My beloved prophet has died. Gordon Bittner Hinckley passed away tonight from age related causes at the age of 97. He was surrounded by his family and was anxious to be reunited with his sweet wife who had passed away four years ago.
I heard one reporter say that President Hinckley had done more for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormons, save for Joseph Smith, Jr. To understand the full impact of that statement, you must read the words written by another prophet of God about the assassination of Joseph Smith, Jr.
Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. In life they were not divided, and in death they were not separated! (D&C 135:3)
Gordon B. Hinckley was called to the office of prophet, seer and revelator on March 12, 1995, after the death of President Howard W. Hunter. At that time there were 47 working temples in the world. As of this night, when President Hinckley has returned to his heavenly home, the Church is closing in on 150 working temples. A huge accomplishment and one driven by this beloved prophet determined to bring the covenants and ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to every people.
President Hinckley reached out to the world, one of the most visible prophets the world has ever known. He has traveled to every land where saints (Mormons) gather, has taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who would hear and has loved the membership of the Church with a love only a prophet of the Lord God Jesus Christ could feel. He has brought the Church from obscurity into the forefront of the news with instances such as agreeing to be interviewed by the likes of Larry King and Mike Wallace.
But more than all this was the loving and delightful way in which he shared the gospel. Always with a twinkle in his eye, but a loving and sincere heart, he would beseech the world to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. He always invoked a prophetic blessing on the members of the Church twice a year. And each time this blessing was spoken, my heart leaped for joy. Oh the peace that comes into the heart of one who understands the great gift given in a living prophet of God. And my heart is no different.
And yet, tonight I am saddened by his passing, but also have no doubt that he is now reunited with Marjorie, his loving wife. He has missed her so much. He has, without question, been greeted by the prophets of the ages and a great celebration has arisen in the heavens at the return of one of Heavenly Father’s most valiant sons and one of Jesus Christ’s prophets. There is no question in my mind that he has been gathered into the arms of our Savior and told, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” And indeed, he was a much loved prophet, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great grandfather.
We shall not be long without a prophet, for an established and sacred pattern has been followed 15 times in these modern days. The next prophet will be the 16th prophet of the Church, and will most likely be President Thomas S. Monson, who is the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. However, the new prophet will not be called, ordained or announced until after President Hinckley’s funeral.
But before we say goodbye to this man, this prophet of God, I came to love, admire, respect and revere as the mouthpiece of the Lord, I’d like to remember some of his teachings:
Are we Christians?
“Are we Christians? Of course we are! No one can honestly deny that. We may be somewhat different from the traditional pattern of Christianity. But no one believes more literally in the redemption wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ. No one believes more fundamentally that He was the Son of God, that He died for the sins of mankind, that He rose from the grave, and that He is the living resurrected Son of the living Father.
“All of our doctrine, all of our religious practice stems from that one basic doctrinal position: ‘We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.’ This is the first article of our faith, and all else flows therefrom” (meeting with Religion Newswriters Association, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 14 Sept. 1997).
“I urge you with all the capacity that I have to reach out in a duty that stands beyond the requirements of our everyday lives; that is, to stand strong, even to become a leader in speaking up in behalf of those causes which make our civilization shine and which give comfort and peace to our lives. You can be a leader. You must be a leader, as a member of this Church, in those causes for which this Church stands. Do not let fear overcome your efforts, for as Paul wrote to Timothy: ‘For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind’ (2 Tim. 1:7). Fear comes not from God but from the evil one. The adversary of all truth would put into your heart a reluctance to make an effort. Cast that fear aside and be valiant in the cause of truth and righteousness and faith. If you now decide that this will become the pattern of your life, you will not have to make that decision again. You will put on the ‘armour of God’ and raise your voice in defense of truth, whatever the circumstances now and in all the years that lie ahead (see Eph. 6:11)” (Brigham Young University devotional, Marriott Center, 17 Sept. 1996).
