Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Gordon B. Hinckley: A Tribute to 75 Years of Missionary Service

European Mission(Liverpool) 6 May 1935 Second Row Second from Left

Gordon B. Hinckley will be remembered as one of the great missionaries in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His direct involvement in missionary work spanned from 1933 until 2008, nearly 75 years. From 1933 until 1935 at the age of 23, he served a two year mission in Great Britain in the European Mission headquartered in Liverpool. From 1935 until 1958 for twenty years, he was employed by the LDS Church as secretary (public relations officer)of the Radio, Publicity and Mission Literature Committee. For seven years from 1951 until 1958 he served in a church calling as executive secretary of the General Missionary Committee, at this time uniform missionary lessons were introduced into the missionary program. For fifty years from 1958 until 2008 as a general authority he helped shape missionary programs and policies. He assisted in dedicating lands for the preaching of the gospel. He was over the Asia Area of the Church as presiding authority. As president of the Church he was involved in the calling of thousands of mission presidents and hundreds of thousands of missionaries as well as the creation of new missions. He signed the missionary calls of over 600,000 missionaries in his twelve years ten months and fifteen days as President of the Church.

As the most traveled LDS President he has spoken to thousands of missionaries in over 60 countries giving hundreds of talks to groups of missionaries. Missionary work has been of his main subjects at numerous Stake, Regional (Area), and General Conferences. On 21 February 1999 at the age of 88 he addressed the largest group of missionaries ever assembled to that date by satellite. He set up on 31 March 2001 the Perpetual Education Fund which awards loans to students who repay them forward. Most recipients are return missionaries from underdeveloped countries who train for jobs after their missions. The current missionary plan, Preach My Gospel was introduced under his administration.

In May 2007 President Hinckley summarized his own accomplishment with information given him by M. Russell Ballard: "As all of you know, I was ordained and set apart as President of the Church 12 years ago, specifically on March 12, 1995. Elder Ballard has pulled together some figures concerning those 12 years. I quote from his statement:

• 387,750 missionaries have entered the mission field, which represents almost 40 percent of the missionaries who have ever served in this dispensation—that is, 40 percent in the 12 most recent years of the 177 years since the Church was organized.
• 3,400,000 converts have been baptized, which is the equivalent of over one-fourth of the total current membership of the Church.
• The total number of missions in the Church has increased from 303 to 344, with three more to be added soon.
• Retention as measured by sacrament meeting attendance, priesthood ordinations, and tithing faithfulness has increased significantly. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “‘I Am Clean’,” Ensign, May 2007, 60).

Elder Earl C. Tingey
, of the Presidency of the Seventy, said: “The Hinckley era invokes the image of missionary work to all the world. In the almost 13 years of President Hinckley’s presidency, over 400,000 missionaries have been called, representing over 40% of all missionaries ever called since the Church was organized.

Almost one third of members today were baptized since President Hinckley became our prophet. President Hinckley’s challenge to increase our missionary efforts and our retention of new converts remains a charge we are still working to achieve."

The information is taken from obituaries in newspapers after his passing, Church publications including biographical articles by Jeffrey R. Holland, Neal A. Maxwell, and M. Russell Ballard as well as his own personal conference statements. I have given links to sources so as to avoid any plagarism. The photographs were acquired through from various websites on Google and Yahoo.

Gordon Bitner Hinckley was born in Salt Lake City to Bryant S. Hinckley and Ada Bitner on 23 June 1910. He grew up in the Liberty Stake where his father was stake president in a city stake that had fifteen thousand members.

"Because his father believed that boys should learn to work, he bought a farm. The family lived there in the summer and went there on Saturdays in the spring and fall. They pruned trees in winter and early spring, then picked the fruit in late summer and early fall. Young Gordon learned to work hard. He also learned the beauty of nature that God has given us “and the bad things that happen when nature is abused."

His parents and good teachers in his ward taught him the gospel. Sometimes he learned lessons the hard way. One day he used the Lord’s name in vain, and his mother washed his mouth out with soap. “She then taught me about the Lord’s name and quoted to me the commandment against taking it in vain. … Since then I have never used the Lord’s name in vain, and I hope that I never shall.”

The family cottage, with its splendid mountain backdrop, was nestled in a stretch of land rolling with fruit trees and gardens. Cows grazed, horses raced, chickens roamed. The air was clean and fresh. The land held plenty of room to explore and plenty of opportunity to grow.

Bedtime was early because the call to chores came early in the morning when the dew still clung to tender grass and leaves. Farm work was hard work and everyone in the family was expected to do his or her part.

Weeding and watering the garden, gathering eggs, picking fruit, and attending to the chickens and horses went by quickly when everyone helped out. Father saved one chore especially for Gordon and his younger brother, Sherm.

The family cows would be the boys’ responsibility alone, and their father taught them how to care for the cows. Learning to tend to Polly and Beth wasn’t easy, but the reward was sweet, warm milk that the brothers enjoyed.

The milking companions were close in age, and even closer at heart. The two were inseparable in the city and nothing changed that on the farm. When they finished their chores, the warm summer days stretched before them, full of adventure. Drenched in summer sunlight, the brothers and best of friends rode in wagons, played on haystacks, and played tag."

Both his parents had been educators. His father was a history teacher who ended up managing the LDS Business College. He also invested in real estate which made him an additional income. His mother was a former English teacher who kept a large library at the Salt Lake City home that had over 1,000 books. He developed a love for reading and learning while growing up. The children would sit around the table reading the Harvard Classics.

Jeffrey R. Holland said of his childhood: the initial outlook was not quite so promising for Bryant S. and Ada Bitner Hinckley’s first son, born 23 June 1910 in Salt Lake City. As a child Gordon was not as healthy and robust as some. At age two he was stricken with whooping cough, the effects of which were threatening not only to the lungs but to the limbs and very life of such a young child. This malady would be followed by a serious history of asthma and allergies, all of which took their toll on the struggling lad’s health. “The boy needs more fresh air and sunlight,” the doctor told the anxious parents. So immediate plans were made to acquire a small farm in the East Millcreek area of Salt Lake City, in that day very much “in the country” from downtown Salt Lake City and quite literally “just what the doctor ordered” for young Gordon.

On that farm through summers, weekends, and holidays, Gordon grew to health and learned to work. And somehow there, near the soil and close to nature, his confidence in God’s good and provident hand prospered like the hundreds of fruit trees and vegetable seeds he planted, tended, and harvested.

“After a day of good, hard labor, my younger brother Sherm and I would sleep out under the stars in the box of an old farm wagon,” President Hinckley recalls with a wistful look and smile. “On those clear, clean summer nights, we would lie on our backs in that old wagon box and look at the myriads of stars in the heavens. We could identify some of the constellations and other stars as they were illustrated in the encyclopedia which was always available in our family library. We identified some of the more visible patterns in the heavens, but our favorite was the North Star. Each night, like many generations of boys before us, we would trace the Big Dipper, down the handle and out past the cup, to find the North Star.

“We came to know of the constancy of that star,” he recalls. “As the earth turned, the others appeared to move through the night. But the North Star held its position in line with the axis of the earth. Because of those boyhood musings, the polar star came to mean something to me. I recognized it as a constant in the midst of change. It was something that could always be counted on, something that was dependable, an anchor in what otherwise appeared to me a moving and unstable firmament.” President Hinckley’s first paid job was as a newspaper carrier for the Deseret News, a Salt Lake City daily.

The Salt Lake Tribune said his first spiritual experience occurred when he was five:

" It was there where he had his first spiritual experience. He was about 5 years old and suffering from a painful earache.

My mother prepared a bag of table salt and put it on the stove to warm," he said in 2000. "My father softly put his hands upon my head and gave me a blessing, rebuking the pain and the illness by authority of the holy priesthood and in the name of Jesus Christ. He then took me tenderly in his arms and placed the bag of warm salt at my ear. The pain subsided and left.

Cradled in his father's arms, Hinckley drifted off to sleep, his father's words lingering in his mind."

He was told by his Stake Patriarch Thomas E. Callister when he was blessed as an eleven year old that he would have a special gift as a missionary of testifying to the nations:

“I had a patriarchal blessing when I was a little boy, eleven years of age. A convert to the Church [Thomas E. Callister] who had come from England, who was our patriarch, laid his hands upon my head and gave me a blessing. I think I never read that blessing until I was on the boat coming over to England in 1933. I took it out of my trunk and read it carefully, and I read it every now and again while I was on my mission in England. “I don’t want to tell you everything in that blessing, but that man spoke with a prophetic voice. He said, among other things, that I would lift my voice in testimony of the truth in the nations of the earth. When I was released from my mission, I spoke in London in a testimony meeting in the Battersea Town Hall. The next Sunday I spoke in Berlin. The next Sunday I spoke in Paris. The next Sunday I spoke in Washington, D. C. I came home tired and weak and thin and weary, . . . and
I said, ‘I’ve had it. I’ve traveled as far as I want to travel. I never want to travel again.’ And I thought I had fulfilled that blessing. I had spoken in four of the great capitals of the world—London, Berlin, Paris, and Washington, D. C. I thought I had fulfilled that part of that blessing.

I say with gratitude and in a spirit of testimony . . .that it has since been my privilege, out of the providence and goodness of the Lord, to bear testimony of this work and of the divine calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith in all of the lands of Asia—nearly, at least—Japan, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Burma, Malaysia, India, Indonesia, Singapore, what have you. I have testified in Australia, New Zealand, the islands of the Pacific, the nations of Europe, all of the nations of South America, and all of the nations of the Orient in testimony of the divinity of this work" (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [1997], 22–23).

After young Gordon had been ordained a deacon, his father took him—somewhat unwillingly, he recalls—to a stake priesthood meeting. While his father as stake president took his place on the stand, Gordon sat on the back row. During the singing of the opening hymn, “Praise to the Man,” his attitude changed. “As I heard them sing that hymn with power and conviction, there came into my heart a witness of the divine calling of the boy Joseph, and I am grateful that the Lord has sustained that witness through more than seventy years since then” (Ensign, Nov. 1993, p. 51).

Gordon B. Hinckley had begun to mature, but his growing-up years weren’t without normal childhood mischief. One day, he and several of his schoolmates decided to skip a day of class. The boys knew they couldn’t stay home because their mothers would ask questions. They couldn’t go to a movie because they had no money, and they didn’t want to go to the park for fear the school’s truant officer would catch them. After much deliberation it was decided they would just wander around and waste the day.

The following morning, the boys’ principal, Mr. Stearns, met them at the school’s front door. “His demeanor matched his name. He said some pretty straightforward things and then told us that we could not come back to school until we brought a note from our parents,” President Hinckley recalls. “I remember walking sheepishly into the house. My mother asked what was wrong. … I said that I needed a note. She wrote a note. It was very brief. … It read as follows:

“ ‘Dear Mr. Stearns,

“ ‘Please excuse Gordon’s absence yesterday. His action was simply an impulse to follow the crowd.’

“… I have never forgotten my mother’s note. Though I had been an active party to the action we had taken, I resolved then and there that I would never do anything on the basis of simply following the crowd” (Ensign, May 1993, p. 53).

"Gordon graduated from LDS High School in 1928 and enrolled in the University of Utah that fall, just a year before the onset of the Depression" (Dew, Go Forward with Faith, 45). He was considered an exceptional speaker in high school. This ability led him to major in communications at the University of Utah from which he graduated in 1932. After graduating from the University of Utah in 1932, Gordon B. Hinckley intended to enroll at the Columbia University School of Journalism in New York City. A visit to his bishop changed his plans.

"On a Sunday afternoon not long before his twenty-third birthday, Gordon was invited to Bishop Duncan’s home. The bishop got right to the point: Had he thought of serving a mission? He was shocked. In those days of depression, missionary service was the exception rather than the rule. The distressing financial future had made the burden of supporting a missionary virtually impossible for most families; indeed, few missionaries were even being called. Nevertheless, as soon as his bishop raised the subject, he knew what his answer must be: he told Bishop Duncan he would go.

The reality of financing the mission loomed, however. Bryant assured his son they would find a way, and Sherman [Gordon’s younger brother] volunteered to help. Gordon planned to devote the modest savings he had accumulated for graduate school. Unfortunately, not long after he committed to go, the bank where he had established his savings account failed and he lost everything. But some time later the family discovered that for years Ada had nurtured a small savings account with the coins she received in change when buying groceries and had earmarked the fund for her sons’ missionary service. Gordon was overwhelmed with his mother’s years of quiet sacrifice and prescient foresight.Even after her death she continued to support and sustain him. More important was his mother’s example of consecration, and he considered sacred the money he received from her savings” (Dew, Go Forward with Faith, 56).

