Funeral of President Thomas S. Monson Honors “a Mighty Prophet of God”

Contributed By Sarah Jane Weaver, Church News editor

  • 12 January 2018

President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaks at the funeral services for President Thomas S. Monson on Friday, January 12, 2018, in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

Article Highlights

  • Joy comes from loving the Lord and serving your neighbor.

“In a world now saturated with ‘selfies,’ [President Monson] modeled selflessness. … He gave his own time to visit, bless and love others. … Even in his waning season, he continued to minister, making frequent visits to hospitals and senior centers.” —President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

President Thomas S. Monson “influenced the lives and shaped the destiny” of millions of people around the world, said speakers paying tribute to the “mighty prophet of God” during a public funeral on Friday, January 12.

“We are all better because of him,“ said President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. ”And the Church is better because of him.”

President Nelson joined President Monson’s counselors in the First Presidency—President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf—and his daughter, Sister Ann M. Dibb, in paying tribute to the 16th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the hour-long funeral.

Thousands gathered in the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City for the funeral, which was translated and broadcast across the globe.

President Monson, 90, died peacefully Tuesday, January 2, of causes incident to age, after serving 54 years as an Apostle, including a decade as President of the Church.

President Thomas S. Monson.

Program cover for the funeral services of President Thomas S. Monson, January 12, 2018. Photo by Sarah Jane Weaver.

“President Monson lived a remarkable life,” said President Nelson. “There will never be another like him.”

President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaks at the funeral services for President Thomas S. Monson on Friday, January 12, 2018, in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

Speaking of his global influence, President Nelson said President Monson leaves a legacy of growth. Since his ordination as an Apostle in 1963, Church membership has risen from 2.1 million to nearly 16 million. The number of currently serving missionaries has grown from 5,700, to nearly 70,000. And temples—then only 12 in number—now number 159.

“But with all of this, President Monson constantly focused on the individual,” said President Nelson. “He reminded us with his expressions such as: ‘Send a note to the friend you’ve been neglecting’; ‘Give your child a hug’; ‘Say “I love you” more often’; ‘Always express your thanks’; and ‘Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved.’”

President Nelson said President Monson never sought the limelight. “In a world now saturated with ‘selfies,’ he modeled selflessness. … He gave his own time to visit, bless, and love others, as has been so well explained today. Even in his waning season, he continued to minister, making frequent visits to hospitals and senior centers.”

President Nelson said that in 1985 he was given responsibility for the Church in Europe, an assignment President Monson held for many years. “I was his junior companion in much of that challenging work.”

In 1988, the pair traveled with a small delegation of local Church leaders to the city of East Berlin in the German Democratic Republic. “In this country that had been closed to missionary work for more than 50 years, we felt impressed to ask permission for missionaries to serve there. We also asked for permission for worthy elders from that country to have opportunity to serve the Lord elsewhere as missionaries.”

The critical meeting, held October 28, 1988, included Erich Honecker, chairman of the council of state for the German Democratic Republic, and his staff. He started with a long speech about the merits of communism.

“Then, under the flashing of countless cameras, President Monson was invited to speak,” recalled President Nelson. “He boldly but kindly presented his message of how and why our missionaries would be good for that country.

“After President Monson’s plea, all awaited Chairman Honecker’s response. I was breathless with anxiety. I will never forget Chairman Honecker’s reply: ‘President Monson, we know you! We have watched you for many years! We trust you! Your request regarding missionaries is approved!’”

During his remarks, President Henry B. Eyring spoke of the millions across the world who share the loss of President Monson. “He was loved by those who knew him from his stirring and inspiring talks and his leadership,” President Eyring said. “The number of individuals who loved him through his personal kindnesses is known only to the God who sent him to care for them.”

President Henry B. Eyring, President Thomas S. Monson’s First Counselor in the First Presidency, speaks at the funeral services for President Monson on Friday, January 12, 2018, in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

Caring for others happened often in the ministry of President Monson, President Eyring said. “He would go to visit someone in need, feel while he was there an impression to go to another person, and then to another,” he said. “More than a few times, such a person said, ‘I knew you would come.’ He or she may have known, the Lord may have known, but President Monson didn’t know when he started out. However, those who knew he would come also knew that God loved them enough to send His servant. They felt the love of God through President Monson’s kindness to them.”

In the Lord’s service over a lifetime, President Monson cared for those in temporal and spiritual need, said President Eyring. “When he called on the Lord in prayer, the Lord answered. And to Thomas Monson came the assurance that the Lord was there.”

President Monson often quoted the promise that the Lord would be with His children in their faithful service.

“Because he knew that promise was a reality, President Monson was optimistic,” said President Eyring. “It also made him courageous. When he had to make difficult and important choices, he expected the Lord would answer his prayer and show him the way to go. When he was called to go into what appeared to be dangerous or perilous situations, others might be afraid, yet he felt no fear.”