The Book of Mormon
“I would like to urge every man and woman … and every boy and girl who is old enough to again read the Book of Mormon during this coming year. This was written for the convincing of the Jew and the Gentile that Jesus is the Christ. There is nothing we could do of greater importance than to have fortified in our individual lives an unshakable conviction that Jesus is the Christ, the Living Son of the Living God. And, my brothers and sisters, that is the purpose of the coming forth of this remarkable and wonderful book. May I suggest that you read it again and take a pencil, a red one if you have one, and put a little check mark every time there is a reference to Jesus Christ in that book. And there will come to you a very real conviction as you do so that this is in very deed another witness for the Lord Jesus Christ” (Corpus Christi, Texas, regional conference, 7 Jan. 1996).
Mandate to the Church
“Nobody, no group of people who ever walked the earth, has received a more all-encompassing mandate than have we. We are responsible for the whole human race, past, present, and yet to come. It is for this reason that we have missionaries—to bless the human race of this generation. It is for this reason that we have temples—to bless the human race of past generations. And we shall continue to be engaged in this work through all the generations yet to come” (fireside in Crawley, England, 26 Aug. 1995).
“I hope you recognize that the greatest asset you have in time or eternity is the woman with whom you joined hands over the altar in the house of the Lord, and to whom you pledged your love and loyalty and affection for time and for all eternity in those sacred precincts. Those covenants are tremendously important—so very, very important” (Tacoma, Washington, regional conference, priesthood leadership meeting, 19 Aug. 1995).
Rearing of Families
“There is too much of selfishness. There is too much of worldliness in our homes. We need to get back to the basics of respect one for another and concern one for another, love and appreciation for another, working together, worshiping together, and living together as families who love the Lord and look to Him for light and strength and comfort. Rear our families in the nurture and admonition of the Lord as He instructs us to do. That’s my message” (Church News, 7 June 1995).
Of Our Divine Heritage
All of earth’s children are the sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. Fatherhood denotes brotherhood and sisterhood. We are of His family, you and I. We have within each of us something of His divinity. We have an obligation one to another. We are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is the Light of Christ which has brought into the world an enlarged sense of brotherhood. While there is much of darkness and strife, of brutality and evil in our time, there is yet more of appreciation and respect, of reaching down and helping, of giving and loving than at any previous period in the history of the world, I so believe.
At this glad season how grateful we should feel. “He, watching over Israel, slumbers not nor sleeps” (see Ps. 121:4). He walked the earth as our teacher, our leader, our exemplar, our Lord. Through His matchless Atonement, He did for each of us what we could not do for ourselves. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15:55). Through His great atoning sacrifice, He cut the knot of the cords that bound us and gave us freedom to go forward on the road to immortality and eternal life. He is our Lord, our Master, our Redeemer, our King, our Ruler, and our God. Without Him there is no salvation. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Thomas S. Monson, and James E. Faust, “First Presidency Christmas Devotional: ‘My Redeemer Lives’,” Ensign, Feb 2001, 70–73)
Learn, Study and Grow
“Get the whole picture of this glorious gospel of salvation. The whole picture which encompasses all of mankind—those living now, those who have lived in the past, and those who will yet come upon the earth. That’s the breadth and depth and height of our responsibility as men who hold the priesthood in this Church, and we must go forward on a bold front doing all the work that is expected of us and doing it faithfully as well” (Vacaville/Santa Rosa, California, regional conference, priesthood leadership meeting, 20 May 1995).
He has been my prophet for 13 years and I have grown in the gospel to the level of theologian under his stewardship. Like 13,000,000 plus other MOrmonss across the world, we all mourn his passing but in equal fervor, express our gratitude for his unfailing service, love and devotion to Jesus Christ and His kingdom on the earth. I testify to the world, would even shout it upon the rooftops if I could, that Gordon B. Hinckley was a prophet of God, so chosen by Him, to lead the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through this exciting and troubled phase of the world. He was the prophet for our time.
And now, we look to a new era in the Mormon Church under the stewardship of the next prophet. It will be an exciting time and I look forward to it. Goodbye, President Hinckley.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Beloved Church President, Gordon B. Hinckley Dies at 97
Feature Story: Gordon B. Hinckley
Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley
Timeline of Significant Events of Gordon B. Hinckley as President of the Church
New York Times: Gordon B. Hinckley Dead