Twenty years ago, March 12th, Gordon B. Hinckley was ordained as the 15th President of the Church. During the nearly thirteen years he served in that position, he left an indelible mark on the Church and on our hearts. Here are 20 of his most monumental legacies.
1. The New Church Logo
In 1995, the Church released its current logo design, empasizing Jesus Christ as the center of our theology. In connection with this effort, the Church sent a press release asking media agencies to use the full name of the the Church in 2001.
2. Reaching out to the World
In 1996, President Hinckley appeared on 60 Minutes, resulting in a life long friendship with Mike Wallace. In 2004, George W. Bush presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, on his 94th birthday. Upon his death, he was honored by President Bush and several Congressmen on the Congress floor.
3. Temple Building
During his 13 years as President, the number of temples increased from 47 to 124 (with an additional 13 under construction at his death). President Gordon B. Hinckley loved to travel and be among the Saints and temple dedications were just one item on his extensive travel agenda that took him 1 million miles to 160 nations.
4. Ward Missionaries
In 2002, Stake Missions were disbanded and the responsibilities for missionary work, activation and retention were moved to the ward level under the Bishop, ward mission leader, and ward missionaries.
5. The Perpetual Education Fund
In 2001, President Hinckley announced a loan program similar to the Perpetual Emigration Fund of the pioneer times. The Perpetual Education Fund was set up to help Latter-day Saints in developing nations to receive education and training to better their circumstances and grow in leadership in the Church.
6. Preach My Gospel
Springing from President Gordon B. Hinckley’s concerns over poor convert retention and returned missionaries’ inactivity, the journey to create Preach My Gospel began in 1999 with the current version released in 2004.
7. Humanitarian Donations on Tithing Slips
In 1997 the First Presidency introduced a new donation form with a space for Humanitarian aid allowing members to more easily help people of other faiths through the Church’s humanitarian projects.
In 2000, the First Presidency announced that Ricks College would become Brigham Young University-Idaho: a four-year, baccalaureate degree-granting institution. The transition took place under the leadership of President and Sister David and Susan Bednar. The Rexburg temple was dedicated in February 2008, with the Open House ending the day before President Hinckley’s death.
9. Two Year Temple Recommends
In November 2002, temple recommends were extended to two years instead of one. President Hinckley explained this change was meant to ease the burdens of Bishops and Stake Presidents in a growing and increasingly complex church.
10. The Living Christ & The Family: A Proclamation to the World
The First Presidency issued the Proclamation on the Family in 1995 and President Gordon B. Hinckley presented it at the General Relief Society Broadcast. He continued to emphasize the divinity of marriage and the family. On January 1, 2000 the First Presidency and Apostles declared their testimony of the Savior in The Living Christ, introducing it in a letter to priesthood leaders.
11. New Quorums of the Seventy
From 1995-2005 Area Authorities were called to replace Regional Representatives, and the Third-Eighth Quorums of Seventy were formed. Now called Area Seventies, these authorities preside in a specific geographic area.
12. The Six B’s
In November 2000, President Hinckley held a special meeting for youth and young adults at which he introduced the six B’s, six powerful suggestions for a focused and happy life.
13. Interfaith Relationships
President Hinckley lived by his own words as he continually encouraged members to be inclusive and compassionate to all, to simply be friends. In 2000 he said, “We can be more tolerant, more neighborly, more friendly… Let us teach our children to treat others with friendship, respect, love and admiration.”
14. Raising the Bar
In 2002, President Hinckley raised the bar of the standards for missionary worthiness. In the same talk, he eliminated sacrament meetings dedicated to missionary farewells and homecomings and asked that large open houses honoring the missionary be discontinued.
15. The Conference Center
In 2000, the Conference Center was completed with its 21,000 seat auditorium making it the largest theater-style auditorium in known history. The same year, the Church purchased the section of Main Street running through Temple Square and created Main Street Plaza, including the reflecting pond.
16. The Book of Mormon Challenge
In August 2005, President Hinckley challenged us to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year, promising, “there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God.”
17. Fellowshipping New Converts
President Hinckley frequently reiterated and expounded upon the three things every new convert needs: a friend, an assignment and to be constantly nourished by the good word of God.
18. New Personal Progress & Duty to God Programs
In 2002, a new Personal Progress program was introduced with six value experiences and one project for each value earning one culminating medallion. The words strengthen home and family were also added to the theme. [With the addition of the value virtue, the program was updated again in 2009.] The Duty to God program [previously Aaronic Priesthood Achievement where Scouting was unavailable] was emphasized Church-wide the same year with goals, experiences and journaling to help young men come to Christ during their Aaronic Priesthood years.
19. Rebuilding Nauvoo Temple
Moved by a deep love for the history and historical sites of the Church, President Hinckley oversaw the rebuilding of the Nauvoo Temple (dedicated in 2002 on the 158th anniversary of Joseph and Hyrum’s martyrdom), and the building of the Palmyra and Winter Quarters Temples, ensuring the window in the Palmayra Temple had a clear view of the Sacred Grove.
20. Carry On. Stand a Little Taller. Be Your Best.
President Gordon B. Hinckley’s contagious and ever present optimism reminded us that “it will all work out.” He lifted the Church collectively and individually as he urged us often to “try a little harder to be a little better,” and “When I say do your best, I mean your very best. You are capable of so much more.”
How we love this Prophet of God! Which of President Hinckley’s legacies most profoundly touched your life?