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New leader has had long involvement with NZ

Thomas S. Monson Named 16th Church President

SYDNEY, Feb. 05

New leader has had long involvement with New Zealand

Thomas S. Monson is the new president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it was announced today at a news conference in the Church Office Building in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah (see www.lds.org/newsroom). President Monson, 80, succeeds President Gordon B. Hinckley, who died on 27th January at the age of 97.

President Monson’s history with New Zealand goes back as far as the 60s and 70s. His first visit, in November 1967, was soon after he was called to serve as one of the Twelve Apostles, at the relatively young age of 36. In that visit he presided over the division of the growing Hamilton Stake (similar to a diocese) to create the Templeview Stake. In the following decades he also presided at meetings in Auckland and other areas in the Pacific.

Professionally, President Monson had a distinguished career in newspaper publishing and printing and held the position of General Manager of the Deseret News Press prior to being called to full-time Church service. While working at the Deseret News, he also served as a lay bishop over a Church ward (parish). Among his responsibilities was the care of 84 widows for whom he gave pastoral care long after being assigned to greater responsibility.

The new president and his two counselors constitute the First Presidency, the highest-ranking governing body of the Church. The First Presidency supervises the work of the entire Church in all matters of policy, organization and administration and is supported in this work by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other international officers with the title Seventy.

As with other Christian faiths, the office of president is regarded with great reverence and respect. Yet, Latter-day Saints (sometimes also referred to as “Mormons”) believe their international president to be a prophet with the same authority and responsibility to represent God on earth as the prophets of Biblical times. This is consistent with the Church’s belief in continuing revelation and that the scriptural canon did not close with the death of the ancient prophets and apostles.

The process for choosing a new Latter-day Saint president is unique amongst the world’s major faiths. There are neither debates in the corridors of power nor majority votes of Church leaders. Throughout Church history, the longest-serving apostle has become the president of the Church when the First Presidency has been reorganized.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the fastest-growing Christian faiths with 13 million members worldwide. There are 290,000 members in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands Area.


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