When I left for a mission some sixty-two years ago, my good father handed me a card on which were written five words. They were the words of the Lord to the ruler of the synagogue who had received news of his daughter’s death: “Be not afraid, only believe” (Mark 5:36). I should like to express a few thoughts on this theme. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Be Not Afraid, Only Believe’,” Ensign, [February 1996]: 2).

In the March 2008 Ensign in In June 1932 he received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of Utah. Undaunted by a national unemployment rate of 30 percent, Gordon planned to earn money for an ambitious goal: study at Columbia University School of Journalism in New York City.

In those days of economic despair, few young men planned on serving missions, and few families could afford the expense. Thus it was with surprise that Gordon heard his bishop ask him if he would consider going on a mission. Gordon accepted the call. Ultimately, Gordon’s mother, Ada, who had died of cancer in 1930, made his mission a financial possibility. The family discovered a savings account she had built up with the change from her groceries, intending to use it someday for her sons’ missions. It enabled Gordon to set out for London in 1933.

A pivotal spiritual experience soon followed. President Hinckley would refer to it again and again as “my day of decision. … Everything good that has happened to me since then I can trace back to [it].” Discouraged over preaching to uninterested audiences and knocking on unopened doors, Gordon wrote his father: “I am wasting my time and your money. I don’t see any point in my staying here.”

Bryant Hinckley, ever the educator and wise disciplinarian, replied: “Dear Gordon. I have your letter....I have only one suggestion. Forget yourself and go to work. With love, Your Father.” Letter in hand, Gordon returned to his apartment contemplating the verse he had studied in scripture study that morning: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:35). “I got on my knees,” he recalled, “and made a covenant with the Lord that I would try to forget myself and go to work.”10

In 1934 he was called to serve as an assistant to Elder Joseph F. Merrill of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and president of the European Mission. Gordon wrote articles that were printed in the Church publication Millennial Star and, even more important for missionary work, in the London Monthly Pictorial magazine. President Merrill’s confidence in the young missionary ran so high that he sent Elder Hinckley to converse with the head of a large publishing company responsible for a book containing falsehoods about the Church. The meeting resulted in the company’s including a disclaimer in the book from that point on.

Jeffrey R. Holland said of his decision to go on a mission: "Even though it was the time of the Great Depression and relatively few young men were serving missions, Bishop John C. Duncan approached him and urged him to consider a mission. President Hinckley discussed it with his father, his beloved mother having just passed away three years earlier from cancer. It was a hard time for the family, financially and every other way.

“Nevertheless I remember my father saying, ‘We will do all we can to see that your needs are met,’ ” President Hinckley recalls poignantly, “and he and my brother committed to see me through my mission. It was at that time that we discovered a little savings account my mother had left—change saved from her grocery purchases and other shopping. With that little bit of help added, it appeared I could go on my mission.”

He left shortly thereafter for England, considering sacred those coins so meticulously saved by his mother. “I guarded them with my honor,” he says on the edge of emotion. That respect for money sacrificed for and saved, and his memory of such an era of deprivation, affect to this day his detailed, watchful oversight of the Church’s financial expenditures. It is not insignificant that the principal appointment on his office credenza is a framed, minute, ancient coin—a lepton. Half a farthing. The “widow’s mite” mentioned in Luke 21:1–4."

He received his mission call to the European Mission, with headquarters in London, England. Elder Hinckley was only one of 525 missionaries called by the church that year. Elder Hinckley traveled to England on a ship that docked at Plymouth the night of 1 July 1933.

He remembers his first few days on mission:

He began his labors in Preston, a town of spires and green hedges in cloudy northern England. Converts were few in Britain when he began knocking on doors and preaching at night in Preston's lonely market square.

"I was terrified," he said, speaking of his first street meeting. "I stepped up on that little stand and looked at that crowd of people that had gathered. They were dreadfully poor at that time in the bottom of the Depression. They looked rather menacing and mean, but I somehow stumbled through whatever I had to say." (Shaun D. Stahle, "Going forward with the faith of his fathers," LDS Church News, [Saturday, February 2, 2008]: 13).

Elder Hinckley first was assigned to Preston, Lancashire, England, and followed in Elder Heber C. Kimball's footsteps by preaching in many street meetings there.

As with many missionaries, he had his discouraging moments. His allergies bothered him from all of the June grasses that were pollinating at the time he arrived. Tears from hay fever were constant, and his energy and stamina were at an all-time low. Later he recalled: “I was not well when I arrived. Those first few weeks, because of illness and the opposition which we felt, I was discouraged. I wrote a letter home to my good father and said that I felt I was wasting my time and his money. He was my father and my stake president, and he was a wise and inspired man. He wrote a very short letter to me which said, ‘Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter. I have only one suggestion: forget yourself “Those words of the Master, followed by my father’s letter with his counsel to forget myself and go to work, went into my very being.

Eleanor Porter, resident of the home where he lived as missionary Photo by Gerry Avant

"I am one of those missionaries who followed them. My sacrifice was not as great. I fear my faith was not as strong. Certainly my journey was not as tedious as was theirs. I traveled by train in 1933 from Salt Lake City to New York, and then took ship from New York to Plymouth, England. There were three of us in our group. Two stayed in London, and somehow, in the providence of the Lord, I, like Heber C. Kimball and his associates ninety-six years earlier, was sent to Preston."

"The boat (SS Manhattan) on which I traveled to England docked at Plymouth the night of July 1, 1933. The three of us missionaries aboard took the boat train to London, arriving late at night. The next day I was assigned to go to Preston, Lancashire. After what seemed like a long, lonely train ride, I met my companion at the station, and he took me to our “digs,” a short distance from Vauxhall Chapel where the first LDS missionary sermon had been preached in 1837.

"My companion then announced that we would go into town and hold a street meeting. I was terrified. We sang a hymn and offered prayer. Then he called on me to speak. A crowd gathered. They looked menacing to me. The world was then in the bottom of the Depression, and Lancashire had been particularly hard-hit. The people were poor. They wore wooden clogs on their feet. Their dress reflected the hard times in which they lived. They were difficult to understand; I was a westerner from the United States, and they spoke with a Lancashire dialect."

"That was my first assignment and my first field of labor. I became as familiar with the places they knew and the streets they walked as they had been nearly a century earlier. My companion and I walked up and down the same road where they had seen that banner, “Truth Will Prevail.”

In the evening of the first day that I arrived in Preston, my companion, who was the district president, said we would go down to the marketplace and hold a street meeting. There, in the shadow of the obelisk, which was familiar to Heber C. Kimball and his associates, Elder Bramwell and I raised our voices in a hymn, offered prayer, and preached the same gospel to a gathering crowd as those first missionaries had preached.

The location of the house on Wilfred Street, where they stayed and had a terrible experience with evil spirits, was familiar to me. Years later, I took President Spencer W. Kimball there so that he might see where his grandfather had that terrifying experience.

Each missionary day as my companion and I walked along Manchester Road to and from our “digs,” we passed Vauxhall Chapel again and again, as did those first missionaries when they preached within its walls the day after they arrived in Preston. I was there some years later when a bulldozer was knocking the old building down to make way for a housing project. I picked up a brick from that chapel, which I still have.

The River Ribble with its old tram bridge, where the first baptisms were performed while hundreds of people looked on, was familiar to me.

I feel especially fortunate to have been sent to Preston as my initial assignment. Not only did I labor there, but I labored in the surrounding towns where those first missionaries taught the gospel. I was not as effective as were they. When they first arrived, there evidently was little or no prejudice against them. When I arrived, it seemed that everyone was prejudiced against us."

On Sunday, June 24th 2007 at the mission presidents' seminar in Provo, Utah President Gordon B. Hinckley remembered his mission with a few new details. Shaun D. Stahle recored them in the Church News: "I have been around a long time. I have seen and experienced much. The wonderful thing is that all that is good that has happened to me has resulted from my service as a missionary."

Recounting events that led to serving a mission, he described his life as a young man during the Great Depression, how it affected countries across the earth, and how unemployment in the state of Utah reached about 35 percent. "Those who had employment worked for reduced incomes," he said.

President Hinckley had earned a bachelor's degree in 1932 and had a little job, "scrupulously" saving money with the hope of going to graduate school. "Then something happened to change my plans," he said. "I received a call to serve as a missionary in the British Isles. Very few missionaries were called at the time because they could not afford to go. The British Mission was then the most expensive in the world at $45 per month."

About this time of the year, 74 years ago, he boarded the train for New York. Not able to afford a Pullman, he and his companions sat up in the coach all the way to New York, where they boarded a ship. After six days of travel, they landed late that night at Cork, Ireland, where a street singer on the dock sang, "Danny Boy." His voice rang through the fog. "It has become one of my favorites," he said.

They continued to Plymouth where they disembarked and took the boat train into London. "No one met us," he said. "We found a hotel and went to bed for the night.

"The next day we somehow found our way to the mission office at 43 Tavistock Square. Here we met the mission president," he said.

His companions were assigned to stay in London, while he was assigned to go to Preston. "I confess," President Hinckley said, "that I was a bit homesick as I made that lonely journey."

Arriving in Preston, he was met by the missionary district president, Elder Kent S. Bramwell. They went to their "digs" at 15 Wadham Road. "My companion said that after supper we would hold a street meeting. I was terrified.

"We took our little stand down to the marketplace and set it up. We sang a hymn. My companion then introduced me, saying that I would pray and be the first speaker. What an experience that was, as I looked into the faces of the rough crowd that had gathered around me."

For five months, President Hinckley labored in Lancashire, walking in the footsteps of earlier great missionaries like Heber C. Kimball and his associates, who, in 1837, carried the gospel to the British Isles, "first laboring in this identical area."

"Vauxhall Chapel, the Cockpit, and Temperance Hall were still standing at the time," he said. "They had many converts in those days, who, when converted, desired to come to Zion. For the most part, they were men and women of faith and testimony.

"I was not well when I arrived in Preston," he continued. "I had terrible hay fever. I could not understand the Lancashire brogue which the people spoke. I was somewhat discouraged.... I wrote to my father and said, 'I am not doing any good here. I think I had better come home and save your money.'

"He replied, 'Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter. I have only one suggestion — forget yourself and go to work.'

"The morning his letter came I read in the New Testament, 'For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it" (Mark 8:35).

"I went upstairs in the bedroom, got on my knees, and told the Lord that I would try to forget myself and go to work.

"That was the major decision of my life," he continued. "I went to work. Everything changed. The grass covered hills of Lancashire became beautiful to me. I learned to love the people."

Elder Hinckley was transferred after five months to London to work in the European Mission office under the direction of Elder Joseph F. Merrill of the Council of the Twelve and president of the European Mission.

"London became my favorite city in all the world," he said. "I loved it. I enjoyed the work. Each Sunday morning we would take the bus to Hyde Park and set up our little stand and there speak. Later in the day we would do the same at Regents Park. I even learned to enjoy the hecklers who tried to make life miserable for us."

At the conclusion of his mission, President Hinckley made an appointment with the First Presidency to give a report of the European Mission as requested by mission president, Elder Merrill.

"President (Heber J.) Grant said they would give 15 minutes. I started talking. They asked questions. I was there for more than an hour. Incidentally," continued President Hinckley, "President Grant's journal makes reference to this occasion.

"Two days later, President (David O.) McKay called me and said they wished to employ me. I discovered that my salary would be $65 a month. With that, I had to furnish my own desk and typewriter," he said.

He was also asked to teach seminary for $35 a month. "A committee of six members of the Council of the Twelve, with Stephen L. Richards as chairman, were my supervisors," he said. "Brother Widtsoe referred to me as 'the slave,"' he said.

At one point, President Hinckley asked for a ream of paper. The office manager "asked me if I knew how many sheets were in a ream. I told him 500. He grudgingly gave me the paper."

"Well, you know the remainder of the story from there," he said, noting how he served on the Sunday School general board and as counselor, and then president, of his stake.

He was subsequently called as an Assistant to the Twelve, then the Council of the Twelve, as it was known in those days, until called in 1981 by President Spencer W. Kimball to serve as counselor in the First Presidency.

