Thomas S. Monson will serve the rest of his life as the president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Saints.
At a press conference late Monday morning, the nearly 13 million-member worldwide church announced that its Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had unanimously chosen Monson, 80, its longest serving apostle, to become the 16th president of the church founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith in New York.
He succeeds President Gordon B. Hinckley, who died Jan. 27 at age 97 after nearly 13 years as the church’s leader. His funeral was Saturday in Salt Lake City, headquarters of the church.
Monson is the youngest to become president of the church in a quarter century.
On Monday, the Quorum did not break its tradition for succession, choosing its senior apostle for the role, which presidents serve until their deaths.
Joining Monson in the three-man First Presidency, or highest level of authority in the church, will be Henry Eyring, 74, as first counselor, an apostle since April 6, 1995, and German-born Dieter Uchtdorf, 67, as the Second Counselor, sustained as an apostle in Oct. 7, 2004. Eyring had been second counselor to Hinckley since last October, following the death of James Faust.
Together, the three will act as the highest level of authority in guiding the church. In the past, generally, the longest serving apostles have been called to the first and second counselor positions.
Monson was first named an apostle Oct. 4, 1963. Like Hinckley, Monson was born and reared in Salt Lake City.
Born Aug. 21, 1927, Monson graduated cum laude from the University of Utah in business management and received his MBA degree from Brigham Young University. He served in the U.S. Navy at the close of World War II. He was ordained a bishop in the church at 22 and served in the presidency of the Tempe View Stake in Salt Lake City. Before being called as a General Authority, he was general manager of Deseret Press. He joined the Deseret News in 1948 as an advertising executive and was the chairman of the Deseret News board for 19 years. The newspaper is owned by the Mormon Church.
Monson was just 36 when he was sustained as an apostle in the Quorum of the Twelve some 44 years ago. He was set apart as first counselor to Hinckley on March 12, 1995. He previously was second counselor to President Howard Hunter and second counselor to President Ezra Taft Benson.
He was called as president of the Canadian Mission in 1959. He and his wife, Frances, have three children, eight grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.
The presidency succession process follows a timeworn church procedure whereby the First Presidency is dissolved when the president dies and the two counselors return to the Quorum of the 12, for what is then 14 men, with the senior apostle assuming temporary church leadership. The apostles meet and determine whether to reorganize the First Presidency. If a motion to reorganize passes, then a unanimous decision is needed on who will be the president and prophet. The new president then chooses his first and second counselors from the Quorum. In a formal laying-on of hands, the apostles bless their new president.