President Gordon B. Hinckley: The Temple-Building Prophet
Reminiscing Gordon B. Hinckley by looking back at the story of his life,
reading his encouraging quotes, watching his General Conference talks, and more!
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is in our
nature to give importance not only to the current president but also to the previous
presidents of the church. We give thanks to them because their teachings and their
ways of living the gospel taught us how to be good sons and daughters of God.
First, let’s be reminded of the temple-building president in the church history
— President Gordon B. Hinckley
Gordon Bitner Hinckley served as the 15th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from March 12, 1995, until his death, January 27, 2008 (Aged 97). Gordon B. Hinckley surpassed David O. McKay to become the oldest person to preside over the church in its history on November 2, 2006.
What Was Gordon B. Hinckley Known For?
Gordon B. Hinckley’s presidency was known as the “temple-building period”. More than half of the existing temples were built under his leadership. There were 47 operating temples in the church when he became president, and at the time of his death, there were about 124 temples.
Aside from temples, Gordon B. Hinckley was the man behind the reconstruction of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, oversaw the extensive renovations of the Salt Lake Tabernacle, as well as the building of the 21,000-seat Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Conference Center is the premier meeting hall for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which is also believed to be the largest theater-style auditorium ever built.
During Gordon B. Hinkley’s administration, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” was issued. It is a 1995 statement that defined the official position of the church on family, marriage, gender roles, and human sexuality. You can read the proclamation read by President Gordon B. Hinckley as part of his message at the General Relief Society Meeting held on September 23, 1995, in Salt Lake City, Utah, on the churchofjesuschrist.org.
The Perpetual Education Fund (PEF) was also established during Gordon B. Hinckley’s presidency. It is a program of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that helps young men and women get a good education and to become self-reliant after serving a mission for the Church. Click here for more information about PEF.
The Gordon B. Hinckley Story
Aside from the details above, how well do you know President Gordon B. Hinckley? Let’s go back to 1910 and know more about his life, education, career, church service, and his journey to the presidency.
The Family Tree
Gordon B. Hinckley was born on June 23, 1910, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Bryant Stringham Hinckley and Ada Bitner Hinckley — both extraordinary latter-day saints. Bryant married Ada after the death of his first wife, Christine. Bryant and Christine had eight children, and Gordon B. Hinckley was the first child of Bryant and Ada. Gordon also has four more siblings after him. Since he was young, he had already learned how to treasure his family.
Gordon B. Hinckley’s parents and siblings weren’t the only ones that were active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Both the “Bitner” and “Hinckley” names were reminders of his noble heritage.
On Gordon B. Hinkley’s paternal lineage, his ancestors were part of the early pilgrims in the land that would become America. Some of them had dismissed because of their beliefs, and some had been passengers on the Mayflower — one of the pioneer ships that transported the first English Puritans (the Pilgrims) from England to North America.
The History of the Church: “How Did It Start?”
After two centuries, Gordon’s grandfather, Ira Nathaniel Hinckley, was an early latter-day saint leader who supervised the construction and maintenance of Cove Fort in Millard County, Utah. Anna Barr Musser Bitner Starr, Gordon’s great grandmother, was also a latter-day saint pioneer.
Gordon B. Hinckley married Marjorie Pay in the Salt Lake Temple on April 29, 1937, and had five children. His son, Richard G. Hinckley, is in the church’s General Authority since 2005. Gordon’s daughter, Virginia Hinckley Pearce, was a former member of the Young Women general presidency. His daughter, Kathleen Barnes Walker, co-authored several books with her sister Virginia. Gordon’s son, Clark Barnes Hinckley, has served in several church leadership positions such as Stake President, President of Spain Barcelona Mission, and President of Tijuana Mexico Temple.
Education and Church Service
Gordon B. Hinckley graduated from LDS High School, and later attended the University of Utah where he successfully completed an undergraduate degree in English and a minor in ancient languages.
During the Great Depression, Gordon B. Hinckley became a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is a very unusual occurrence for the Latter-day Saints during that time period. Elder Hinckley served the London-based British Mission from 1933 to 1935.
Gordon B. Hinckley, together with his two missionary companions, had toured Europe and the United States on their way home, which was a common practice during those days. He got tired and decided not to travel again. But before Gordon could say that his mission had completed, he still had to fulfill one more task. His mission president, Elder Joseph F. Merrill, assigned him to meet the First Presidency and make a request to provide better materials to missionaries for proselytizing. That meeting led to Gordon B. Hinckley’s employment as an Executive Secretary of the
church’s Radio, Publicity, and Missionary Literature Committee — a great opportunity for him to start his journalism career.
Aside from being a journalist, Gordon B. Hinckley also worked as a seminary teacher. He also served on the Sunday School General Board, as an executive secretary to the church’s Missionary Committee, and a reporter for the “Church News”, a publication of the Deseret News.
