Gordon Bittner Hinckley
Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) was the 15th president of the Mormon Church. President Hinckley travelled widely—more than any other LDS prophet. He was extremely well-educated and kept current on world events, meeting with many world leaders. President Hinckley used mass communication to put forth the message of the Church, even appearing on television talk shows. President Hinckley began the program of building more, smaller temples, so that LDS members worldwide could have access to the blessings of temple attendance and covenants.
Gordon Bitner Hinckley held the position of prophet and president of the Church from March 12, 1995, until January 27, 2008, when he died of causes incident to age. He had served in a full-time capacity for the Church since 1958. At 97 years old, he was the oldest person ever to preside over the Church. For more information, see Beloved Church President Gordon B. Hinckley dies at 97.
Gordon B. Hinckley was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on June 23, 1910, to Bryant S. and Ada Bitner Hinckley. He attended the University of Utah, where he received a journalism degree. Afterwards he served a mission to Great Britain. When he returned from his mission, Gordon B. Hinckley accepted a job with the Church’s public relations department. In 1937, he married Marjorie Pay. They were married for 67 years before her death in 2004.Gordon B. Hinckley served as a General Authority in the Mormon Church since 1958. He became the prophet after the death of Howard W. Hunter in 1995. During his formal introduction as the Church’s new president a reporter asked “‘What will be your focus? What will be the theme of your administration?’ Instinctively the prophet answered, ‘Carry on. Yes. Our theme will be to carry on the great work which has been furthered by our predecessors.’”
That is exactly what he did; during his presidency Gordon B. Hinckley made some impressive strides in furthering the work of his predecessors:
- Church membership grew from 9 million to over 13 million members as of 2007.
- As of 2006, the number of Mormon temples worldwide grew from 27 to 122, with 13 more announced or under construction. The reason is simple, President Hinckley said, “The sacred and important work that goes on in temples must be accelerated, and for this to happen, it is necessary that temples be taken closer to the people rather than having the people travel so far to temples… These temples are there to be used, and those who use them will reap a blessing of harmony in their lives. They will draw nearer unto the Lord, and He will draw nearer unto them.” There are now temples on every continent except Antarctica.
- In 1995, The Family: A Proclamation to the World, which states the Church’s beliefs and stand on the importance of and role of families, was announced and read.
- “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” which is a declaration and witness of the divinity and role of the Savior Jesus Christ, was released in 2000.
- Then in 2001, Gordon B. Hinckley, announced the Perpetual Education Fund, “a large endowment that provides loans to students in developing nations. It is funded entirely by donations, with the assumption that students will pay back into the fund when they are able.”
- The Church’s humanitarian efforts grew. In 1994, President Gordon B. Hinckley stated, “Some 98 million dollars in cash and in-kind assistance have been distributed in the past year.” The White House recognized Gordon B. Hinckley’s humanitarian efforts, and the Church’s, when he received the Medal of Freedom in 2004. “The White House said that, as president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1995, Hinckley has ‘inspired millions and has led efforts to improve humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and education funding across the globe.’”
- The prophet President Gordon B. Hinckley traveled extensively, visiting members and meeting with dignitaries in many countries on all of the continents except Antarctica.
The Mormon prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley, advocated values which have made the United States great, values that are slipping away, such as: marriage between a man and woman, no abortion, no pre-marital sex and complete fidelity within marriage, no drugs, alcohol, or tobacco use, the importance of families, and other values. When asked if the best way to correct the slipping values was to ban certain things, the prophet replied, ” The way to correct that is to teach. Joseph Smith the founder of this Church said ‘I teach the people correct principles and they govern themselves’. That’s the essence of the thing. Teach the principle and learn and let people govern themselves.”
Under the direction of President Gordon B. Hinckley the Mormon missionary program changed its focus to member missionary work, encouraging members to share the gospel message with their friends and neighbors. Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley taught members, “Let us be more neighborly. Let us be kind. Let us be gracious to those in our midst who are not of our faith. Let us be helpful and generous and good. Let us be Latter-day Saints in the full and complete meaning of that word.”
This article was adapted from the article on Gordon B. Hinckley at MormonWiki.com.