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. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 365.) President Gordon B. Hinckley, foreordained in the heavens to become the 15th president of the Church, has been reserved by the Lord for our time and our day. He is eminently qualified for this most high and holy calling.
His roots go deep in the colonization of America, as one of his forebears, Stephen Hopkins, came to America on the Mayflower. Another, Thomas Hinckley, served as governor of Plymouth Colony from 1681 to 1692. Pioneer blood courses through his veins. His grandfather, Ira Nathaniel Hinckley, obediently answered a call from President Brigham Young in 1867 to establish a fort at Cove Creek in Millard County, Utah.His parents, Bryant S. and Ada Bitner Hinckley were well-educated for their day and created an atmosphere of gospel learning and scholarship in their home in Salt Lake City. Their first child, Gordon Bitner Hinckley, was born June 23, 1910.
Always an industrious worker, President Hinckley learned the law of the harvest. His early experience on a farm purchased by his father included planting, pruning, irrigating, maintaining ditches, and harvesting. Even today his recreation includes putting on work clothes, getting a shovel in hand and working the soil, driving his old tractor, pruning, and planting flowers, bushes and trees. This work ethic has served him well, and he is known by his colleagues as a tireless worker.
The Lord has had His eye on President Hinckley from a young age. As a deacon, young Gordon attended a stake priesthood meeting with his father, who was president of the Liberty Stake. As the meeting began, the brethren began to sing with conviction "Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah! Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer." He felt the Spirit testify to him of the truthfulness of the gospel and of the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith.
He later responded to a call to serve a full-time mission in Great Britain. After five months, he was asked to be an assistant to Elder Joseph F. Merrill of the Council of the Twelve, who presided over the mission. Upon Elder Hinckley's return from his mission, he was asked to meet with the First Presidency to report on needs and conditions of the European Mission. His scheduled 15-minute appointment lasted more than an hour.
The brethren were obviously impressed with what they heard, for within a few days, President David 0. McKay called and offered him a position with the Church as secretary to the Radio, Publicity, and Mission Literature Committee, chaired by Elder Stephen L Richards and comprised of five other members of the Twelve. Thus began an illustrious career as an employee of the Church, which included pioneering the use of media in spreading the gospel and later serving as executive secretary to the General Missionary Committee, managing the day-to-day administration of the missionary program. Hehas had an office in the Church Administration Building almost continuously since 1935.
He began service on the General Sunday School Board at the age of 27 and was called as a counselor in the presidency of the East Millcreek Stake in 1946. Later he was called by Elder Harold B. Lee as president of that stake at the time of its division in 1956. His call as an Assistant to the Twelve in 1958 began his service in the full-time ministry of the Lord.
He was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve on Oct. 5, 1961. There he served for 20 years, until 1981 when President Spencer W. Kimball called him to serve as his counselor. Due to the failing health
of the then-members of the First Presidency, President Hinckley became the steady and reassuring voice in the First Presidency that the members of the Church have come to appreciate and love. He also served as first counselor to Presidents Ezra Taft Benson and Howard W. Hunter, carrying a heavy load particularly during the illnesses of
his leaders, but never getting ahead of the president. He has handled this very difficult assignment in a dignified and efficient manner.
The prophetic call now comes to him. This is a man who knows and follows the Master. He is a person of integrity and courage, never afraid to speak out on troubling and perplexing issues with directness and firmness when necessary, and always extending the hand of love and compassion toward those in difficulty.
He is viewed by religious and world leaders as a skilled communicator and a person of fairness, equity, intelligence, and deep spirituality. Church members have witnessed his leadership and prophetic insight during the past nearly 14 years as a member of the First Presidency.
The Church is in steady hands with President Hinckley at the helm, assisted ably by his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, and members of the Quorum of the Twelve. With uplifted hands and consecrated hearts we should sustain him, and "give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto [the Church] as he receiveth them. . . . For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith." (D&C 21:4-5.)