Through the ministration of angels to Joseph Smith, the prophet of the Restoration, the full priesthood keys were restored, said President Eyring. “Those keys were passed in an unbroken line to President Monson. They included the power to seal families together for all eternity. … President and Sister Monson were sealed by that power. I pray a blessing on all their posterity that they may have the assurance that the Lord watches over them and that they may anticipate a glorious and eternal family reunion.”

During his remarks, President Uchtdorf said at this tender time, feelings and thoughts run deep and “words are inadequate to express my love, gratitude, and sorrow.”

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, President Thomas S. Monson’s Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, speaks at the funeral services for President Monson on Friday, January 12, 2018, in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

“Thomas S. Monson was a man for all seasons, truly a spiritual giant,” said President Uchtdorf. “He abounded in knowledge, faith, love, vision, testimony, courage, and compassion—leading and serving never from a pedestal, but always eye to eye. He had a special place in his heart for the poor and the needy.

“We will miss his voice, his steadiness, his confidence in the Lord, his smile, his wit, his enthusiasm, his optimism, and his stories, which I consider parables of a modern prophet of God.”

Germany and its people were especially blessed by President Monson, said President Uchtdorf, speaking of his native land. “His strong faith helped to stretch ours during the Cold War years. He not only brought suitcases filled with clothes and other things for the members in East Germany, but his powerful apostolic prayer given in 1975 promised unthinkable spiritual blessings.”

President Uchtdorf recalled a visit to Hamburg, Germany, when President Monson asked about a stalwart pioneer member of the Church in the country, who was bedridden and unable to attend the meeting.

Despite having just undergone foot surgery, President Monson climbed to the fifth floor in a building without an elevator to make the visit. “It was a very painful climb for President Monson, but he cheerfully went on,” said President Uchtdorf. “We reached the bedridden brother, and President Monson gave him a wonderful priesthood blessing, thanked him for his life of dedicated service, and cheered him up with a smile.”

President Uchtdorf said serving as a counselor to President Monson was “a most satisfying and spiritually rewarding experience,” which included “happiness and heartache, laughter and sorrow, deep conversations, and many inspired prophetic moments.”

Recently, as President Eyring and President Uchtdorf were about to leave after a visit in the prophet’s home, President Monson stopped them and said, “I love the Savior Jesus Christ. And I know that He loves me.”

“What a tender and powerful testimony by a prophet of God,” said President Uchtdorf. “President Monson was truly a prophet for our time. He was a man for all seasons.”

During her remarks, Sister Dibb—a former counselor in the Young Women General Presidency—said she is profoundly grateful for her father and the legacy he created—a legacy of love and service.

Sister Ann M. Dibb, daughter of President Thomas S. Monson, speaks at his funeral in the Conference Center on Friday, January 12, 2018.

“Although he was a prophet, my father knew he was not perfect,” said Sister Dibb. “With all his heart, he humbly relied on and tried to be like our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Sister Dibb said about a year ago, her father was working at his office. A copy of the Ensign magazine was open to a display of his picture. “My father pointed to the picture and said, ‘I know that guy. He tried his best.’”

“President Monson, by simply ‘trying his best,’ left an unforgettable legacy of love,” said Sister Dibb. “He loved the Lord and he loved people. He saw our potential and believed sincerely in our ability to change and progress through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”

She said her father loved his parents, siblings, and extended family. “He loved his dear eternal companion—his beautiful, quiet, faithful supporter and enabler—Frances. He loved his family and each of his eastern Canadian missionaries. He especially loved his grandchildren.”

Complete strangers also felt President Monson’s love, she said. “Once, while visiting a local nursing care facility, he shook the hand of a man in a wheelchair. The man looked up and timidly said, ‘President Monson, you have shaken my hand, but I need an embrace.’ Without hesitation, Dad bent down and tenderly embraced this dear man.”

Sister Dibb said her father’s desire to serve others often went beyond his capacity to do so, considering his many responsibilities. “Undaunted, he found a solution: he’d enlist others to provide the needed service on his behalf.”

She told the congregation that they can carry on her father’s legacy by serving others. “Watching him, I realized my dad knew how to obtain true joy,” she said. “Through his devoted service, he had learned that joy comes from loving the Lord and serving your neighbor. This joy is available to each of us.”

President Monson’s sons also participated in the service: Clark S. Monson offered the family prayer, and Thomas L. Monson dedicated his father’s grave in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland—both of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—offered the opening and closing prayers during the funeral.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir provided music during the services, performing “Consider the Lilies,” “O Divine Redeemer,” “Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd,”and “If the Way Be Full of Trial, Weary Not.” Mack Wilberg and Ryan Murphy conducted the choir, with Richard Elliott, Clay Christiansen, and Andrew Unsworth on the organ.

