By Steven E. White

Thomas S. Monson, the Prophet and President of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-Day Saints, died Tuesday night, the 2nd of January. He passed during his 90th year, in his Salt Lake home, surrounded by family.

Monson spent 54 years as a general authority for the church, 32 of those years in the First Presidency; then completed the final ten years of his mortal ministry serving as the head prophet. The church grew to almost 16 million during his service, the majority of members living outside the United States. Thomas began his prophetic ministry February 3, 2008, after the passing of Spencer W. Kimball. Russell M. Nelson, the current presiding head of the Quorum of the Twelve, is expected to take Monson’s place, as President of the Mormon church.

One of the major changes to the church during Monson’s ministry, was the age change for men and women to be able to serve missions; lowering men’s age requirement from 19 to 18, and women’s from 21 to 19. The following year, 2013, saw a massive influx of new missionaries, eager to rise to the call to serve.

Monson was often described as a man of the people, always ‘on the Lord’s errand’. He was well known for making personal visits to those who were sick in their homes, or at their hospital beds. He’d take the time to make a phone call, or simply check in on someone he felt prompted to. “His name forever will be linked to compassionate endeavors, service to others,” The church said in a tribute on its website. Frances Johnson Monson (1927-2013) stated in a 1998 conversation, that she’d seen her husband “work himself nearly to exhaustion as he has gone about blessing the lives of those in need”

Monson was asked on his 81st birthday, what he would consider the ideal gift that members worldwide could give him. He responded without hesitation, “Do something for someone else on that day to make his or her life better. Find someone who is having a hard time, or is ill, or lonely, and do something for them. That’s all I would ask” Monson always seemed more interested in what people do with their religion, rather than what they believe.

He was viewed as the steady hand of the church, as it came under fire during of the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney, who is LDS. Despite the scrutiny he may have caused, Mitt Romney spoke with great respect and sincerity, on twitter, stating on Wednesday, “Thomas S. Monson walked where Jesus walked, lifting the downtrodden, comforting the wounded, healing the sick, brightening the lives of the lonely at heart. More even than his words of strength and inspiration, he will be remembered for the abundance of his love and the overflowing of his compassion for every one of God’s children. Ann and I and our family join the widows and orphans and homeless and countless others who today mourn the life of a true prophet of God and apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Trump also stated on twitter, having met with church authorities the previous month, “Melania and I are deeply saddened by the death of Thomas S. Monson, a beloved President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…”

It appears that Thomas S. Monson, simply, was a leader among millions of members who mourned his death; he was a loving, outstretched hand, and a caring friend, to all he met.