Returning his thoughts to his mission, he said, "I point to my mission as the great directing influence of my entire life. My marriage,... my service in the Church, my activity in a number of business affairs, all have become rich and wonderful blessings.... I feel that no one has had greater opportunities than I have had. They have all been blessings from the Lord; they have all stemmed from the decision I made when I got on my knees in the bedroom of 15 Wadham Road in Preston, Lancashire, and pledged to the Lord that I would forget myself and go to work. ("Great progress in missionary work:President Hinckley lauds effort, announces 1 millionth missionary," Church News [Saturday, 30 June 2007]: 4).

With my father’s letter in hand, I went into our bedroom in the house at 15 Wadham Road, where we lived, and got on my knees and made a pledge with the Lord. I covenanted that I would try to forget myself and lose myself in His service.

Jeffrey R. Holland spoke about his arrival in the mission field: "Sent first to Preston in Lancashire (where Heber C. Kimball and others had pioneered the first transatlantic mission nearly 100 years before), Elder Hinckley found some of that discouragement common to missionaries facing new circumstances in a new land. He was not well physically, and as he went to his first street meeting in that impoverished mill town in the north of England, he recalls: “I was terrified. I stepped up on that little stand and looked at that crowd of people that had gathered. They were dreadfully poor at that time in the bottom of the Depression. They looked rather menacing and mean, but I somehow stumbled through whatever I had to say.”

Down in spirit and facing no success in missionary endeavors, Gordon wrote a letter to his father, saying: “I am wasting my time and your money. I don’t see any point in my staying here.” In due course a gentle but terse reply came from his father. That letter read: “Dear Gordon. I have your letter [of such and such a date]. I have only one suggestion. Forget yourself and go to work. With love, Your Father.”

President Hinckley says of that moment, “I pondered his response, and then the next morning in our scripture class we read that great statement of the Lord: ‘For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it’ (Mark 8:35).

“That simple statement, that promise, touched me. I got on my knees and made a covenant with the Lord that I would try to forget myself and go to work. I count that as the day of decision in my life. Everything good that has happened to me since then I can trace back to the decision I made at that time.”

Later in his mission, he was called to serve in the mission office as an assistant to President Joseph F. Merrill, who was also a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. He recounts that "After five months in Lancashire, I was transferred to the European Mission office in London, where I worked as an assistant to Elder Joseph F. Merrill of the Council of the Twelve, who presided over the missions of Europe. London was a great and interesting and challenging city. Each Sunday, weather permitting, the two of us in the European office would join missionaries from the British Mission office in holding street meetings in Hyde Park and other public areas. In addition to our office duties, we also tracted. We likewise taught in the branches, which were then small and weak.

Missionaries then in Britain were few. It was a time of severe economic difficulties across the world, and money was scarce. Reflectively few went on missions. At one time there were only sixty-five of us in all of the British Isles."

"No sooner had young Elder Hinckley thrown himself into the work in Lancashire than he received a letter calling him to London as a special assistant to Elder Joseph F. Merrill, a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles and president of the European Mission.

“We didn’t baptize many people in London in those days,” recalls mission companion Wendell J. Ashton, “but Elder Hinckley was a knockout in those street meetings on Hyde Park corner. I can promise you we learned to speak quickly on our feet. And Elder Hinckley was the best of the bunch. I have always thought that he gained tremendous firsthand experience there in London’s Hyde Park doing what he would so skillfully do for the rest of his life—defend the Church and speak up courageously of its truths. He was good at it then and he is good at it now."

Gordon B. Hinckley said of his overcoming discouragement: "That July day in 1933 was my day of decision. A new light came into my life and a new joy into my heart. The fog of England seemed to lift, and I saw the sunlight. I had a rich and wonderful mission experience, for which I shall ever be grateful, laboring in Preston where the work began and in other places where it had moved forward, including the great city of London, where I served the larger part of my mission” (“Taking the Gospel to Britain: A Declaration of Vision, Faith, Courage, and Truth,” Ensign, July 1987, 7).
Garry Avant in the Church News recorded Gordon B. Hinckley's experiences at the 15 Wadham Road area: " During the 35 years that I've worked at Church News, I've traveled to many events with President and Sister Hinckley. In the days before he had a private jet at his disposal, we often were on the same plane, rode in the same vehicles, and ate at the same tables. I'm hard pressed to relate just one story of my travels and associations with President and Sister Hinckley.

One experience that I remember with fondness is a visit to Preston, Lancashire, England.

In July 1987 President Hinckley went to England for events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the beginning of missionary work in the British Isles. One of the events was the dedication of a marker in Avenham Park along the bank of the River Ribble at Preston.

President Hinckley reveled in returning to Preston, where he had served as a missionary 54 years earlier. He spoke of his walks along the River Ribble, where the first baptisms in the British Isles took place on July 30, 1837. I was an eye witness to President Hinckley's sentimental journey back to his mission field as I rode with him and Sister Hinckley around Preston and from Preston to Birmingham for a meeting with members of the Church.

Peter Treblecock, who was then bishop of the Preston Ward, had arranged for President and Sister Hinckley to be driven to some sites of interest to the history of the Church in Preston. Bishop Treblecock sat in the passenger seat in front; President and Sister Hinckley and I were in the back seat. As we started out, President Hinckley told Bishop Treblecock that there was a particular place he'd like to visit, of which the bishop was probably unaware. President Hinckley then gave directions to the driver, telling him what street to take and where to turn.

We ended up at 15 Wadham Road, a tidy home of red brick, white stucco and sparkling windows. Bishop Treblecock seemed puzzled; this address wasn't on any list of sites of Church significance. "I lived here when I was a missionary," President Hinckley said.

I felt a twinge of photographer's excitement: "A great photo opportunity!" I surmised. I asked if President Hinckley and Sister Hinckley would pose for a photo in front of the house. He said they'd be happy to do so.

As we were preparing to take the photo, the resident of the home, Eleanor Porter, came outside to greet us, obviously curious about her unannounced visitors. President Hinckley introduced himself and said he had lived in the house as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He told her when he had served in Preston and said that he had many memories of Preston, and of this house in particular. He asked if he could go inside. Mrs. Porter invited President and Sister Hinckley in. The bishop, the driver and I waited outside.

When President and Sister Hinckley came out, he was misty eyed. He spent a few more minutes with Mrs. Porter, thanking her for her hospitality and telling her how much the visit to her home had meant to him.

Back in the car, President Hinckley took a deep breath, let out a long sigh and began talking. He was quite emotional. He explained that once inside, he had asked Mrs. Porter if he and Sister Hinckley could go upstairs to the bedroom he had occupied. "I had to go upstairs to that room," he said, his voice trembling and his eyes misting. "That is where I experienced a day of decision."

He explained that he had become discouraged as a young missionary because he had arrived in Preston in poor health and no one seemed interested in hearing his message. "I wrote a letter home to my father and told him I felt I was wasting my time and his money. My father wrote back a very short letter: 'Dear Gordon, I have your letter. I have only one suggestion: Forget yourself and go to work.'

"I went upstairs to that bedroom and got on my knees, and said to the Lord, 'I will try to forget myself and go to work. I will try to lose my life in Thy service, but I need help.' That was my day of decision."

President Hinckley told us that marvelous things had happened to him since then, and that he had traveled throughout the world on the Lord's errand. "And it all started here in Preston," he said.

I had never heard that account, but in coming years I heard him speak of it many times and it has become a classic pertaining to missionary work. Each time I hear it repeated, I remember that July day in 1987 when I sat in the back seat of a car in Preston, England, with President and Sister Hinckley and heard him tell of that turning point in his life." (Church News, [Saturday, February 2, 2008]: 18).

Gordon B. Hinckley and Armand S. Coulam, British Mission, 1933

On his mission he was famous for his oratory style. He liked to hold street meetings and preach the principles of the Gospel. From Peggy Fletcher Stack at the Salt Lake Tribune we learn about his mission:

"Hinckley's two-year mission to England at the height of the Great Depression was an education in itself. He learned how to deflect antagonistic questions and discovered what would become his life's work--using the printed word, and later the airwaves, to promote the faith.

In 1933, few Britons were joining the American church, and many heaped insults and ridicule on its young representatives. Mormon missionaries would preach from portable podiums in London's Hyde Park while onlookers challenged them to verbal duels.

"We learned to speak quickly on our feet. And Elder Hinckley was the best of the bunch," the late Wendell Ashton, one of Hinckley's missionary companions, told LDS Apostle Jeffrey Holland.

The missionaries had no set oral presentation or prepared materials to distribute other than a few pamphlets and the faith's scripture, The Book of Mormon.

"Our conversion rate was terrible," said Ashton, former publisher of the church-owned Deseret Morning News. "We would just knock on doors and try to teach people, and it wasn't a good method."

President Hinckley said about his love for the Book of Mormon as a missionary "As a missionary, I read each evening before going to bed a few chapters of the Book of Mormon, and there came into my heart a conviction which has never left: that this is the word of God, restored to the earth by the power of the Almighty, translated by the gift and power of God to the convincing of the Jew and the Gentile that Jesus is the Christ. I thank the Lord for the testimony which I have of the truth of the word of God as found in these sacred revealed books. And I hope that every missionary would leave his or her field of labor with a conviction in his or her heart that these things are true."

President Hinckley in the 2006 Liahona said: "I remember the occasion more than 70 years ago when, as a missionary, I was speaking in an open-air meeting in Hyde Park, London. As I was presenting my message, a heckler interrupted to say, “Why don’t you stay with the doctrine of the Bible which says in John, ‘God is a Spirit’?”

I opened my Bible to the verse he had quoted and read to him the entire verse:

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

I said, “Of course God is a spirit, and so are you in the combination of spirit and body that makes of you a living being, and so am I.”

Each of us is a dual being of spiritual entity and physical entity. All know of the reality of death when the body dies, and each of us also knows that the spirit lives on as an individual entity and that at some time, under the divine plan made possible by the sacrifice of the Son of God, there will be a reunion of spirit and body. Jesus’s declaration that God is a spirit no more denies that He has a body than does the statement that I am a spirit while also having a body."

Shaun D. Stahle wrote in the Church News about what Gordon B. Hinckley preached: "While preaching to shifting, critical crowds from atop a wooden stand he would cement his testimony.

"Either Joseph talked with the Father and Son or he did not," he would say. "If he did not, we are engaged in a blasphemy. If he did, we have a duty from which none of us can shrink — to declare to the world the living reality of the God of the universe." ("Going forward with the faith of his fathers," LDS Church News, [Saturday, February 2, 2008]: 13).

The Deseret News wrote of his entertaining oratory style:

"The late G. Homer Durham, a high school classmate and later a missionary companion and general authority, once described how humor fit into President Hinckley's overall character: 'His judgment stands up in every situation. His insight into human character and situations is rich and meaningful. He knows when silence is better than utterance. He has a sense of humor that endears him to all.'

President Hinckley is a master orator," the late Wendell J. Ashton, former missionary companion, Deseret News publisher and a longtime friend, once said. "I'll never forget Lord Thompson of Fleet saying privately to his son a few years ago: 'This Hinckley is a great speaker. He knows how to move people."'

He also devoted some preparation days during his mission to England to visiting historical sites and attending cultural events.

He was the author of one hymn in the current LDS hymnal — No. 135, "My Redeemer Lives" — with music by Elder G. Homer Durham, another former mission companion and former member of the Seventy. And even more recently, when people met President Hinckley, they commented on his facility with the language, as it gave expression to the breadth and grasp of his intellect."

Gordon felt the presence of his dead mother while serving: "I experienced times of discouragement on my mission, as does every missionary. On an occasion or two, when the clouds were particularly dark. I felt in a very real but indescribable way the protecting, guiding, encouraging influence of my mother. She seemed very close. I tried then, as I have tried since, to so conduct my life and perform my duty as to bring honor to her name." (Gordon B. Hinckley, One Bright Shining Hope, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2006, p. 20).

In 1986 he recalled his mother's foresight in saving for his mission: "[At the time I entered the mission field] it was the time of the worst economic depression in the history of the world. Unemployment in this area [Salt Lake City] was about 35 percent, and most of the unemployed were husbands and fathers. . . . Very few missionaries were going into the field at the time. We send out as many in a week now as then went during the entire year. I received my bachelor’s degree and planned on somehow attending graduate school. Then the bishop came with what seemed to me a shocking suggestion. He spoke of a mission. I was called to go to England which, at the time, was the most expensive mission in the world. The cost per month was the equivalent of what would be about $500 now.