On the back of the funeral program, President Monson’s family printed the words of a scripture that had great significance to his life and service: “[He] went about doing good, and … God was with him” (Acts 10:38).

The Utah State flag is flown at half-mast at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City honoring President Thomas S. Monson on Friday, January 12, 2018.

The casket of President Thomas S. Monson at funeral services held in the Conference Center January 12, 2018.

Members of President Thomas S. Monson’s family arrive at the Conference Center for President Monson’s funeral in Salt Lake City on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

President Thomas S. Monson’s casket is brought into the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

President Thomas S. Monson’s casket is brought into the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles walk to their seats after President Thomas S. Monson’s casket is brought into the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

People line up for President Thomas S. Monson’s funeral outside of the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

People line up for President Thomas S. Monson’s funeral outside of the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

Imam Muhammed Mehtar, of the Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake, arrives at President Thomas S. Monson’s funeral outside of the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings at the beginning of the funeral for President Thomas S. Monson at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Mourners listen during President Thomas S. Monson’s funeral at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Spenser Heaps, Deseret News.

President Henry B. Eyring, President Thomas S. Monson’s First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, speaks at the funeral services for President Monson on Friday, January 12, 2018, in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, President Thomas S. Monson’s Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, speaks at the funeral services for President Monson on Friday, January 12, 2018, in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.

The daughter of President Thomas S. Monson, Sister Ann M. Dibb, speaks at his funeral in the Conference Center on Friday, January 12, 2018.

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir provides the music during the funeral services of President Thomas S. Monson, January 12, 2018.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks, center, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, reaches out to touch President Russell M. Nelson’s arm before President Nelson spoke at President Thomas S. Monson’s funeral at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, January 12, 2018. At left is Elder M. Russell Ballard. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Thomas S. Monson’s casket is taken out of the Conference Center following the funeral on Friday, January 12, 2018.

A motorcade escorts President Thomas S. Monson’s casket to the Salt Lake City Cemetery in Salt Lake City on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

A motorcade escorts President Thomas S. Monson’s casket to the Salt Lake City Cemetery in Salt Lake City on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

Mourners watch as the funeral procession for President Thomas S. Monson makes its way to the Salt Lake City Cemetery on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

Mourners and Boy Scouts line South Temple as the funeral procession for President Thomas S. Monson makes its way to the Salt Lake City Cemetery on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gives a thumbs-up sign to Boy Scouts as the funeral procession for President Thomas S. Monson makes its way to the Salt Lake City Cemetery on Friday, January 12, 2018. President Uchtdorf was a counselor to President Monson. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

Troop leader Mike Brady holds back tears as he and members of Boy Scout Troop 747 in West Jordan salute as the funeral procession for President Thomas S. Monson makes its way to the Salt Lake City Cemetery on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

A motorcade escorts President Thomas S. Monson’s casket to the Salt Lake City Cemetery in Salt Lake City on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

Troop leader Mike Brady weeps as he and members of Boy Scout Troop 747 in West Jordan salute as the funeral procession for President Thomas S. Monson makes its way to the Salt Lake City Cemetery on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

 

The funeral procession for President Thomas S. Monson makes its way to the Salt Lake City Cemetery on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

A motorcade escorts President Thomas S. Monson’s casket to the Salt Lake City Cemetery in Salt Lake City on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

A motorcade escorts President Thomas S. Monson’s casket to the Salt Lake City Cemetery in Salt Lake City on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

President Thomas S. Monson’s casket is moved from a hearse to the gravesite at the Salt Lake City Cemetery on Friday, January 12, 2018. President Monson was buried next to his wife, Frances.

President Thomas S. Monson’s casket is moved from a hearse to the gravesite at the Salt Lake City Cemetery on Friday, January 12, 2018. President Monson was buried next to his wife, Frances.

Family members and members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gather for graveside services for President Thomas S. Monson at the Salt Lake City cemetery on Friday, January 12, 2018. Photo by Scott G Winterton, Deseret News.

President Henry B. Eyring, who served as a counselor to President Thomas S. Monson, conducts the graveside service for President Monson at the Salt Lake City Cemetery on Friday, January 12, 2018.

Family, friends, and colleagues gather for President Thomas S. Monson’s graveside service at the Salt Lake City Cemetery, Friday, January 12, 2018.

Thomas L. Monson, son of President Thomas S. Monson, offers a prayer of dedication for the final resting spot of his father at the Salt Lake City Cemetery on Friday, January 12, 2018.

Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles attend President Thomas S. Monson’s graveside service at the Salt Lake City Cemetery, Friday, January 12, 2018.

Family, friends, and colleagues gather for President Thomas S. Monson’s graveside service at the Salt Lake City Cemetery, Friday, January 12, 2018.