Prophet's Commitment to Savior Unchanged after 50 Years
Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer
Before the opening session of the 133rd Semiannual General Conference 50 years ago, a young father of three found a seat in the audience of the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Moments later, he would be called and sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve.
The new Apostle, Elder Thomas S. Monson, was just 36 years old. His oldest child was but a deacon. But Elder Monson was no greenhorn. He had already served as a bishop (called at age 22) and as a counselor in a stake presidency. He had presided over the Canadian Mission and was well known and respected throughout the Utah business community as a savvy manager and administrator.
That historic general conference introduced members of the Church worldwide to Thomas S. Monson. Over the past half-century, he has become a familiar and beloved leader to members across the globe. His many general conference talks—typically rich with wisdom, warmth, and his trademark humor—have inspired millions. After more than two decades of service in the Quorum of the Twelve, he was called to the First Presidency and, in 2008, as the Church’s 16th President.
When he spoke to a general conference audience for the first time on October 4, 1963, he expressed an “overwhelming sense of inadequacy” even as he accepted his new call. “Some years ago, I stood at a pulpit and noticed a little sign that only the speaker could see, and the words on that sign were these: ‘Who stands at this pulpit, let him be humble.’ How I pray to my Heavenly Father that I might never forget the lesson I learned that day!”
Elder Monson also used his maiden conference address to give thanks. He expressed gratitude for his parents and the many teachers and priesthood leaders who had influenced his life. He then paid tribute to his wife, Sister Frances J. Monson.
“I am grateful for my sweet companion and for the influence for good which she had upon my life.”
Sister Monson would prove to be her General Authority husband’s most loyal, faithful supporter until the time of her death earlier this year.
He also shared a testimony that would define his many subsequent general conference talks: “I know that God lives, my brothers and sisters. There is no question in my mind. I know that this is His work.”