We discovered that my mother, who had passed away, had established a small savings account to be available for this purpose. I had a savings account in a different place, but the bank in which I had mine had failed. There was then no government insurance program to cover its failure as there is now. My father, a man of great faith and love, supplied the necessary means, with all of the family cooperating at a sacrifice. As I look back upon it, I see all of it as a miracle. Somehow the money was there every month.

The work in the field was not easy. It was difficult and discouraging. But what a wonderful experience it was. In retrospect, I recognize that I was probably a selfish young man when I arrived in Britain. What a blessing it became to set aside my own selfish interests to the greater interests of the work of the Lord. I had the association of tremendous young men and women. They have become treasured friends whom I have known and loved for more than half a century."

The March 2008 Ensign reported: In 1934 he was called to serve as an assistant to Elder Joseph F. Merrill of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and president of the European Mission. Gordon wrote articles that were printed in the Church publication Millennial Star and, even more important for missionary work, in the London Monthly Pictorial magazine. President Merrill’s confidence in the young missionary ran so high that he sent Elder Hinckley to converse with the head of a large publishing company responsible for a book containing falsehoods about the Church. The meeting resulted in the company’s including a disclaimer in the book from that point on.

When he was made assistant to the mission president he was given an assignment by Elder Joseph F. Merrill, one of the Twelve Apostle:

While a missionary, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley was assigned to serve as an assistant to Elder Jospeh F. Merrill, who presided over the European missions. One day Elder Merrill gave the young elder a tough assignment.

Elder Merrill: These newspapers have all printed reviews of a very unflattering book about the Church. I want you to go to the publisher and protest the publication of the book.

Elder Hinckley agreed to go, but he wondered if he was the right man for the job.

Elder Hinckley: Why are you sending me? I’m just a boy, and you are a distinguished man. Why don’t you go yourself?

Feeling a little frightened, he went to his room and prayed for strength. Then he set out.

Elder Hinckley: I wonder if this is how Moses felt when the Lord told him to go and see Pharaoh?

At the publishing house, Elder Hinckley received a cold welcome, but he was not discouraged.

Receptionist: Mr. Skeffington is too busy to see you.

Elder Hinckley: I have come five thousand miles, and I will be happy to wait.

When he was allowed to see Mr. Skeffington an hour later, Elder Hinckley did not complain loudly. Instead, he calmly pointed out the book’s errors and appealed to the publisher’s sense of fairness.

Elder Hinckley: I am sure that a high-principled man such as yourself would not wish to do injury to a people who have already suffered so much for their religion.

Mr. Skeffington: I will recall every copy of that book from the bookstores and add a statement that the Mormons have a respected and courageous history and that the book is fiction with no basis in fact.

Elder Merrill had sent the right man. Elder Hinckley later recalled, “I came to know that if we put our faith in the Lord and go forward in trust, He will open the way.”

President Hinckley recalls the incident later in greater detail: "Years ago I was on a mission in England. I had been called to labor in the European mission office in London under President Joseph F. Merrill of the Council of the Twelve, then president of the European Mission. One day three or four of the London papers carried reviews of a reprint of an old book, snide and ugly in tone, indicating that
the book was a history of the Mormons. President Merrill said to me, ‘I want you to go down to the publisher and protest this.’ I looked at him and was about to say, ‘Surely not me.’ But I meekly said, ‘Yes, sir.’

I do not hesitate to say that I was frightened. I went to my room and felt something as I think Moses must have felt when the Lord asked him to go and see Pharaoh. I offered a prayer. My stomach was churning as I walked over to the Goodge Street station to get the underground train to Fleet Street. I found the office of the president and presented my card to the receptionist. She took it and went into the inner office and soon returned to say that the president was too busy to see me. I replied that I had come five thousand miles and that I would wait.

During the next hour she made two or three trips to his office; then finally he invited me in. I shall never forget the picture when I entered. He was smoking a long cigar with a look that seemed to say, ‘Don’t bother me.’

I held in my hand the reviews. I do not recall what I said after that. Another power seemed to be speaking through me. At first he was defensive and even belligerent. Then he began to soften. He concluded by promising to do something. Within an hour word went out to every book dealer in England to return the books to the publisher. At great expense he printed and tipped in the front of each volume a statement to the effect that the book was not to be considered as history, but only as fiction, and that no offense was intended against the respected Mormon people. Years later he granted another favor of substantial worth to the Church, and each year until the time of his death I received a Christmas card from him.

I came to know that when we try in faith to walk in obedience to the requests of the priesthood, the Lord opens the way, even when there appears to be no way. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “If Ye Be Willing and Obedient,” Ensign, [July 1995]: 4–5).

In a 1969 BYU devotional address President Hinckley spoke about the loneliness one his converts experienced in the British Isles:

"I have been thinking this morning of a friend of mine whom I knew when I was on a mission in London thirty-six years ago. I remember his coming to our apartment through the rain of the night. He knocked at the door, and I invited him in.

He said, “I’ve got to talk with someone. I’m all alone. I’m undone.”

And I said, “What’s your problem?”

And he said, “When I joined the Church a little less than a year ago, my father told me to get out of his home and never come back. And I’ve never been back.”

He continued, “A few months later the cricket club of which I was a member read me off its list, barring me from membership with the boys with whom I had grown up and with whom I had been so close and friendly.”

Then he said, “Last month my boss fired me because I was a member of this church, and I have been unable to get another job and I have had to go on the dole.

“And last night the girl with whom I have gone for a year and a half said she would never marry me because I’m a Mormon.”

I said, “If this has cost you so much, why don’t you leave the Church and go back to your father’s home and to your cricket club and to the job that meant so much to you and to the girl you think you love?”

He said nothing for what seemed to be a long time. Then, putting his head down in his hands, he sobbed and sobbed. Finally, he looked up through his tears and said, “I couldn’t do that. I know this is true, and if it were to cost me my life, I could never give it up.”

He picked up his wet cap and walked to the door and out into the rain, alone and trembling and fearful, but resolute. As I watched him, I thought of the loneliness of conscience, the loneliness of testimony, the loneliness of faith, and the strength and comfort of the Spirit of God."

In 2007 Gordon B. Hinckley summarized his feelings for the British people who he labor among: "I love the English people. No one can sell the English short in my mind because I labored with them, I lived with them, I was in their homes at their firesides, I learned to know their hearts, and I learned to love them."

President Hinckley remembers one member he worked with: " Fifty-two years ago, I baptized a promising and wonderful young man. He was gifted and educated. He was sincere and prayerful. My companion and I taught him over a long period of time. We both left to return home after he had been baptized.

Our convert was a shy and sensitive young man. While still in the infancy of his membership, he was criticized for a small mistake that he had made in the responsibility he carried in the branch. His critic had a salty and a short temper.
When the young man left the meeting that night, he never returned. He had been hurt and wounded by the thoughtless, cutting remark of a man his senior who should have known better.

I tried to keep track of this new convert through correspondence. But World War II came along. He entered the military service. After the war he married, and a while later his wife passed away, bringing a greater tragedy into his life. He rose in his vocation to become an executive of recognized capacity. He might have made a tremendous contribution to the Church, but an ugly scar remained from that wound suffered in a branch meeting many years earlier.

My companion, with whom I taught this good man, has passed away. I have done everything I know how to do to try to revive our friend's faith. Thus far, it has been fruitless.

I occasionally reflect on the remarkable way in which we found him. I reflect on the many hours we spent teaching him, I reflect on the struggle he had within himself to make the right decision to be baptized. I reflect on his joy in having found the Church. And then I reflect on his loss. It need never have happened. It should never have happened: ("There Must be Messengers," Ensign, [October 1987]: 4-5).

He and Elder G. Homer Durham, who later served in the First Quorum of the Seventy, served in the office together; they and another missionary took a short trip through Europe on their way home from their missions in June 1935.

One of his mission companion was Wendell J. Ashton, publisher of the Deseret News from 1978 through 1985.

Elder Joseph F. Merrill, European Mission President according to Wikipedia passed some of his financial skills on to his office staff which included Gordon B. Hinckley: "When he left in 1933 to serve as president of the European Mission of the church, Merrill passed his fiscal philosophies on to the missionaries serving under him. He succeeded John A. Widtsoe in this office. One of them, future church president Gordon B. Hinckley, cited Merrill’s influence as a major factor in his financial thinking. J. Wyley Sessions called Merrill the “most economical, conservative General Authority of this dispensation.”

President Hinckley related what he did on his return home from his mission: "Yours is not an easy task. I had a taste of it at one time. Pardon me if I give you a little personal history.

I was called on a mission to the British Isles in 1933. I had completed my baccalaureate work at the University of Utah. I was older than most missionaries are today.

Very few were going out at the time. The terrible Depression gripped the entire world. Money was extremely scarce. There were only sixty-five of us in all of the British Isles, where today there are perhaps twelve hundred.

The two years I spent in England were very productive in terms of my development. Most of that time was spent in London as assistant to the president of the European Mission. He was a member of the Council of the Twelve. When I was released to come home, he asked that I meet with the First Presidency to tell them of some of the needs of the missions in Europe. He had written to pave the way.

Elder John A. Widtsoe had previously served as president of the European Mission and at the time was Church Commissioner of Education. He invited me to try something. He asked that I go down to South High School in Salt Lake City and teach seminary after school five days a week, for which I would be paid $35 a month.

I met with the First Presidency, and they invited me to begin the public relations work in the Church under the direction of a committee of six of the Council of the Twelve. For this work I would receive $65 a month, making $100 a month total between the two jobs. You are not so poorly paid after all.

I count it one of the great accomplishments of my life that I was able to pull through a full class of students who came over to our building each afternoon after school. They stayed with me through the school year. It was a taxing, challenging, and wonderful responsibility. I worked at it. I prayed about it. I gave it my very best, and I felt it was extremely rewarding.

When that year was completed, the CES people importuned me to teach full-time seminary. The committee of the Twelve, likewise, who had a little more authority, asked that I now give my full time to the work. I had to make a choice. I chose to go with the Apostles."

Following his mission at the age of 24
"Hinckley returned to the United States in 1935 after having completed a short tour of the European continent, including preaching in both Berlin and Paris. He was given an assignment by his mission president, Joseph F. Merrill, to meet with the First Presidency of the church and request that better materials be made available to missionaries for proselytizing purposes. As a result of this meeting, Hinckley received employment as executive secretary of the Radio, Publicity and Missionary Literature Committee of the church (he had received schooling as a journalist in college). Hinckley's responsibilities included developing the church's fledgling radio broadcasts and making use of the era's new communication technologies."

Boyd K. Packer in the March 2008 Ensign in an article entitled "This Gentle Giant" describes Gordon B. Hinckley's first days on the job: "Gordon B. Hinckley first arrived at Church headquarters on his way home from his mission in England. He had been asked by the mission president to report to the First Presidency: Presidents Heber J. Grant, J. Reuben Clark Jr., and David O. McKay. The 15-minute meeting lasted over an hour. He was asked to serve as secretary to the new Church mission literature committee.

He was on his own to rustle around to find an empty office somewhere. A friend, whose father owned an office supply store, gave him an old, warped table. He put a block of wood under one short leg. He brought his own typewriter from home.

He went to the supply room for a ream of paper and was asked, “Do you have any idea how many sheets of paper are in a ream?”

He replied, “Yes, 500 sheets.”

“What in the world are you going to do with 500 sheets of paper?”

He answered, “I am going to write on them one sheet at a time.”

He never stopped writing. For years I have had a weekly meeting with President Hinckley. Often I found him at his desk writing out his talks in longhand."

Peggy Fletcher Stack adds about his new job: "At the end of his mission, Hinckley complained about the lack of aids to his mission president, who ordered him to report immediately back to LDS Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, rather than tour the Holy Land as he had planned. When Hinckley had given his report, LDS President Heber J. Grant hired him on the spot.

R. Scott Lloyd in the Church News wrote about his accomplishments in his job: " In 1933, young Gordon Hinckley had already earned a degree from the University of Utah with an eye toward pursuing graduate studies at the prestigious Columbia School of Journalism in New York City. During his mission, he wrote essays for the Church periodical in England, the Millennial Star, and in February 1935, his article, "The Early History of the Latter-day Saints," appeared in the London Pictorial Magazine. Frustrated with a lack of materials available for missionaries to use in their proselytizing, his mission president, Elder Joseph F. Merrill of the Quorum of the Twelve, directed him to prepare several filmstrips incorporating the existing technology — black-and-white transparencies-—for missionaries to use as teaching aids.