Years later, Gordon B. Hinckley had continued his journey as a journalist, and as a notable church official in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Apostleship and Presidency
On July 23, 1981, Gordon B. Hinckley was appointed as a counselor in the First Presidency by President Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Under President Kimball’s leadership, Gordon B. Hinckley presided over the dedication of 16 temples, including the Manila Philippines Temple. Upon the death of President Spencer W. Kimball, Gordon had dedicated approximately half of all the temples.
President Ezra Taft Benson, the 13th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, appointed Gordon B. Hinckley as the First Counselor together with Thomas S. Monson as the Second Counselor. During the Kimball and Benson presidencies, Gordon B. Hinckley had dedicated most of the newly-built temples. Upon President Benson’s death in 1994, approximately half of all the temples had been dedicated by Gordon B. Hinckley.
President Howard W. Hunter became the 14th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Gordon B. Hinckley became the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Unfortunately, President Hunter died after nine months.
At the age of 84, Gordon B. Hinckley became the 15th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To read an article about the current and 17th President, check out “President Russell M. Nelson: The Living Prophet”. (Please insert the link of that article once posted.)
On April 6, 2004, his wife, Marjorie Pay Hinckley, passed away. The difficulty and loneliness didn’t stop him from serving the church. Gordon’s own health started to weaken, and he started to use a cane. He used his cane more often to wave at the church members — which made his doctor feel more worried about the ways how he used and didn’t use the cane.
Earlier in 2006, Gordon B. Hinckley was diagnosed with cancer. At the October 2006 General Conference, he quoted:
“The Lord has permitted me to live; I do not know for how long. But whatever the time, I shall continue to give my best to the task at hand… I feel well; my health is reasonably good. But when it is time for a successor, the transition will be smooth and according to the will of Him whose Church this is.” (October 2006, The Faith to Move Mountains)
The next year, in the October 2007 General Conference Closing Remarks, President Gordon B. Hinckley said:
“We look forward to seeing you again next April. I’m 97, but I hope I’m going to make it. May the blessings of heaven attend you in the meantime is our humble and sincere prayer in the name of our Redeemer, even the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.” (October 2007, Closing Remarks)
On Thursday, January 24, 2008, President Hinckley started to feel different, he felt that he’s unable to participate in their weekly temple meeting. Three days later, Sunday, January 27, 2008, Thomas S. Monson gave him a priesthood blessing, assisted by Henry B. Eyring and Boyd K. Packer.
Later that day, surrounded by his five children and their spouses, inside their home full of faith, love, and hope, President Gordon B. Hinckley passed away.
Did You Know…?
- Gordon B. Hinckley’s leadership have baptized approximately one-third of the church’s population upon his death.
- Gordon B. Hinckley was baptized by his father, Bryant S. Hinckley, on 28 June 1919.
- In 1943, Gordon B. Hinckley was rejected by the Navy due to his allergies. He then contributed to the WWII effort by working in the railroad industry.
- Gordon B. Hinckley and his wife, Marjorie Pay, were originally neighbors.
- Gordon B. Hinckley was awarded 10 honorary doctorate degrees, the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush, the highest award in Boy Scouts of America, the Silver Buffalo, and had served as the Chairman of the Church Boards of Trustees/Education.
- Gordon B. Hinckley wrote the words for Hymn no. 135, “My Redeemer Lives”.
- Gordon B. Hinckley was a great author who had written several books, and his most popular book is “Standing for Something”.Gordon B. Hinckley appeared on the CBS program “60 minutes” with Mike Wallace.
Famous Gordon B. Hinckley Quotes
The members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints love verses, scripture passages, and even quotes from our prophets. Check out the list below for the most popular quotes from President Gordon B. Hinckley!
“Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.”
“And the only real wealth, for any of us,
lies in our faith.”
“In all of living, have much fun and laughter.
Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.”
“Get on your knees and pray, then get on your feet and work.”
“There is nothing that dulls a personality so much
as a negative outlook.”
“Respect for self is the beginning of cultivating virtue
in men and women.”
“Our lives are the only meaningful expression of what we believe
and in Whom we believe.”
“Dishonesty of any kind will create a blemish.”
“Some of our finest work comes through service to others.”
“I hope that if you are employed full-time, you are doing it to ensure that
basic needs are met and not simply to indulge a taste for an elaborate home,
fancy cars, and other luxuries.”
Being HUMBLE means recognizing we are not on earth to see how important we can
become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others.”
Gordon B. Hinckley’s words are inspiring, aren’t they? If you are someone who loves quotes or verses from the scriptures, you might want to check out the article “Favorite LDS Scriptures, Verses, and Quotes of the Living Scriptures Family”. (Please insert the link of that article once posted.)
To know more about the most heartening passages from the Book of Mormon, you can also watch “The Animated Book of Mormon Stories” available here at The Living Scriptures Streaming!
Gordon B. Hinckley Talks
President Gordon B. Hinckley has touched the hearts of people not only by his inspirational talks but also by his cheerful smile and sense of humor. Being optimistic even made his talks more encouraging. You can watch all of Gordon B. Hinckley’s General Conference Talks from 1971 up to 2007 on churchofjesuschrist.org.
“Be not afraid, only believe.”
Source of all images: churchofjesuschrist.org