28 January 2008

President Hinckley's Public Legacy remembered:

I'd like to post about President Hinckley's public legacy and his contributions to the LDS Church's major global expansion.  He traveled the world much more extensively than any previous Church president, and personally dedicated more temples than anyone else.  The last time I saw him in person was at General Conference in October 2007.  Another memorable meeting with him was when I attended his 2004 meeting in São Paulo, Brazil, which was attended by about 65,000 people in a large football stadium.

I borrow the following text from today's Deseret Morning News of Salt Lake City:

President Hinckley presided over the biggest construction undertaking in church history. In the early 1990s, the church was building a chapel a day; 10 years later it was averaging almost two a day. There were also 18 missionary training centers, 434 seminary buildings and 313 Institutes of Religion.

One crowning achievement was the rebuilding of the Nauvoo Temple, for which reconstruction was announced in 1999 and was dedicated in June 2002.

(Other) Notable policy changes included:

• The replacement of regional representatives with area authorities in August 1995. Then in the April 1997 general conference, he announced that the area authorities would become Area Authority Seventies divided into the Third Quorum (Europe, Africa, Asia, Pacific), Fourth Quorum (Mexico, Central America, South America) and the Fifth Quorum (United States and Canada.) Creation of the Sixth Quorum as a division of the Fifth Quorum was announced in April 2004.

• Creation of Latter-day Saint Charities to distribute surplus goods worldwide to people in need.

• Construction of the Conference Center on the block north of Temple Square for general conferences, other church gatherings and community events. As a result, the Deseret Gym, a longtime Salt Lake landmark, was demolished. This construction also came during the renovation of I-15 in the Salt Lake Valley and the completion of the Salt Lake-Sandy TRAX light-rail line in preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympics. The Conference Center was dedicated at the October 2000 general conference.

• The announcements in the October 1997 general conference of the plan to build smaller temples, the need to fellowship new converts and that women were not obligated to serve full-time missions. The announcement of 30 more small temples in various parts of the world came in the next conference.

• The transition of Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, from a two-year college to a four-year institution on Aug. 10, 2001, renaming it BYU-Idaho and eliminating the school's intercollegiate athletic program.

• The introduction in fall 1998 of a new two-volume Church Handbook of Instructions, the first volume for unit administration and the second for priesthood and auxiliary leaders.

• Distribution of packets of LDS materials to libraries in the United States and Canada.

• Newly designed temple recommends and inclusion of a field for humanitarian donations on donation slips.

• Change of Relief Society homemaking night to a night for home, family and personal enrichment.

• Continued reconstruction and, in some cases, replacement of meetinghouses. Also, at his request, free-standing steeples alongside many meetinghouses were replaced by steeples atop meetinghouses.

• Beginning with the April 2002 general conference, the audiovisual version of conference proceedings becoming available on DVDs.

• The announcement in the April 2004 general conference that the Sunday School and Young Men general presidencies would be general church officers. Members of the Seventies had filled those positions since the October 1979 conference.

Also in late December 2000, the number of languages in which the Book of Mormon or parts of the Book of Mormon was published reached 100. The total ultimately grew to 105.

He also had roles in the celebration of Utah's statehood centennial in 1996 and the sesquicentennial of the arrival of the Mormon pioneers the next year.

Nine months after he was sustained, construction began on a new nine-story Deseret Morning News building. This building, on the southwest corner of Regent and 100 South, was dedicated about 1 1/2 years later in May 1997.

Another advancement came in the Deseret Morning News Crossroads service, through which computer users were able to receive texts of general conference talks as soon as they were put online. A church Web site was also established in December 1996.

Major curriculum changes for priesthood, Relief Society, young men, young women and Primary were implemented for 1998.

During his stewardship, President Hinckley called Elder Henry B. Eyring to fill the vacancy in the Twelve created by President Hunter's death. He also called Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elder David A. Bednar and Quentin L. Cook as apostles.

President Hinckley also called two presidents of Brigham Young University — Elder Merrill J. Bateman in 1995 replacing Rex Lee, and Elder Bateman's successor, Elder Cecil O. Samuelson, in 2003. Elder Bateman was presiding bishop when he was called and Elder Samuelson a member of the Presidency of the Seventy. It marked the first time currently serving general authorities presided over the Provo school.

He also installed Kim B. Clark, former dean of the Harvard Business School and church member, as the 15th president of BYU-Idaho in 2005.

President Hinckley was sustained as an Assistant to the Twelve April 6, 1958, and a member of the Twelve in general conference on Oct. 1, 1961. He filled the vacancy in the Twelve created when Elder Hugh B. Brown was sustained as a counselor to President David O. McKay.

(Thanks to the Deseret News for their extensive coverage!)

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