It foreshadowed things to come.

Church employment diverted him from plans to pursue a graduate degree in journalism after his mission. As executive secretary to the committee, he produced filmstrips, which, because they were such a novelty at the time, got missionaries into the homes of contacts. "Do you know the romance of a celluloid strip and a beam of light?" he asked in the lead of his May 2, 1936, Church News article extolling the virtue of this medium for teaching the gospel, then so new that the slides had to be hand tinted for color.

Later would come his involvement with the "Fullness of Times" radio series, 39 half-hour programs mostly written by Gordon Hinckley and produced in Hollywood for airing on up to 500 radio stations with no cost to the Church. For the 1939 World's Fair on San Francisco's Treasure Island, he facilitated the construction of a Church exhibit, a model of the Salt Lake Tabernacle in which organ recitals were presented while a slide presentation highlighted Temple Square, Church history and gospel principles.

It was while working for the committee in 1947 that Gordon B. Hinckley wrote the concise book on Church history that is still published today under the title Truth Restored. For many years it has been used by missionaries and other students and teachers." ("Out of obscurity—-Church now widely known: Lifetime of work with media helped raise Church's profile," LDS Church News, [Saturday, February 2, 2008]: 5).

At 24, Hinckley took over the newly created Church Radio, Publicity and Mission Literature Committee and would spend much of the next five decades thinking of new ways to get the church and its message into the American consciousness. The Church Radio, Publicity, and Mission Literature Committee, has evolved into the Church’s Public Communications Office.

He wrote and edited scripts and supervised production for a radio series, "Fullness of Times," which featured 39 half-hour dramatizations of church history. He persuaded Mormon leaders to sponsor an exhibit at the 1938 World's Fair in San Francisco, including a scale model of the famed Mormon Tabernacle on Temple Square and daily organ recitals. He produced a similar exhibit for the centennial of the 1849 discovery of gold in California, with a replica of a cabin occupied by members of the Mormon Battalion.

Told in heroic detail, the Mormon story was repeated over and over as a way to attract potential converts - or at least to correct what Hinckley saw as public misconceptions of LDS teachings."

Jeffrey R. Holland said of his accepting a job in public relations for the Church:

"Soon enough young Elder Hinckley was back in Salt Lake City, weary, underweight, and (with grand irony in light of what lay ahead in his life) with a desire “never to travel anywhere again.” To keep an appointment with the First Presidency prearranged by his mission president regarding special challenges in the European Mission, he went to the Church Administration Building to meet President Heber J. Grant and his two counselors, J. Reuben Clark Jr. and David O. McKay. “President Grant told me they had allowed fifteen minutes for me on their agenda. I began to speak and they began to ask questions, and I left the room one hour and fifteen minutes later. Several days later President McKay called me and asked that I come to work as the secretary of the newly organized Radio, Publicity, and Mission Literature Committee of the Church.

That began, save for a brief two-year interlude during the second world war, a 60-year career of staff assignments and General Authority callings at the headquarters of the Church. “President Hinckley’s unusually rich experience in Church administration combines history and memory in a remarkable way,” says longtime associate Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “His knowledge of things ‘as they were’ and now ‘as they are’ have prepared him to contribute to ‘things as they will be.’ ” The Administration Building, where the young missionary made that first impressive report to the First Presidency, is the same building today in which he now presides as President of the Church exactly 60 years later.

Young Gordon B. Hinckley was as helpful as he was impressive to the many leaders of the Church he assisted with staff work. All found him to be bright, responsive, and very hardworking. But perhaps no one was closer to him, nor had more of an influence upon him through those years, than President Stephen L Richards.

When President Hinckley first began working at Church headquarters, Elder Stephen L Richards, then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, chaired the Radio, Publicity, and Mission Literature Committee of the Church, to which Gordon was assigned as executive secretary. Later, when Elder Richards became First Counselor to President David O. McKay in the First Presidency of the Church, Gordon stayed at his side as executive secretary of the Missionary Committee, which President Richards chaired."

The Deseret News added: " On returning home, President Hinckley went to the office of the First Presidency to deliver a mission status report and after delivering the report in a session that lasted 1 1/2 hours was asked to teach seminary part time. Soon afterward, President David O. McKay organized the church Radio, Publicity and Mission Literature Committee and asked President Hinckley to serve part time as secretary of that committee, which then included six members of the Quorum of the Twelve.

The committee, forerunner to the church's Public Communications Department, prepared numerous filmstrips and audiovisual materials for use throughout the church. President Hinckley was put in charge of church radio work at the time and wrote many radio scripts, including 39 half-hour dramatizations of church history titled "The Fullness of Times," which he also edited and produced. Another series, readings from the Book of Mormon titled "A New Witness for Christ," also enjoyed wide radio play."

“Stephen L Richards had a tremendous impact for good upon my life,” President Hinckley says fondly. “He was a strong and gentle man who was particularly kind to me.”

Obviously the feeling was mutual, for President Richards wrote to his young assistant on 22 December 1953:

“Dear Gordon, Please accept my heartiest good wishes for a happy Christmas time for you and your family. I cannot tell you how deeply I appreciate your association and help. I do not see how I could carry forward my assignment without the efficient service you so willingly give. I am sure the Lord will bless you for it, for you are a great contributor to his holy cause. Gratefully and devotedly your brother and friend, [signed] Stephen L Richards."

The Presidents of the Church Religion 324 Manual added the following details about his job: "After Gordon B. Hinckley’s mission, his mission president, Elder Joseph F. Merrill of the Council of the Twelve, asked him to report to President Heber J. Grant and the First Presidency concerning the publication of missionary materials. “A new committee of the Twelve was organized to bring to missionary work the power of the latest means of communication. Brother Hinckley was to serve as producer and secretary for the Church Radio, Publicity, and Mission Literature Committee. This was, in fact, the beginning of the Public Communications Office in the Church. His plans to go to Columbia University would be put aside. His career as a seminary teacher, for he taught half-time when he returned from his mission, would be replaced. The committee included six members of the Twelve, with Elder Stephen L Richards as chairman” (Packer, Ensign, Feb. 1986, 5).

The Associated Press
said: "Upon his return, he became executive director of the newly formed Church Radio, Publicity, and Mission Literature Committee at $60 a month. Hinckley always worked for the church, except for a brief stint during World War II as a railroad agent."

The New York Times
said Gordon B. Hinckley "returned to Salt Lake City and informed headquarters that missionaries needed better materials to explain the church’s teachings to prospective converts. He was soon assigned to direct the church’s publicity efforts, which he did for the next 20 years. For seven years afterward, he managed the church’s missionary program."

Jeffrey R. Holland says about his family:

"The Hinckleys were married 29 April 1937 and have had born to them three daughters and two sons—Kathleen H. Barnes, Richard Gordon, Virginia H. Pearce, Clark Bryant, and Jane H. Dudley. To this extremely close-knit family have since been added 25 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. . . .

In the late 30s the Deseret News said: "He wrote and produced "The Fulness of Times" and "New Witness for Christ" series of recordings. Some aired on 400 radio stations nationwide. He also supervised translations of the Book of Mormon and designed the church's 1939 exhibit at the San Francisco World's Fair.

He helped pioneer the use of filmstrips, motion pictures and radio spots in missionary work. He wrote missionary pamphlets and supervised the translation of the scriptures in several languages.

In 1942, he compiled 60 color slides of church history sites and wrote a script. He retraced the pioneer trail and, as a result, located the grave of Rebecca Winters, grandmother of President Grant. It had been previously lost to the church.

In 1951, he was named executive secretary of the General Missionary Committee and a year later introduced uniform missionary lessons. These were garnered from missions nationwide.

n 1954, President David O. McKay asked him to spearhead the production of temple materials in 13 languages. The methods he developed are still being used in a number of the temples.

His non-church employment came as a result of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. He applied for officer training at the naval recruiting office but was rejected because of a history of allergies. So, to contribute to the war effort, he worked as the assistant superintendent of the Salt Lake Union Depot and Railway Co. Later he became assistant manager of mail and express traffic for the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. He was also president and director of a local company, Recording Arts Inc. He returned to church employment in 1944, following a visit with Elder Stephen L. Richards.

A humble man, President Hinckley often struggled with feelings of inadequacy.

"I look back at myself as a shy and bashful boy—-freckle-faced and awkward," he once told a Church News reporter."

In 1951, President Hinckley was appointed executive secretary of the church's Missionary Committee, where he administered the affairs of dozens of missions and thousands of missionaries worldwide.

When he worked as the secretary of the Missionary Committee from 1951 until 1958 he handled many of daily concerns dealing with missionaries. One missionary's father came to see him: "Years ago, when I was running the Missionary Department, we permitted some missionaries to have cars in the United States if their families would furnish them. You never saw such a collection of cars. Well, a father came to see me one day and said he would like to take a car to his son in Los Angeles. He was riding a bicycle and his father was afraid he was going to get killed. So we agreed that he could have a car. He came in after he deliver it to tell me what happened. He drove the car from Salt Lake all the way to Los Angeles. He found where his son lived, knocked on the door, and his son came to the door and said, “Dad, it is good to see you. Are those the keys to the car? Let me have them. We have a baptism in thirty minutes. We need to get to the meetinghouse. There is a little restaurant around the corner. You go around and get something to eat and then you take a taxi to the meeting.” The missionary drove off in the car and the father said to himself, “He is still the same ingrate he always was.” The father decided he would go home.
After he had a little something to eat he felt a little better and decided he would go to the meeting. They were just completing a baptism and having a testimony meeting when he got to the chapel. A man stood up and said, “I am an old man but I have been born today. I am a graduate of three universities but I have learned things that I could never have learned in school. I am so grateful to that missionary right there who taught me the gospel that I do not know how to express my thanks.” Then a woman stood up and spoke along the same lines and pointed to the same missionary. This man said, “They were talking about my son and I was on the back row crying like a baby.” He said, very thoughtfully, “I left the chapel and threw away the cigarettes that I had in my pocket. I came home and threw the coffee pot in the garbage. I am still trying to live worthy of my boy.” I saw that man in the Salt Lake Temple a little over a year later. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Honduras Tegucigalpa Missionary Meeting, 22 January 1997)."

President Hinckley shared a few of his journal entries from this time in the April 2006 General Conference: "I am now trying to deal with the many books and artifacts that I have accumulated over the years. In the course of this process I found an old journal with sporadic entries from the years 1951 to 1954. At that time I was a counselor in my stake presidency and had not yet been called as a General Authority.

As I read through this old journal, I recalled with appreciation how, through the kindness of the Lord, I came to know very intimately and well all of the First Presidency and members of the Quorum of the Twelve. Such an opportunity could not now be had by anyone because the Church is much larger.

The journal contains entries such as the following:

“March 11, 1953—President McKay discussed with me the April conference program for mission presidents.

“Thursday, March 19—Joseph Fielding Smith asked that I get one of the Brethren to illustrate handling of Saturday night missionary conferences. … I believe that Spencer W. Kimball or Mark E. Petersen should take care of it.

“Thursday, March 26—President McKay told an interesting story. He said, ‘A farmer had a large tract of land. When he grew old it became too much for him. He had a family of boys. He called the boys around him and told them they would have to carry the load. The father rested. But one day he walked out into the field. The boys told him to go back, they did not need his help. He said, “My shadow on this farm is worth more than the labor of all of you.” ’ President McKay said that the father in the story represented President Stephen L Richards, who was ill, but whose contribution and friendship President McKay valued so highly.

“Friday, April 3, 1953—Attended temple meeting with General Authorities and mission presidents from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. More than 30 mission presidents spoke. All want more missionaries. All making good progress.

“Tuesday, April 14—President Richards at office, had a pleasant visit with him. He appears tired and weak. I feel he has been preserved by the Lord for a great purpose.

“Monday, April 20, 1953—Had an interesting visit with Henry D. Moyle of the Council of the Twelve Apostles.

“July 15, 1953—-Albert E. Bowen, member of the Council of the Twelve, died after more than a year of serious illness. Another of my friends has gone. … I got to know him well. He was a wise and steady man. Could never be rushed, and was never in a rush. Extremely deliberate—a man of uncommon wisdom, a man of great and simple faith. The old, wise heads are passing on. They were my friends. In my brief time I have seen many of the great men of the Church come and go. Most of them I have worked with and known intimately. Time has a way of erasing their memory. Another five years and such names as Merrill, Widtsoe, Bowen—all powerful figures—will be forgotten by all but a few. A man must get his satisfaction from his work each day, must recognize that his family may remember him, that he may count with the Lord, but beyond that, small will be his monument among the coming generations.”

