Hinckley, Gordon B. 1910-2008 (Gordon Bitner Hinckley)

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Hinckley, Gordon B. 1910-2008 (Gordon Bitner Hinckley)


See index for CA sketch: Born June 23, 1910, in Salt Lake City, UT; died January 27, 2008, in Salt Lake City, UT. Mormon leader and author. Hinckley was a prominent leader in the highest tiers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for more than forty years, serving for the first twenty years as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, then for fifteen years as a counselor in the First Presidency. In 1995 he became the president and prophet of the international church body, a position he continued to hold at the time of his death. Because church leaders typically advance to this position in old age and often ill health, he became one of the longest-serving presidents in church history, second only to Brigham Young. One of Hinckley's missions as president was to bring the Mormon church into the mainstream of American religious denominations, and one of his first acts was an appearance on national television. He worked hard to counter the secretiveness that had shrouded the church from the outside world for decades, though he remained firmly in control of what church members were permitted to say, particularly in regard to criticism of church authority or challenges to church doctrine. Hinckley also promoted the growth of the church within the United States and abroad. His expansion efforts led to an increase in church membership of nearly forty percent. He spearheaded the building of more than seventy new temples (ceremonial structures, not necessarily regular places of worship) on all continents except Antarctica and traveled almost constantly from one site to another, even as his age approached the century mark. One of his most spectacular construction projects was the massive renovation and expansion of the historic Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. He also embraced remote outreach programs using satellite media broadcasts, Internet Web sites, and release to the general public of data from the church's massive genealogy collection. Hinckley himself was said to be larger than life and, as a natural master of public relations, one of the church's greatest assets in the quest for national acceptance. His many honors include awards from the National Conference for Community and Justice and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004. Hinckley was a lifelong Mormon and a paid employee of the church as early as 1935. Personal anecdotes from this long life of service add flavor to some of his books, including Standing for Something: Ten Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes (2000) and Way to Be! Nine Ways to Be Happy and Make Something of Your Life (2002). Hinckley's other writings include Walking in the Light of the Lord: A Message for Mothers (2001), Stand a Little Taller: Counsel and Inspiration for Each Day of the Year (2001), and One Bright Shining Hope: Messages for Women (2006).



Religious Leaders of America, 2nd edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1999.


Chicago Tribune, January 28, 2008, sec. 2, p. 12.

Los Angeles Times, January 28, 2008, pp. A1, A10.

New York Times, January 29, 2008, p. A24; January 30, 2008, p. A2; February 4, 2008, p. A2.

Times (London, England), January 29, 2008, p. 54.