President of Mormon church, Thomas S Monson dies, aged 90

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Associated Press

For more than 50 years, Thomas S. Monson served in top leadership councils for the Mormon church — making him a well-known face and personality to multiple generations of Mormons.

FILE - In this April 2, 2016, file photo, President Thomas S. Monson, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, raises his hand during a sustaining vote at the two-day Mormon church conference, in Salt Lake City. Monson, the 16th president of the Mormon church, has died after nine years in office. He was 90. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

President Thomas S. Monson, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, pictured in 2016.

Source: Associated Press

A church bishop at the age of 22, the Salt Lake City native became the youngest church apostle ever in 1963 at the age of 36.

He served as a counsellor for three church presidents before assuming the role of the top leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in February 2008.

Yesterday, 90-year-old Monson died at his home in Salt Lake City, according to church spokesman Eric Hawkins.

As president of the nearly 16-million member religion, Monson was considered a prophet who led the church through revelation from God in collaboration with two top counsellors and members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

The next president was not immediately named, but the job is expected to go to the next longest-tenured member of the church's governing Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Russell M. Nelson, per church protocol.

Monson's presidency was marked by his noticeably low profile during a time of intense publicity for the church, including the 2008 and 2012 campaigns of Mormon Mitt Romney for President. Monson's most public acts were appearances at church conferences and devotionals as well as dedications of church temples.

Monson will also be remembered for his emphasis on humanitarian work; leading the faith's involvement in the passage of gay marriage ban in California in 2008; continuing the religion's push to be more transparent about its past; and lowering the minimum age for missionaries.

Mormons considered Monson a warm, caring, endearing and approachable leader, said Patrick Mason, associate professor of religion at Claremont Graduate University in California.

He was known for dropping everything to make hospital visits to people in need. His speeches at the faith's twice-yearly conferences often focused on parables of human struggles resolved through faith.

He put an emphasis on the humanitarian ethic of Mormons, evidenced by his expansion of the church's disaster relief programs around the world, said Armand Mauss, a retired professor of sociology and religious studies at Washington State University.

Like his predecessors, Monson travelled the world, visiting countless countries to give speeches, dedicate temples and preach to Latter-day Saints. Under his watch, 27 new temples were planned or built.

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