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FAQ: Passing of Mormon Prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley

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Mormon Prophet Dies

Gordon B. Hinckley, Prophet and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, passed away on Sunday evening, January 27, 2008, surrounded by loved ones. An outpouring of love and expressions of sweet sorrow enveloped the Salt Lake City environs, and extended to the islands of the sea, as a result of the death of the longest-living Prophet of our gospel dispensation. President Hinckley was pragmatic and visionary; bold and brilliant; tender and tenacious in his testimony and leadership of the Church. He was loved by those from all walks of life. He knew and followed the Savior to the very end. President Hinckley leaves behind a monument of faith, a legacy of temples dotting the globe, a trail of hope and encouragement for the world. But while he has passed through the portal of death, reunited with his beloved wife, the unbroken chain of divinely-bestowed priesthood authority remains on the earth.

What Happens When a Mormon Prophet Dies? Who's in Charge?

When a Mormon prophet dies, the priesthood keys and authority held by the First Presidency—the highest presiding council of the Church—rest within the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the second highest presiding council of the Church. The remaining counselors in the First Presidency resume their positions, in seniority, within the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which becomes the governing body of the Church until the new First Presidency is called and sustained.

After funeral services are held in honor of President Gordon B. Hinckley, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will meet in a solemn assembly, or sacred meeting, in the Salt Lake Temple to reorganize the First Presidency, in the manner prescribed by the Lord.

What Is the Order of Succession? Who Becomes the Next Prophet?

In a sacred meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Salt Lake Temple, the new President of the Church is called and unanimously sustained. This process takes place prayerfully, without pomp or posturing, through divine revelation. The newly chosen Prophet is invariably the senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. President Thomas S. Monson will be the next President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Once the Prophet is called and set apart as the President of the Church, he similarly calls his two counselors, who are ordained and set apart to their respective, sacred callings. This is the pattern which existed as the Savior organized His church and ordained his original apostles.

There is no reservation in sustaining whom the Lord appoints as his modern mouthpiece, knowing that the leader so called has been foreordained by God, that is, identified and prepared in pre-mortal life, and brought forth to serve according to the process established by Jesus Christ Himself. Individual members of the Church sustain each member of the new First Presidency in the subsequent bi-annual meeting of the Church, known as General Conference.

Who Is Thomas S. Monson?

Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor to Gordon B. Hinckley since 1995, is the senior member and presiding officer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He also served as Second Counselor in the First Presidency during the presidencies of Ezra Taft Benson and Howard W. Hunter. If tradition holds, Thomas Monson will be ordained the next prophet and president of the Church.

What Is the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles?

The Quorum of the Twelve apostles is comprised of twelve men called by the Lord Jesus Christ to bear special, personal witness to the world of His birth, atonement, and resurrection. They likewise administer in all the affairs of the worldwide organization of the Church.

These men are literally apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, special witnesses of the divine mission of the Savior. They are individually and collectively recognized as "prophets, seers, and revelators," serving unitedly to carry out the will of God during this epoch of world and Church history--known as the last dispensation.

Between the passing of President Hinckley and the reorganization of the First Presidency (January 27 to February 3, 2008), the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were as follows:

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