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple of Utah: “President Hinckley was a giant among men. He guided the Church through times of change in our world while preserving the core values of kindness and respect for fellow man. Leading by example, he upheld family values, tolerance, patience and service to God in daily life. He also had immense respect for other religions and was supportive of the diversity of current day Utah.”
There are many more tributes and expressions of admiration and sympathy than I can post here in this forum. But I am impressed that those who made these tributes can point to specific qualities that President Hinckley exhibited, and even specific occasions where he touched their lives.
It was said of the great military leader Captain Moroni in the Book of Mormon: “If all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.” (Alma 48:17.)
I believe the same could be said of President Gordon B. Hinckley. Yes, he and Captain Moroni and other great men who have walked the face of the earth are humans and had weaknesses to deal with. (Jesus Christ is the exception to that.) But they strove to overcome their weaknesses and became great forces for good. Just according to these tributes alone, President Hinckley was a tireless worker, faithful, tolerant, promoted tolerance, a great communicator, and so much more. If we would all work to overcome our weaknesses and reach out to others in tolerance and love, working tirelessly for the good of others, how much better the world would be for it!