And so it goes. I read it only to illustrate the remarkable relationship I had as a young man with members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve." (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Seek Ye the Kingdom of God,” Liahona, May 2006, 81–83)

In the 1950s Bruce Van Orden said Gordon B. Hinckley who worked for the missionary department helped to expand temple work:

"In 1953, the First Presidency wrote to mission presidents: "It is the present intention of the Church to do what is reasonably possible in providing temples throughout the world that the members may remain in the areas and yet have opportunity to receive the blessings of the temple ordinances, all to the end that … spreading the Gospel to all nations, tongues and people might be consummated in the shortest possible time."

One of President McKay’s steps was to travel to various continents encouraging the Saints with his counsel and assessing the needs of the Church. During his visits, he identified locations, then broke ground for temples in Switzerland, England, and New Zealand. He also directed Gordon B. Hinckley, secretary of the General Missionary Committee at the time, to prepare the presentation of the endowment ceremony in such a way that it could be delivered in a single ordinance room in different languages to accommodate the multiple languages of the European Saints.

Missionary work during the 1950s became a larger undertaking than at any other time during the previous 100 years, bringing the beginning of fulfillment to the Prophet Joseph Smith’s words of the 1842 Wentworth Letter: “The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear.”

With the expanded use of commercial airline travel by missionaries and leaders in the late 1950s, the way was opened for both leaders and missionaries to travel to many nations of the earth. Thousands of young men accepted mission calls and joined in an unprecedented effort to take the gospel to many new nations—an effort that grew steadily over decades. A record number of missionaries—over 3,000—had been called and set apart in 1950, but due to the Korean War, the number of new missionaries called was severely curtailed during the next three years.

As the war ended in 1953, President McKay gave inspired counsel that would come to have an immense effect: “Every member a missionary.” Members became more aware of their everyday role as examples, friends, and sources of information about the Church to their nonmember acquaintances. Missionaries once again entered the mission field in growing numbers, and multiple missions were created in such lands as Australia, Brazil, Britain, Germany, Mexico, and New Zealand. With more missionaries and more members spreading the gospel, Church membership had jumped by about 50 percent at the end of the decade."

On 6 April 1958, while serving as president of the East Millcreek Stake in Salt Lake City (a stake is similar to a diocese), President Hinckley was appointed as a general authority, or senior full-time leader of the Church. He was sustained as an Assistant to the Twelve on 6 April 1958 and as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on 30 September 1961. He served in that quorum for nearly 20 years, until he was called as a counselor to President Spencer W. Kimball on 23 July 1981. He was called as Second Counselor in the First Presidency on 2 December 1982. He served as First Counselor to both President Ezra Taft Benson and President Howard W. Hunter before being ordained President of the Church on 12 March 1995.

On 2 April 1995, one day after he had been sustained as President of the Church in a solemn assembly of members, he stood at the pulpit in the Tabernacle and briefly reviewed his service in the Church, expressing deep gratitude for those who have contributed to the Church’s growth and progress. Once again he reiterated his determination to do nothing less than his best: "I stand as your servant and pledge to you and to the Lord my very best effort as I ask for your continuing faith and prayers and uplifted hands" ("This Is the Work of the Master," Ensign, May 1995, 70). "I am fully aware that I am not a young man as I shoulder the responsibilities of this sacred office,” he continued. "But I think I can honestly say that I do not feel old. … I can still experience a great, almost youthful exuberance in my enthusiasm for this precious work of the Almighty."
Gordon B. Hinckley Hong Kong 1960

"In 1958 Gordon B. Hinckley was called as an Assistant to the Twelve. In this capacity he continued to supervise the Missionary Department. When the world was divided into “areas,” each supervised by one of the General Authorities, Elder Hinckley accepted the assignment to supervise the work in Asia. He also served under Elder Harold B. Lee on the General Priesthood Committee as it planned what later became Priesthood Correlation.

Elder Boyd K. Packer related his experience with Elder Hinckley when he was called to be an Assistant to the Twelve: "My first assignment as an Assistant to the Twelve was as assistant to Elder Hinckley in the Missionary Department.

Soon thereafter he left to tour the missions in Europe with President Henry D. Moyle. After he returned, he told me that one of the hardest things he ever had to do happened in Düsseldorf.

On their last evening in Europe, President Moyle hosted a dinner for the missionaries, including Elder Hinckley’s son Richard. Elder Hinckley said good-bye to his son at the hotel. He said that to watch Richard walk away with his companion into the cold, dark night was the hardest thing he ever had to do. He wept as he told me about it.

Brother Hinckley’s extraordinary intelligence and his incredible memory were immediately apparent."


Elders Henry D. Moyle and Elder Gordon B. Hinckley 14 June 1961

In 1961 Elder Hinckley was called to be one of the Lord’s “special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world” (D&C 107:23) as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. As an Apostle, Elder Hinckley traveled many miles, including an around-the-world tour in 1964.

Shaun D. Stahle in the Church News in 2008 wrote of an incident during the time he was executive secretary of the missionary department: "A common comment by those who worked under his direction or who sought his advice was that President Hinckley loved people and was concerned for their welfare.

On one occasion while serving as executive secretary for the Missionary Department, he learned of a missionary who returned home because of a serious illness. Following an operation, a room near the hospital was secured where the mother of this young man could be with him during his convalescence.

The summer was hot and the room was unbearably warm. Elder Hinckley sent the electric fan from his office to the missionary to make his room more comfortable and ease his suffering." ("Going forward with the faith of his fathers," LDS Church News, [Saturday, February 2, 2008]: 13).

Boyd K. Packer in the March 2008 Ensign in an article entitled "This Gentle Giant" tells of a missionary visit made by Elder Hinckley that occurred in 1961: "My first assignment as an Assistant to the Twelve was as assistant to Elder Hinckley in the Missionary Department.

Soon thereafter he left to tour the missions in Europe with President Henry D. Moyle. After he returned, he told me that one of the hardest things he ever had to do happened in Düsseldorf.

On their last evening in Europe, President Moyle hosted a dinner for the missionaries, including Elder Hinckley’s son Richard. Elder Hinckley said good-bye to his son at the hotel. He said that to watch Richard walk away with his companion into the cold, dark night was the hardest thing he ever had to do. He wept as he told me about it.

Brother Hinckley’s extraordinary intelligence and his incredible memory were immediately apparent. But I had learned something else more important. I had seen inside of Elder Gordon B. Hinckley. He has always been a very private person, and only occasionally does one see inside of him."


Two years later in 1966 he visited Saigon during the Vietnam conflict and dedicated that land for the preaching of the gospel. During his travels he met with world leaders, conducted conferences, dedicated chapels, visited missions, and in other ways worked "to build up the church, and regulate all the affairs of the same in all nations" (D&C 107:33).

In 1993 at the Days of '47 Celebration Gerry Avant reported Gordon B. Hinckley's remarks about pioneers when President Hinckley shared the following: "Pioneers are found among the missionaries who teach the gospel and they are found among the converts who come into the Church. It usually is difficult for each of them. It invariably involves sacrifice. It may involve persecution. But these are costs which are willingly borne and the price that is paid is as real as was the price of those who crossed the plains in the great pioneering effort more than a century ago.

"Mine was the opportunity to supervise the work of the Church in Asia more than 30 years ago," President Hinckley continued. "I was the first General Authority so assigned and worked among the people of Asia for almost 11 years. When we first went there we had small branches in some of the countries and nothing in others. I watched the planting of the seeds of the gospel in some of these areas where lived so many of the world's people. I have seen with my own eyes the wonderful growth of the work in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines and other places.

"In some of these areas there were no members of the Church in those early days, back in the 1960s. Now there are strong stakes of Zion, directed by able local leaders. The seminary and institute program functions with vitality. We have beautiful temples, and congregations of faithful and devoted Latter-day Saints.

"When I was first assigned over there I would weep for what seemed insurmountable barriers. I have seen these barriers fall as the work has grown in a most remarkable way." ("Present-Day Pioneers: Many Are Still Blazing Gospel Trails," Church News [Saturday, 24 July 1993]: 6).



In 1981 President Spencer W. Kimball called Elder Hinckley to be a third counselor in the First Presidency. Because President Kimball and both of the other counselors were in poor health, a heavy load fell on President Hinckley’s capable shoulders. This situation was repeated during the next dozen years, requiring President Hinckley to provide much of the primary direction in the Church’s day-to-day affairs.

Even before becoming President of the Church, Gordon B. Hinckley dedicated more temples than anyone else in the present dispensation. At the October 1985 general conference he rejoiced in his experiences at temple dedications that year: “I have looked into the faces of tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints. Their skins are of varying colors and hues. But their hearts beat as one with testimony and conviction concerning the truth of this great restored work of God. I have heard their testimonies spoken with sincerity. I have listened to their prayers. I have heard them lift their voices in anthems of praise. I have seen their tears of gratitude. I have known of their sacrifices made in appreciation for the blessings that have come to them.”

Saints around the world have been blessed with temples dedicated by President Hinckley. In 1984, when President Hinckley dedicated the Manila Philippines Temple, there were over 100,000 Saints in the Philippines. Only twenty-three years earlier, when Elder Hinckley had opened missionary work in the country, there had been only one native member. In South Africa President Hinckley contrasted the highly publicized racial tensions of that country with the harmony among various ethnic groups as the faithful Saints assembled within the temple. At the dedication of the Freiberg Germany Temple, the Saints rejoiced that a new day had dawned and the sun was shining both in the physical and political climates of their country.

In the 1960s, Elder Hinckley as an Assistant to the Twelve supervised the Church in Asia. He traveled to the Orient 21 times in an eight-year period. He summarized his satisfaction with his assignment:

"I have learned to love the people of Asia. I spent 11 years among them, and I love them. To me, I love them as much as I love anybody because of the experience I have had as a missionary, as it were, among them.

There’s something wrong if a missionary doesn’t come back with a great love for the people among he labored. (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Gifts to Bring Home from the Mission Field,” New Era, [March 2007]: 3).

In 1999 in Conference President Hinckley talked about how missionaries should be grateful to have good companion:

"For a number of years, while I had responsibility for the work in Asia, I interviewed each missionary one-on-one. I asked each what virtue he or she saw in his or her companion and would like to put into his or her own life.

When I raised that question, almost invariably the missionary, an elder for example, would stop with a surprised look on his face. He had never thought of his companion that way before. He had seen his faults and weaknesses but had not seen his virtues. I would tell him to pause and think about it for a minute. Then the answers would begin to come. Such answers as, "He's a hard worker." "He gets up in the morning." "He dresses neatly." "He doesn't complain."

It was a remarkable thing, really. These young men and women, for the most part, had been oblivious to the virtues of their companions, although they were well aware of their companions' faults, and often felt discouraged because of them. But when they began to turn their attitudes around, remarkable things began to happen. (Gordon B. Hinckley, "Strengthening Each Other," Ensign, [February 1985]: 3-4).

When asked by a reporter to identify the greatest challenge facing the Church, he recalled some experiences from his time directing the work in Asia he said:

“The most serious challenge we face and the most wonderful challenge is the challenge that comes of growth.” He explained that increased growth presents the need for more buildings, including more temples: “This is the greatest era in the history of the Church for temple building. Never has the construction of temples gone forward with the momentum that is now being carried forward. We have 47 operating temples. We have 13 other temples in some course of construction reaching back to the drawing board. We will continue to build temples.” Increased Church growth has also made necessary the translation of the Book of Mormon into many languages.

President Hinckley has had personal experience with the dramatic growth of the Church. While attending a conference in Osaka, Japan, in 1967, he looked out at the audience, which included many young people, and said: “In you I see the future of the Church in Japan. And I see a great future. We have scarcely scratched the surface. But I feel impressed to say what I have felt for a long time, and that is that the day is not far distant when there will be stakes of Zion in this great land.” 15 Within a generation, there were 100,000 Latter-day Saints in Japan, many stakes, missions, and districts, and a temple.

President Hinckley is also very interested in the growth of the Church in the Philippines, where the first stake was organized in Manila in 1973. Two decades later, at the time he became President of the Church, over 300,000 Philippine members were receiving the blessings of the gospel, including a temple in their country. President Hinckley has shown great concern for the growth of the Church in other parts of Asia as well, including Korea, China, and Southeast Asia.

