Joseph Smith Jr. was called to be a prophet in Upstate New York in the Spring of 1820. He and his brother Hyrum Smith were martyred by a mob in Carthage, Illinois on June 27, 1844. Joseph was followed by President Brigham Young, the so-called “American Moses,” and second prophet of the Church, who led the early members of the Church cross-country to the mountain valleys of the west, with Salt Lake City serving as the Church’s worldwide headquarters. There have been 16 living prophets on earth since Joseph Smith (17 including him) and dozens of living apostles as well; today the line continues with the living prophet and apostles on earth today, President Russel M. Nelson, a former world-renowned heart surgeon who has served in the Church’s Quorum of the 12 Apostles since 1984, is the current prophet. President Nelson followed President Thomas S. Monson who I recently wrote about and loved deeply. Prior to Presidents Nelson and Monson, President Gordon B. Hinckley served (for 47 years); he was one of my favorite of all the brethren.
I say President Hinckley was one of my favorites in large part because of the way he was so open, honest, funny, and real. I’ve loved and honored each of these great men for the example they gave and their servant’s hearts, spirits, and the individual ways they’ve each had of leading over the years. Each prophet has had his own personality and distinguishing strengths. Each has left his own “legacy,” in ways, and has been known for personal focuses and zeal. President Hinckley, for example, was known as the “great temple builder” and for his straight-forward, outgoing personality and sense of humor. President Monson was known for the way he served others all his life, especially the widows in his personal congregation/neighborhood (before becoming an apostle in 1963 he served as one of the Church’s regional “stake” presidents and cared for some 80+ widows who he served for many, many years). President Nelson…? Well, we have yet to see what his contribution will be, but I personally think he’s going to be best remembered for the way in which he’s building bridges and reaching out to the world, peeling back some of the mystique surrounding the Church, and building connections with as many groups as he can. He’s really good at it.
Another reason Gordon B. Hinckley has a special place in my heart is probably because he was the prophet for so many years while I was growing up myself. He served as an apostle first then, later, as the President of the Church (from 1961 to 2008 in all). During his tenure as President, President Hinckley gave over 2,000 speeches;[Reference] he traveled nearly a million miles over a lifetime to more than 160 countries, as he met with church members and others, and he dedicated hundreds of meetinghouses and dozens of temples[Reference] (he dedicated or rededicated 92 different LDS temples worldwide under his tenure). In fact, he was the president when they announced, broke ground for, built, and dedicated the Anchorage, Alaska temple (the Church’s first miniature “neighborhood” temple). I was living there at the time so it was pretty neat being a part of it and seeing the prophet visit and dedicate it personally.
I mentioned I’m going to try to write a few shorter blog posts so I think I’ll wrap this one up here. I wanted to share these two videos, first of President Hinckley sharing his personal testimony and second in an interview with Larry King. This is one of his last addresses before passing in January 27, 2008 (below) if im not mistaken.
I encourage you to listen to it. It’s a powerful yet humble and touching message—the ideal example and combination of a “lion and a lamb” in the flesh. I can’t think of a more ideal example of how a prophet should be. I loved and appreciated him very much.
Enjoy the videos and have a great night!
Onward and upward,
Patrick Laing – Portland, Oregon USA
And, whatever you do, Click Below to hear President Hinckley’s personal testimony:
Click Below to view a cool interview with President Hinckley and Larry King: