SALT LAKE CITY — People around the world reacted to news of the death of LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson on social media and other outlets Wednesday morning.
Many remembered him for his love and service. Monson, who served as LDS Church President for nearly 10 years, was named a member of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1963.
Prior to that, he served in the U.S. Naval Reserve, became an LDS bishop when he was 22, a counselor in the stake presidency at age 27, and an LDS mission president in Canada when he was 31, according to the LDS Church.
"His far-reaching and multi-faceted ministry touched the lives of people from all walks of life in remarkable ways. As a result, President Monson’s legacy will continue to be an influence for good in the lives of countless individuals and families for generations to come," wrote members of the First Presidency of the LDS Church, in a joint statement. "To his family, we extend our most sincere condolences and love.”
Members of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles also issued a joint statement, noting that President Monson lived "an exceptional life of service."
"From his earliest days of Church service to the very end of his faithful ministry, he never failed to bear witness, in word and deed, of the truth of the restored gospel and of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ," the quorum said in the statement. "We will miss his wisdom, his leadership, his meaningful example, and his loving kindness. However, we rejoice in his reunion with his beloved Frances, with other family members who have gone before, and with the prophets of God who preceded him in death, with whom he now stands."
U.S. President Donald Trump issued a statement Wednesday afternoon mourning Monson's death.
"While serving for over half a century in the leadership of his church, President Monson demonstrated wisdom, inspired leadership, and great compassion. Considered a prophet by the nearly 16 million members of the LDS Church, his message was one of optimism, forgiveness, and faith," the statement read. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his three children and the rest of the Monson family."
Reaction from current, former local political leaders
Many local and state leaders reacted on social media.
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch recalled Monson as "among the greatest men I have ever known."
"Service was his motto and humility his hallmark. Countless were the lives he touched as a prophet, father, and friend," he tweeted in a statement.
Others also reflected on Monson's service.
"As a young child, I loved President Monson’s inspirational stories of service and love. As an adult, I admire and try to follow President Monson’s example of giving compassionate service and caring for others," said Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, in a statement. "He was never too busy to give personal time and comfort to the people he served."
Several leaders from other states also chimed in, sending their condolences to the Monson family and mourning Monson's death.
Reaction from other religious leaders
While members of the LDS Church mourn the death of its presidents, leaders from other religions also reacted Wednesday.
The American Jewish Committee issued a statement mourning Monson's death.
“Under Thomas Monson’s leadership, AJC and the LDS Church deepened a mutual relationship, focusing on complex religious liberty issues, humanitarian disaster relief, sustaining religious identity, support for the State of Israel, and other shared concerns,” said Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, in a statement. “Significantly, President Monson led the church in renewing in 2012 its commitment to prevent posthumous proxy baptisms of Holocaust victims and other well-known Jews.”
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, also extended his condolences to members of the LDS Church.
"During his tenure as president, understanding and friendship developed between our two communities on national and local levels," DiNardo said in a statement. "As we engage important questions on family and the dignity of the human person, Catholics and Mormons work together and support each other. Today, Catholics join their Latter-day Saints brothers and sisters in commending his soul to the mercy and love of God."
Rt. Rev. Scott B. Hayashi, of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah, called Monson a "kind person" with a calming voice and had an ability to reach out to other faiths.
"I will always appreciate the LDS Church’s generous dedication to interfaith ministries under his presidency and throughout his many years of devoted service," he said in a statement. "I call upon the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Utah to join with me in prayer for President Monson’s family and the good people of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
In addition, Rajan Zed, President of Universal Society of Hinduism, said Monson was "a great humanitarian who collaborated with other religions/denominations worldwide on programs aimed at improving the human condition."
Local universities react
President Monson attended both the University of Utah and Brigham Young University and both universities mourned Monson's death Wednesday. He was also a former faculty member at the University of Utah.
Monson also spoke at Southern Utah University's 2009 commencement ceremony. The university also extended its condolences to Monson's family.
Flags at Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City have lowered to half-staff in memory of President Monson.
Those who were on Temple Square Wednesday morning were also surprised by the news.
"We were pretty shocked actually," said Katelyn Shumway, who was at Temple Square Wednesday morning. "We heard his health was slowly declining but we were pretty surprised because we were on a plane and we just got off and it's pretty tragic to hear."
Larry Waybill, also at Temple Square, said, "I'm pretty sure he'll be remembered. My coworkers and I were talking about how he had gone through the media and really expanded the church through there. I think it's a neat experience to do it through Facebook, through Instagram, any way that's possible."
The Utah Jazz announced it will have a moment of silence in tribute to President Monson before its game against New Orleans Wednesday night. The team, in a statement, called Monson a "loyal fan" and thanked him for his public service.
"He was an example of pure service, always looking after those in need, including our family as he provided comfort by visiting Larry (Miller), another West High boy, many times during his long illness. We are honored to have had a close relationship with him and will miss him," the team said in a statement.
Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP Salt Lake Branch said in a statement Wednesday morning.
President Monson always greeted her with a warm smile and handshake whenever he saw her, and called her by name as they talked about working together to benefit the community, Williams recalled.
Utah Rep. Rob Bishop said in a statement, “President Monson’s service to Utah, the LDS church, and the world is without equal. He will be greatly missed, and his influence will be felt for generations to come. I am heartened by the belief that his passing leads to a divine reunion with his wife, Frances. My thoughts today are with his family and the millions throughout the world in mourning.”
Utah Speaker of the House Greg Hughes released a statement that said in part, "While we mourn the loss of an exceptional man, we also honor his remarkable life that he dedicated to serving others. When he spoke, people all over Utah, the country and the world listened. He truly understood that when you are in the service of your fellow man you are in the service of God."
Utah attorney general Sean Reyes added sentiments about Monson's service.
"I love President Thomas S. Monson, and I will miss him. Throughout my life, he has been an example of selfless service and visionary leadership," Reyes said in a statement. "When I was a young leader of a Latter-day Saint congregation, I looked to President Monson for inspiration and was blessed by his example, and I have continued to look to him for spiritual guidance."
Contributing: Carter Williams, Linda Williams, Ladd Egan
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