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A Very Personal Post

January 3, 2018

Thomas S Monson died yesterday. If you are not a member of the LDS Church (the Mormons) or you don’t live in Utah, you probably don’t know who he was. Or maybe you’ve heard the name. Or maybe, you know exactly who he was. In any case, I’m going to spend a few minutes talking about him.

He was the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. But, to Mormons, he was more than that. We (because I just can’t write this in the third person “they”,) we believe him to be a prophet of God. Yes, a prophet like Moses, or Noah, or Abraham, or any of those guys in the Old (and some in the New) Testement.

He was 90 years old. He’s been the president of the church for about ten years. Before that, he was a member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles. Yes, those crazy Mormons believe in both modern day prophets and apostles.

He’s been involved in running the church since he was in his early thirties. Most Mormon leaders at the local level are volunteers. If you attend services at a Mormon chapel on Sunday everyone from the person leading the music, to the people speaking at the pulpit, to the surprisingly young men preparing the sacrament are unpaid. They all have regular jobs that they work at in addition to serving in the church. (Well, except those young men are probably in school.) Those missionaries you see out on their bicycles in the white shirts and ties are also volunteers.

People at the higher levels of the LDS church get a stipend. They are expected to leave their chosen professions and serve the church exclusively. In turn the church gives them money enough to live on. But, many of them simply retire from business and service in the church is how they spend their retirement.

Apostles and prophets are called to the position. No one, even at the local levels, truly volunteers. It’s not until they are asked that people have the opportunity to accept a “calling” in the church.

President Monson, as he’s known to millions of Mormons worldwide, was a man that affected me deeply. In addition to drawing spiritual inspiration from his life and example, he was a scouter. He’s been on the National Board for the Boy Scouts of America for over 50 years. I believe he was the longest serving board member in history.

Scouting is a huge part of my life. It was one of the first activities I enjoyed as a new member of the LDS Church back in 1976. I went on to serve a lifetime in scouting and have been proud to see my five sons follow in my footsteps. President Monson was the scouting program in the church.

Over the past couple of years the boy scouts and the LDS church have drifted further apart. President Monson’s passing will likely accelerate that split.

President Monson was the 16th president of the LDS Church since Joseph Smith founded the church in 1830. The mantel of leadership will pass to another person. Most likely a man named Russell M Nelson. He’s the senior apostle and while it’s not spelled out in doctrine the church policy has been that the senior apostle becomes the president upon the death of his predecessor.

You might extend an offer of condolances to your Mormon friends today. We loved President Monson and will miss him.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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One Comment
  1. Wonderful highlights from the life of our Prophet! Thank you for sharing.

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