Thomas S. Monson is the new president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it was announced today at a news conference in the Church Office Building. President Monson, 80, succeeds President Gordon B. Hinckley, who died 27 January 2008.
The new world leader of the Church has called to serve with him in the First Presidency, the top governing body of the 13-million-member faith, President Henry B. Eyring, 74, first counselor, and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 67, second counselor.
At the press conference, President Monson spoke of President Hinckley’s dedication and love for the people, and signaled “no abrupt changes” for the course of the Church.
The new Church leader also paid tribute to the many hallmarks of President Hinckley’s administration, including the building of temples and the creation of the Perpetual Education Fund, a program for providing loans to young Church members so they can pay for their education. President Monson called the Perpetual Education Fund “a miracle.”
When asked by a reporter about his own desire to reach out to the poor and the needy, President Monson said he learned it from his mother. He grew up watching her help young men, with meals and encouragement, coming to the West of the United States looking for employment during the Depression.
One way that this attribute became part of his life was in the way he served the 84 widows in his congregation while he was a young bishop and for decades afterward. He said that they all asked him to speak at their funerals, assignments he was happy to accept notwithstanding heavy travel and other commitments.
Responding to a reporter’s question about the Church’s openness in working with other churches and groups, President Monson said: “We should not be sequestered in a little cage. We should eliminate the weakness of the one standing alone and substitute it with the strength of working together to make this a better world.”
“I believe in that spirit,” he said.
Both counselors acknowledged their new leader’s commitment to people.
“I’ve come to know of his goodness,” said President Eyring.
President Uchtdorf said, “I know of his heart, his soul, his commitment, his wonderful love for the people.”
It was also announced that President Boyd K. Packer, 83, is the new president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.