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Mormon Prophet Overview

Mormon Prophets

Joseph Smith Jr.

President and Prophet: 1830-1844
Joseph Smith Jr. was born on December 23, 1805. He was the fifth child born to Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. As a young boy Joseph was very curious about religion, and when he was fourteen he knelt and asked Heavenly Father which of all the churches he should join. Joseph saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and they told him that none of the churches was correct. Through revelation and other visions, Joseph received and translated the Book of Mormon, and organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also referred to as the Mormon Church) on April 6, 1830. On June 27, 1844, Joseph was killed by a mob and died as a martyr for the Church along with his brother Hyrum.

Brigham Young

Brigham Young MormonPresident and Prophet: 1847–1877
Brigham Young was born on June 1, 1801. He joined the Church in 1832 and was ordained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1835. Brigham Young is most known for leading the Mormon Pioneers across the plains to Utah. He led the building up of settlements across Utah and in other places on the frontier. Brigham Young also helped bring the railroad and telegraph to Utah. Brigham Young served as the President of the Church for thirty years. He passed away on August 29, 1877.

John Taylor

President and Prophet: 1880–1887
John Taylor was born in England on November 1, 1808. He later immigrated to Canada where missionaries from the Church taught and baptized him and his wife. John Taylor was called to be an apostle in 1838 and spent much of his time with Joseph Smith. Tayler was with Joseph when he was martyred, and was himself, seriously wounded, receiving four bullets. During his presidency the Church was persecuted for practicing polygamy and many members were denied the right to vote. He died on July 25, 1885.

Wilford Woodruff

President and Prophet: 1887–1898
Wilford Woodruff was born on March 1, 1807 in Connecticut. He joined the Church in 1833 and was ordained to be an apostle in 1839. In addition to serving as an apostle, Wilford Woodruff served six missions, served as President of the St. George Temple, and served as the Church Historian. He was officially sustained as President of the Church on April 7, 1889. Wilford Woodruff is probably most well known for issuing the manifesto that stopped polygamy within the Church. During the years that he was president, he stressed the importance of doing genealogy work and keeping histories. Wilford Woodruff dedicated two Mormon temples: the Salt Lake and Manti Temples. He passed away on September 2, 1898.

Lorenzo Snow

President and Prophet: 1898–1901
Born on April 3, 1814, Lorenzo grew up being academically inclined and studied religion vigorously. This study eventually led to his joining the Church in 1836. On September 13, 1898 he was sustained as the fifth president of the Church. Lorenzo Snow is noted for helping the Church become stable in the areas of finance and increasing the Mormon missionary effort.

Joseph F. Smith

President and Prophet: 1901–1918
Joseph F. Smith was the son of Joseph Smith’s brother Hyrum and was born in November 1838. At ten years old Joseph traveled with his mother to the Utah Valley. Joseph F. Smith was called as President of the Church on October 17, 1901. During the seventeen years he was president he helped improve the Church’s public image, bought and set up historic sites and visitors’ centers, clarified doctrines, and began the construction of a Church headquarters building. In 1904 he issued a second Manifesto adding a punishment of excommunication to the practice of polygamy, thus ending all polygamous unions in the Church.

Heber J. Grant

President and Prophet: 1918–1945
Heber J. Grant was born on November 22, 1856. His mother was widowed and Grant felt the need to provide for her. By the time he was 15 he had already started a business career. He served as an apostle for 37 years then became president on November 23, 1918. While president, Heber J. Grant dedicated three temples, increased missionary efforts, created the Welfare Program, and guided the Church through the Great Depression and World War II.

George Albert Smith

President and Prophet: 1945–1951
George Albert Smith was born on April 4, 1870. At 33 he was called as an apostle and in 1945 became President of the Church. He is noted for organizing the welfare and assistance that was sent to Europe after World War II and for supporting the scouting program in the Church. He passed away on his birthday in 1951.

David O. McKay

President and Prophet: 1951-1970
Born in 1873, David O. McKay was a good student and pursued a career in education. At 32 years old he was called as an apostle, a calling he served in for 44 years. In 1951, he was sustained as the President of the Church. Under his leadership the Church organized the first stake outside of the U.S. and he is noted for the slogan, “every member a missionary.”

Joseph Fielding Smith

President and Prophet: 1970-1972
Joseph Fielding Smith, born in 1876, was the son of Joseph F. Smith. He was called to be the President of the Church in 1970. Joseph Fielding Smith served the Church in numerous capacities throughout his life.  He served as president of the Salt Lake Temple, organized the evacuation of missionaries in Europe as World War II started, and was Church historian. While president, Smith dedicated two temples and better organized the Church’s structure. Joseph Fielding Smith was a wonderful writer and his works helped educate the rising generation of Saints.

Harold B. Lee

President and Prophet: 1972-1973
Harold B. Lee was born on March 28, 1899 in Idaho. He developed careers in government, education, and business. He was called to be an apostle in 1941 and worked to improve the Welfare Program. He was sustained as the President in 1972 and served for a short 18 months. But in that time he initiated organizational changes within the Church that helped it dramatically as it began to grow.

Spencer W. Kimball

President and Prophet: 1973-1985
Born on March 28, 1895, Spencer W. Kimball served diligently in many Church callings and was then called to be an apostle in 1943. During the time he was president the Church experienced amazing growth. The number of temples and missionaries doubled. Spencer W. Kimball is probably most well known for his announcement that all worthy males could receive the Priesthood.

Ezra Taft Benson

President and Prophet: 1985-1994
Born on March 4, 1899, Ezra Taft Benson grew up on a farm in Idaho. He served a mission for the Church in England and then pursued a career in agriculture. He served as the Secretary of Agriculture for the U.S. Government from 1953 to 1961, during this time he also served as an apostle. He was sustained as the President on November 10, 1985 and stressed the importance of the Book of Mormon throughout his time as President.

Howard W. Hunter

President and Prophet: 1994-1995
Howard W. Hunter was born on November 14, 1907. He enjoyed music and toured with a band for five months. After getting married he decided to give up his music career so that he could be a part of his family’s life. He studied law and became a successful lawyer. He was called to be an apostle in 1959 and served in this position for 35 years.  He was sustained as the President of the Church on June 5, 1994. Howard W. Hunter is known for encouraging all members to become worthy of going to the temple.

Gordon B. Hinckley

President and Prophet: 1995-2008
Gordon B. Hinckley was born on June 23, 1910, and served the Church in various callings from the time he was a young man. He served as the secretary of the Church’s publicity department and was then called to be an apostle in 1961. He then served as a counselor to President Kimball, President Benson, and President Hunter before being called to be the President on March 12, 1995. He directed the building of numerous temples, as well as increasing the public’s awareness and understanding of the Church.

Thomas S. Monson

President and Prophet: 2008 –
Thomas S. Monson was born August 21, 1927, in Salt Lake City, Utah.  As a boy he was very compassionate.  President Monson served in the Navy and then graduated cum laude from the University of Utah with a degree in business management. In the same year he married Frances Beverly Johnson, and they eventually had 3 children.  President Monson earned an MBA from BYU and then worked in publishing.  He has a photographic memory and a flawless long-term memory.  He was a very young and dedicated Bishop, and served the Church constantly until he was called as an apostle in 1963.  He is the current prophet to the world and to over 13 million Latter-day Saints.  He is continuing the temple-building program begun by Gordon B. Hinckley, and is placing strong emphasis on preparedness for tough times ahead.

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