The spirituality of many members in Asia is evidenced by the experience of a General Authority who was assigned to call a new stake president in a Philippines stake. After interviewing a number of priesthood brethren, he was impressed to call a man in his mid-twenties to be the stake president. He asked the young brother to go into an adjoining room and take some time to select his counselors. The brother came back in about 30 seconds. The General Authority thought he had misunderstood, but the new stake president said, “No. I knew through the Spirit of the Lord that I was going to be the stake president a month ago. I’ve already selected my counselors.”

It is fitting that President Hinckley, who has done so much to assist in the establishment of the Church throughout the world, was able to announce during his administration: “Our statisticians tell me that if the present trend continues, then some time in February of 1996, just a few months from now, there will be more members of the Church outside the United States than in the United States. The crossover of that line is a wonderfully significant thing. It represents the fruit of a tremendous outreach.”

On the 23rd of September 1973 Sheri Dew says that President Hinckley went to Australia for a mission presidents' seminar:

"Less than two weeks after the Hinckleys returned from England they were off again, this time to Australia to conduct a seminar for the ten mission presidents serving throughout the South Pacific. This was Elder Hinckley's first flight on a Boeing 747, and he wondered as he stood at the bottom of the steps how such a monstrous aircraft could fly. Their trip was even more enjoyable than usual because Kathy and her eldest daughter, Heather, joined them in Australia. As Elder Hinckley often said, usually with a sigh, "We're a traveling family." Their travel itineraries, however, routed them home on separate flights. During the Hinckleys' layover in Honolulu, they walked to the observation deck for fresh air and while there saw Kathy and Heather arriving on another flight. Kathy didn't hear her parents call to them. Elder Hinckley mused: "It made me think that perhaps this is the way it will be in the life to come—we will be able to look down upon our posterity, but they will not be able to see us. We will share their joys and sorrows. We will try to shout to them and help them and guide them, but they will have to have their own experiences, exercising their free agency, and accepting the penalties or the blessings derived from their actions." (Sheri Dew, Go Forward with Faith: Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996, p. 329).

In February 1974 he traveled to Japan, according to Sheri Dew: "The next morning Elder Hinckley described his excitement at being back in the Orient: "Something is tingling in my bones this morning as I sense that I am here in Japan visiting with the Saints and the missionaries. I have been here so many times, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in rejoicing. And now it seems that the dark days of pioneering are behind us and that the Church is on solid footing." (GBH Journal, 16 February 1974.) The feeling seemed to be mutual. After one meeting at a Tokyo ward, he noted: "I have never seen such a welcome. . . . At the close of the meeting we were literally besieged. People were pushing so hard to get to us that I was afraid someone was going to get hurt, and it might have been me. When we finally got away, I was so tired and weary I could hardly hold my head up." ( GBH Journal, 21 February 1974.)

Despite his joy in returning to Asia, Elder Hinckley noticed a distressing trend: too many converts were being lost. "Too many are coming in the front door and going out the back," he worried aloud."(Sheri Dew, Go Forward with Faith: Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996, p. 334).

In October 1975 "On the day the General Authorities were to leave, a group visited the cemetery at Fort Bonifacio and Elder Gordon B. Hinckley offered a prayer at the same spot where the islands had been rededicated by him years previously. He reminisced about the difficulties encountered in starting missionary work there and compared those conditions with the much more favorable ones of today."

In 1977 Sheri Dew shared a journal entry of Elder Hinckley dated 20 January 1977 in her biography Go Forward in Faith: "In January 1977 the Hinckleys were off again to Asia. They loved returning to Hong Kong, the site of a mission presidents' seminar for those serving in Asia. After their three days there he wrote, "We felt a tug in our hearts as we left Hong Kong. . . . We have had so much to do with the Church here, that we leave with sadness each time we depart, without any idea as to whether we shall return again." 7 The tedious exit requirements at Hong Kong's Kai Tak Airport prompted another observation: "Someday I would like to write a book on the man with the rubber stamp. Life is a series of rubber stamps with our eternal passports being marked by those who judge us along the way and clear us if all is in order." (Go Forward with Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996, p. 355).



Also in the mid1960s he helped in restoring missionaries to Argentina: "The nation of Argentina once ordered all of our missionaries out and it was a very, very serious thing. I went to Washington to meet with the Argentine Ambassador to the United States. Brother Richard Scott, who was then the mission president in Argentina, came up and met with us. Brother Robert Barker, who had entrée to many people in Washington, opened the door and we called on the Ambassador. He was as cold as ice. All that we said didn’t touch him. He remained adamant. He wouldn’t give in on any concession. Brother Scott had with him a book showing all of his missionaries, and he handed the book to me. I said, “Mr. Ambassador,” as I opened it, “these are the young men and women that we are talking about. They will come home from your country when they have completed their missions. They will go on to school. They will become people of substance. They will become people of influence. Argentina will never have better friends anywhere in this world than these young men and women who have served in your country as missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They will dream of getting married and taking their brides back to Argentina. They may not be able to afford it, but they’ll never get over the idea of going back to Argentina. They will always have a warm place in their hearts for your land and people. I believe that they are blessing your nation, and I believe that they will be your friends forever.”

He said, “Well, I’ll see what I can do.” And miraculously the order was lifted and the missionaries were given their visas and permitted to continue to go there. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Spain Madrid Missionary Meeting, 11 June 1996).

In 1983 Sister Perla Garcia de Bravo told of an experience her son had with President Hinckley then a counselor in the First Presidency about missionary worthiness:

It was five o’clock in the morning when my husband and I, with two of our four children, left home in our small car. A fierce downpour pummeled the windshield, making it hard to see the road. But despite the weather, we were in a state of high excitement, for this was September 1983, and we were traveling to the dedication of the temple in Santiago, Chile.

My husband, a counselor in the bishopric, had received two tickets to attend dedicatory sessions in one of the large rooms inside the temple. Our older children, Igor and Perlita, ages 10 and 9, would see the services on closed-circuit television from a meetinghouse near the temple.

Brother Basualto, the other counselor in the bishopric, and his wife were traveling with us. They would sit with our children in the meetinghouse.

As we drove, Sister Basualto recounted a dream she had had the night before. “My husband and I were in the meetinghouse with your children, waiting for the session to start,” she told us. “Suddenly, one of the ushers came up and said, ‘Follow me. There are four extra seats in the temple.’ He took us into the temple and seated us right in front. It felt so real! When it was over, the General Authorities shook hands with the people. One of them spoke to your children.” As we listened to her, a peaceful feeling came over us. The rain continued to pour down.

We arrived at the temple, which stood stately and majestic in the storm. Shielding ourselves under a huge umbrella, we left our children and the Basualtos at the meetinghouse and hurried to our seats in the temple. The dedication was an extraordinary experience, with the Spirit gloriously in attendance. Even thinking about it today, I have a sweet and peaceful feeling. After the session was over, the members of the choir continued to sing with all their hearts in hymns of praise to the Lord.

My husband and I left the temple and went to the meetinghouse to join our children and friends. They were nowhere to be found. Quite concerned, we inquired if anyone had seen them. We were told, “Just before the session began, someone took them into the temple.” We looked back toward the temple and saw the four of them walking in the gardens.

Soon we were greeting one another excitedly. “Everything was just like my dream!” exclaimed Sister Basualto with tears in her eyes. How thrilled they had been to be seated inside the house of the Lord! Then they tenderly described how, at the conclusion, President Gordon B. Hinckley, then Second Counselor in the First Presidency, came up to our son Igor and spoke to him through an interpreter.

“How old are you, son?” President Hinckley asked.

“Ten,” said Igor.

“Will you promise me, here in the house of the Lord, that when the time comes you will serve a full-time mission, no matter what the obstacles?”

“Yes,” Igor replied in a quiet voice. “I promise.”

President Hinckley then turned to our daughter Perlita. “And you, my precious child, will you promise me that you will keep yourself clean and pure so that you can be married in the house of the Lord?”

She, too, shyly responded, “Yes.” We all wept as we thought of the marvelous events we had witnessed that day and of the beautiful promises the children had made.

Now, more than 10 years have passed. During that time, President Hinckley has become President of the Church, and my husband and I have watched both our children withstand the darts of the adversary. We have watched them stand firm and keep their childhood promises. Igor served as a missionary in the Chile Viña del Mar Mission. And his sister Perlita married a returned missionary in the beautiful Santiago Chile Temple—the same temple in which she and her brother had made special promises to a servant of the Lord and had witnessed a dream fulfilled."

In 1984 Elder Hinckley returned to Asia: "I could not hold back the tears when we were in the Philippines. It was my privilege to participate in the opening of missionary work in that land in 1961. At that time we did not have a building of any kind, and we had only one native member of the Church of whom we were aware. In 1984, only twenty-three years later, it was our privilege to dedicate a beautiful temple of the Lord in a choice area of the great metropolis of Manila. I looked into the faces of those thousands of enlightened and faithful Latter-day Saints on whom the Lord is pouring out His blessings in a marvelous and wonderful way. In less that a quarter of a century, from one native member we found in 1961, the Church has grown to well over a hundred thousand. There are my friends, the people I love, among whom I have taught the gospel. The opening of the temple represented the fullness of gospel opportunity for them, the longed--for fruition of their dreams."




In 9 November 1998 President Hinckley traveled south to Puebla, Mexico, where he addressed about 12,000 members. Speaking to full-time missionaries seated together near the front of the congregation, the Church leader said: “Yours is only part of the process of bringing faithful members into the Church. … We are determined that we will all work together, every member of the Church, to help your converts become faithful and solid members of the Church.”

On 10 November 1998 he told the members in Oaxaca, Mexico: “For 100 years the gospel has touched the lives of the people. Once we were small and weak, just a little handful of people. We were held in suspicion. The government looked upon us with disfavor. Now all that has changed. We have status here. … What a wonderful thing has happened. You belong to a great family of Saints, 10 million members now across the world, and 800,000 of those live in Mexico. Nearly a tenth of the members of the Church reside in this land. We have become a mighty congregation.”

On the 12 November 1998 he went to Belize City, Belize and became the first Church President to visit Belize, a small nation located between Mexico and Guatemala and populated by some 215,000 people. Missionary work began there in 1980, and today Belize has about 2,000 Church members organized into 3 districts with 13 branches. President Hinckley was accompanied to Belize by Elder Julio E. Alvarado, an Area Authority Seventy who serves as a counselor in the Central America Area Presidency. An estimated 1,200 members gathered to hear the Church leader speak in a college gymnasium.

“You fathers and mothers who are here, there has come to you through the restored gospel an understanding of who your children are,” President Hinckley said. “They too are sons and daughters of God. They are His children. They are to be reared in light and truth. … The restored gospel teaches us about the relationship of husbands and wives. They walk together, not the husband ahead, not the wife behind, but as companions walking side by side.”

A tradition that grew up in the LDS Church was to hold missionary farewells. From 1820 until early in the twentieth century missionaries went out without script or purse depending on the generousness of others. During much of President Hinckley's life missionaries and families began supporting them. In the year 2002 President Hinckley changed the way missionary farewells would be conducted where people would go and give the missionary a few bucks. In addition missionaries were accorded all the time in sacrament meetings for their family and friends to speak about them before they went out and when they returned. In places like Utah, Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona it left little room for other gospel subjects to be covered. His new policy became:

"Now, we have an interesting custom in the Church. Departing missionaries, are accorded a farewell. In some wards this has become a problem. Between outgoing missionaries and returning missionaries, most sacrament meetings are devoted to farewells and homecomings.

No one else in the Church has a farewell when entering a particular service. We never have a special farewell meeting for a newly called bishop, for a stake president, for a Relief Society president, for a General Authority, or anyone else for whom I can think. Why should we have missionary farewells?

The First Presidency and the Twelve, after most prayerful and careful consideration, have reached the decision that the present program of missionary farewells should be modified.

The departing missionary will be given the opportunity to speak in a sacrament meeting for 15 or 20 minutes. But parents and siblings will not be invited to do so. There might be two or more departing missionaries who speak in the same service. The meeting will be entirely in the hands of the bishop and will not be arranged by the family. There will not be special music or anything of that kind.

We know this will be a great disappointment to many families. Mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, and friends have participated in the past. We ask that you accept this decision. Where a farewell has already been arranged, it may go forward. But none in the traditional sense should be planned for the future. We are convinced that when all aspects of the situation are considered, this is a wise decision. Please, accept it, my dear brethren. I extend this plea also to the sisters, particularly the mothers.

