World Mormon Church leader Hinckley dies at 97

Gordon B Hinckley, the world leader of Mormons who presided over a period of intensive growth for the religion, died on January 27 at the age of 97, officials said.

Hinckley was ordained as the 15th president of the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in March 1995.

He travelled the world extensively and dedicated more temples than any other leader in the history of the Church.

“The president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has served as a transformational religious leader and tremendous ambassador for Utah with his unprecedented outreach to all corners of the world,” said Utah Governor John Huntsman.

As church president, Hinckley was seen as a living apostle or prophet through whom God speaks.

Mormonism is very much in discussion in the United States these days as church member and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney seeks the Republican presidential nomination.

The once-isolated group, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, is one of the fastest-growing and most affluent religions. More than half of its 12,9-million members live outside the United States, with a flourishing flock in Latin America.

Today, about 50 000 missionaries—often young men in business suits walking the world’s streets in pairs—project a wholesome, family-oriented image that has helped swell global Mormon adherents by 36% from 1995 to 2005.

In Mormon America, religion writer Richard Ostling put the church’s assets at more than $25-billion in 1999 with more than $5-billion in annual income.

Born in 1910 in Salt Lake City, Hinckley had an extensive service to his church prior to taking the top leadership position, working a two-year mission in Britain and presiding over the church’s public communications for 20 years. - Reuters

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