My brothers and sisters, this has been a historic and blessed day. As I have witnessed the inspired manner in which President Gordon B. Hinckley fulfilled his calling as a counselor to Presidents Spencer W. Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, and finally to Howard W. Hunter—during their periods of declining health—I rejoice with you in sustaining him as God’s anointed prophet.
With all the inspiration and love that I possess, I testify that Gordon B. Hinckley was foreordained to become the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; to be the mouthpiece of God on the earth at this time; and to lead God’s people as prophet, seer, and revelator.
President Hinckley’s calling Thomas S. Monson to continue in his effective administration in the First Presidency, now as First Counselor, and James E. Faust’s call as Second Counselor, is inspired.
President Monson has demonstrated an unusual ability to lead and inspire others—whether members of this church or other non-Church organizations—in their desire to serve the Master. As a newly called Assistant to the Council of the Twelve Apostles twenty-five years ago, my assignments were chaired by then Elder Thomas S. Monson. He was my kind but effective teacher—schooling me in a more clear understanding of the worldwide mission of the Church and the duties and blessings available to a newly called servant of God. He was most effective and kind to me.
President James E. Faust has impressed me not only with his abilities, experience, and knowledge of this divine work, but as a valued friend and adviser sitting next to me in our council meetings for these many years. He is gifted with an abundance of wisdom and uncommon spiritual direction and discernment that will be a blessing to the Church.
These words of the prophet Alma are most appropriate at this time:
“And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; … therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling” (Alma 13:3).
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was.” The Prophet Joseph continued, “I suppose I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 365).
President Gordon B. Hinckley now wears the mantle given to the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was foreordained to this high and holy calling in premortal councils.
Those of us who sit at the feet of President Hinckley, President Monson, and President Faust marvel at their wisdom, understanding, and protection of sacred matters. God’s hand directs this work. He prepares His servants. He knows their hearts. He knows the end from the beginning and raises up those servants who will carry out His designs.
These are able, humble leaders, called by God to preside over His earthly kingdom in these last days. They are true and faithful servants, tested and refined by extreme circumstances. They are teachers and preachers of righteousness, examples to the world of goodness and obedience to God’s commandments. We all would do well—for ourselves and our posterity—to heed their counsel.
As an early Apostle, Elder Orson Hyde, said: “It is invariably the case, that when an individual is ordained and appointed to lead the people, he has passed through tribulations and trials, and has proven himself before God, and before His people, that he is worthy of the [position] which he holds. … Some one that understands the Spirit and counsel of the Almighty … is the [one] that will lead the Church” (in Journal of Discourses, 1:123).
No man better understands the Church, nor is better known to the members of the Church, than President Gordon B. Hinckley.
On April 6, 1830—the date of the organization of Christ’s restored church (165 years ago this week)—Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery were sustained as the presiding officers of the Church. Called of God, Joseph was designated by revelation to be a seer, translator, prophet, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, through the will of God the Father and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (see D&C 20:1–2; D&C 21:1). The Lord instructed the small group of faithful Saints:
“Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
“For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
“… Him have I inspired to move the cause of Zion in mighty power for good, and his diligence I know, and his prayers I have heard” (D&C 21:4–5, 7).
This revelation given to the Prophet Joseph is relevant for each prophet and President of the Church as well as the members of the Church for all of us to heed.
I testify that President Gordon B. Hinckley has been carefully prepared for this divine calling from before the foundations of the earth in heavenly councils.
He was born into a family of faith, devoted people, devoted to the precious truths of salvation as contained in the holy scriptures and the revelations received by the Prophet Joseph Smith. His parents set lofty examples and taught him how to work and to finish a task, which inspired him to attain a good education and a desire to serve mankind.
He accepted the challenges of missionary work and gained the blessings of sharing the gospel with others when called as a missionary to England.
New talents were developed as he assisted his mission president in London in developing Church publicity for the media and for the members of the Church and for the world. That interest has continued throughout his years and continues on, of course, to the present day.
His responsibilities in the Church missionary program added new methods and opportunities to proclaim gospel principles, and he was instrumental in expanding missionary work, particularly throughout the vast, teeming Orient in a most remarkable way.
He has participated in the dedication and rededication of more temples than any other presiding officer in the Church. That is not only indicative of his love for temple work, but reflects the necessity for us to be actively involved in the work of redeeming our deceased ancestors.
President Hinckley’s marriage to his sweetheart, Marjorie Pay, added spiritual strength and increased desire to advance our Lord’s work. She has been a most inspiring companion for nearly fifty-eight years.
President Hinckley is not only a man for all seasons—but for all the world!
He has usually been our spokesman in meeting representatives of governments and major worldwide organizations who come to pay their respects and honor to the Church.
At a recent civic dinner honoring President Hinckley, the master of ceremonies said of him: “It is understandable that [members of the Church] worldwide always express their affection for you. All of us [here] hope the honor, tribute and love expressed this evening … from [those of] diverse churches and creeds will imbue you and yours with special fond memories to help comfort and inspire you for a lifetime” (Dr. Nick S. Vidalakis, annual dinner of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, 21 Feb. 1995).
The brief but inspired administration of President Howard W. Hunter has come to a close. He loved the Lord and His work—and we know that the Lord loved him. President Hunter taught us how to be more gentle, kinder, and more caring, and more worthy in our pursuit to become more Christlike.
And we now begin a new era of Church administration under President Gordon B. Hinckley—beloved by all—our fifteenth President since the restoration of the Church in 1830.
In the prescribed manner we have accepted and sustained him. Through him—as has been done through prophets of old—revelation will be made available to us to meet the challenges of a modern society and advance the mission of the Church throughout the world.
And these revelations will be made available as appropriate, as we have seen demonstrated here this day by the calling of Henry B. Eyring to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, to be an Apostle of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
This work is true. It will move forward to carry out all the divine plans of our Heavenly Father. I bear you this witness on this sacred day in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, amen.