We hope also that holding elaborate open houses after the sacrament meeting at which the missionaries speaks will not prevail. Members of the family may wish to get together. We have no objection to this. However, we ask that there be no public reception to which large numbers are invited.

Missionary service is such a wonderful experience that it brings with it its own generous reward. And when a missionary returns to his family and his ward, he may again be given opportunity to speak in a sacrament meeting." (Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Report, 5 October 2002).

Rusty at Nine Moons shared this experience that characterizes his work ethic: "Years back Elder Ballard came to Spokane and before speaking at a multi-stake conference he met with the priesthood leadership in which he shared an experience he had with President Hinckley. Elder Ballard had recently undergone some sort of operation after which he sat down with President Hinckley regarding his upcoming schedule. In order to fully recover from the operation Elder Ballard proceeded to suggest a cut-back in his responsibilities from three conferences a month to one, and five missionary meetings to two (or something like that, I don’t remember the exact cut-backs he recommended). At one point President Hinckley cut him off and said, 'Stop, Elder Ballard. I want you to burn out, not fade away.'

Joseph Brillantes expresses his tender feelings about Gordon B. Hinckley:

"On the afternoon of 30 May 1996, I went with my family and two friends to the Araneta Coliseum in Manila to hear President Gordon B. Hinckley speak. He was visiting the Philippines, and we were excited to see him.

We arrived at the coliseum at 4:30 p.m. My friends, Princess and Paulo, my sister, Hay-Hay, and I lined up at an entrance. We soon found ourselves entering the topmost seating area of the coliseum.

We spent the next one and a half hours looking for better seats. When we were finally seated at 6:00 p.m., we waited and tried to be quiet. I did some thinking. I was preparing to hear the President of the Church, whom I had read so much about but did not know as a person. I could play “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet” (Hymns, number 19) on the piano from memory, but was I really thankful? I knew about President Gordon B. Hinckley because I had read about him. I believed he was a prophet because everybody said so. After some reflection, I realized I didn’t have a testimony of him. I realized that to have a testimony of him, I needed to know him and love him.

Suddenly the crowd stood up. Some people said President Hinckley had arrived. But after five minutes, we realized he hadn’t and sat down. I joked that it was just practice—we’d be able to stand with elegance and unity when he did arrive. The second time we stood, he still hadn’t arrived. The third time I was skeptical, but the choir began singing “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet.” Some people were waving, and some were clapping. Then I saw him; he passed right in front of us. We sat down when he motioned for us to sit, and the meeting began.

The first speaker talked about missionary work in the Philippines and how it has progressed in the short time since Elder Gordon B. Hinckley gave his first speech here in April 1961. At that time Elder Hinckley said, “What we begin here will affect the lives of thousands and thousands of people in this island republic, and its effects will go on from generation to generation for great and everlasting good” (“Dateline Philippines,” Tambuli, April 1991, 17). He was right; the Philippines now has more than 350,000 Church members.

President Hinckley counseled the young people to be “honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous,” and to do “good to all men” (A of F 1:13). He counseled all students to seek after the best education they can attain. He counseled single members to find worthy companions and marry in the temple for time and eternity. He apologized for not being able to hug and shake hands with all 35,000 people in the congregation. But he sent his love and his special blessing to each of us—blessing us that we would walk uprightly before the Lord.

While he was speaking, I felt his love—personally. At that moment, he became real to me. He has real love to offer to people, I thought. I couldn’t help but love him back. This was the first time I had ever had such an experience. His love answered many doubts in my mind. Finally I had a testimony that he is a prophet of God. I had not just knowledge, but a real testimony!

The meeting ended with the choir singing “God Be with You Till We Meet Again” (Hymns, number 152). President Hinckley and his companions walked down the aisle waving for the last time—until we meet again.

Tears were flowing from people’s eyes as they sent their love and gratitude to him."

President Hinckley’s last visit to Cancún, Mexico in November 1998, where 2,000 members gathered in a stake center to hear him speak sums up his personal testimony.

“I leave my blessings upon you as well as my love and say to you again, God be with you till we meet again,” President Hinckley said. “I don’t know when that will be. But I hope you will never forget that this night you heard Gordon B. Hinckley say that he knows that God our Eternal Father lives and answers prayers and that Jesus is our Redeemer and our Savior, and this is their work in which we are engaged.”



In 1995 when President Gordon B. Hinckley became the President there were nine million members of the church. In November 2007 Elder Ballard stated: "There are now over 13 million members in 176 countries and territories. About 6 million of these are in the United States, making us the fourth largest Christian denomination in America. As one of the fastest growing Christian faiths in the world, we complete a new chapel every working day. Members pay a tithe, which is 10 percent of their income, making this and other programs possible.

Over 70,000 members volunteer at their own expense to serve for 18 to 24 months in humanitarian efforts, Church service assignments, and full-time missionary service throughout the world."

In 1995 President Hinckley and his wife visited Ireland where he related another of his missionary stories:

"About 1,100 members from the recently created Dublin stake, Cork Ireland District and Belfast Northern Ireland Stake gathered for a fireside in the RDS Concert Hall to hear President Hinckley on Friday evening, Sept. 1. Nearly 160 missionaries from the Ireland Dublin Mission, who had a meeting with the prophet just prior to the fireside, looked on in an overflow room via closed circuit.

In that meeting with the missionaries, a stirring rendition of "Danny Boy" had been offered by three elders: tenor Ryan Best, pianist Aaron Boyd and violinist Joshua Rolfe. President Hinckley noted that he had first heard the song as a missionary in 1933, whose ship docked at midnight in a port near Cork, Ireland. As the young Elder Hinckley looked down from the ship's deck, he heard the song from the lips of a street-singing Irish tenor.

"That was the first time I had ever heard it," he told the missionaries. "Somehow it went into me, and I love to hear 'Danny Boy.' Thank you. . . .

"

After sharing his sentiments about the Saints and people of Ireland, President Hinckley discussed the importance of the missionary effort and of the miracle of personal testimony and growth of the Lord's work. He then referred to D&C 121 and 122 in the Doctrine and Covenants. He quoted D&C 122:1, wherein the Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith that "the ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name, and fools shall have thee in derision."

He made note of his own patriarchal blessing, received as a boy of 11. He took it with him when he went on a mission in 1933. "I read it on the boat on my way here. . . . It said among other things that I would lift my voice in testimony of the truth in the nations of the earth. I came to Britain on a mission. I gave my testimony the Sunday before I left in our meeting hall in London. The next week we were in Berlin, and I had opportunity to bear my testimony; and then in Paris, and I had opportunity to bear my testimony; and then in Washington, D.C., and I had opportunity to bear my testimony. And I said to myself, 'That part of your blessing is fulfilled. You have borne your testimony of this work in four great capitals of the world: London, Berlin, Paris, Washington.' "

He returned from his mission and told his father he didn't want to go on a family vacation to Yellowstone Park. "I never want to travel again, I'm tired of it," he told his father."

The prophet then recounted a lengthy list of nations in which he has since been permitted to bear testimony as a General Authority. (Mike Cannon, Visit to Ireland Caps 'Whirlwind Trip' Church News [Saturday, 9 September 1995]).


In March 2002, he disbanded stake missions, with the bishop and ward taking over the missionary, activation and retention responsibilities.

In 2007 at the Mission Presidents' Seminar President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke of the achievement of one million missionaries serving. "They are as much a symbol of the Church as the Salt Lake Temple and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir—clean-cut, well-dressed young men and women on bikes or on foot going door-to-door with a gospel message. Mormon missionaries have fanned across the globe since the earliest days of the Church and in the process have reached a major milestone.

“We have made great progress in our missionary work in recent years,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley at the Missionary Training Center in Provo during the most recent New Mission Presidents’ Training Seminar. “We have more missionaries—and more effective missionaries. It is reliably estimated that a million missionaries have served since the organization of the Church.”

“It is not possible to pinpoint exactly who the millionth missionary is,” said Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during a news conference while at the orientation sessions with 118 new mission presidents. “We do know that young men and women, senior sisters, and couples have volunteered to serve at their own or family expense in spreading this message to 145 nations and territories.”

In his Sunday morning "The Stone Cut Out of the Mountain" address in October 2007 he said: "Now, as we look back 177 years to the organization of the Church, we marvel at what has already happened. When the Church was organized in 1830 there were but six members, only a handful of believers, all residing in a largely unknown village. Today, we have become the fourth or fifth largest church in North America, with congregations in every city of any consequence. Stakes of Zion today flourish in every state of the United States, in every province of Canada, in every state of Mexico, in every nation of Central America and throughout South America.

Congregations are found throughout the British Isles and Europe, where thousands have joined the Church through the years. This work has reached out to the Baltic nations and on down through Bulgaria and Albania and other areas of that part of the world. It reaches across the vast area of Russia. It reaches up into Mongolia and all down through the nations of Asia into the islands of the Pacific, Australia, and New Zealand, and into India and Indonesia. It is flourishing in many of the nations of Africa.

Our general conferences are carried by satellite and other means in 92 different languages.

And this is only the beginning. This work will continue to grow and prosper and move across the earth. It must do so if Moroni’s promise to Joseph is to be fulfilled."

President Hinckley was the most traveled president in the Church’s history. His duties took him around the world many times to meet with Latter-day Saints in more than 60 countries. He was the first Church president to travel to Spain, where in 1996 he broke ground for a temple in Madrid; and to the African nations of Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Cape Verde, where he met with thousands of Latter-day Saints in 1998. In 2005, he traveled nearly 25,000 miles on a seven-nation, nine-day tour to Russia, South Korea, China, Taiwan, India, Kenya, and Nigeria.

In 2008 Jeffrey R. Holland said about President Hinckley's accomplishments: "At the near completion of his assignment as Chile Area president, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve described how President Hinckley emphasized this work to the Quorum of the Twelve:

"It is likely that we will remember him at least as emphatically for his determination to retain in permanent activity the converts who join this Church," said Elder Holland. "No modern prophet has addressed this issue more directly nor expected more from us in seeing that it happen. With a twinkle in his eye and a hand smacking the table in front of him, he said to the Twelve recently, 'Brethren, when my life is finished and the final services are concluding, I am going to rise up as I go by, look each of you in the eye, and say, "How are we doing on retention?"'

While the emphasis on retention has made a profound impact, its affect on outward statistics, such as total membership and annual convert baptisms, seems to make them less impressive. However, a second, unpublished statistic, that of converts who remain active after joining the Church, has improved dramatically. Missions and stakes are reporting stronger wards and branches across the world. Though specifics are not available, there is no question but that President Hinckley's efforts energized a vital area and left the Church much better prepared to face the future. (LDS Church News, [Saturday, February 2, 2008]: 19).

Thomas S. Monson recently shared a blessing he gave to President Hinckley in his last day of life: ""I was called to his bedside. President (Henry B.) Eyring (who was second counselor in the First Presidency) was with me. On Saturday, the day before he died, I said to his family, "I think we ought to come at three o'clock on the Sabbath day, and give Brother Hinckley a blessing.' I called Brother (Boyd K.) Packer (then-Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve) so he could be there with Brother Eyring and me because he's also been close to Brother Hinckley. That day, as the male members of Brother Hinckley's family, his doctor, and the little group that I had arranged for, put our hands on Brother Hinckley's head and gave him a blessing, I realized that it would not be long before he would be called home. I held his wrist and tapped it, one friend to another. Within three hours after the blessing, we got word that he had gone home to Heavenly Father." (Gerry Avant, "Church president to be sustained in solemn assembly:Pres. Thomas S. Monson holds all priesthood keys," Church News [Saturday, 5 April 2008): 3).

President Gordon B. Hinckley passed away in the Eagle Gate Apartments in Salt Lake City from complications of old age on Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 7:00 pm. Now that he is gone from this earth we always remember him addressing us in general conference proclaiming as he concluded on a few occasions "till we meet again." Many us hope to meet him again in the worlds to come. Well done thou good and faithful servant. May you have many more missionary experiences in the hereafter and one day take your place among the noble and great in our kingdom of God.

2 comments:

Mormon Soprano said...

What a very thorough biography!Thank you for taking so much time to post this, and the beautiful photos. I had not heard the patriarchal blessing story before. That was touching. President Hinckley means more to me than words can say. What a privilege it has been to live during his mortal mission.

Remembering Gordon B. Hinckley said...

Thank you so much. President Hinckley is amazing!

http://rememberinggordonbhinckley.blogspot.com/