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SALT LAKE CITY — LDS Church leaders, a daughter, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and thousands of church members and dignitaries and friends honored President Thomas S. Monson at his funeral services Friday at the Conference Center.
“President Monson’s death ends a chapter in church history spanning 67 years of church service, beginning with his service as a bishop” at age 22, said President Henry B. Eyring, who served as first counselor to President Monson and conducted the funeral service.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang the opening hymn, “Consider the Lilies.”
Elder M. Russell Ballard gave the invocation.
“How grateful we are for having sent to us our beloved friend, our prophet, our president of the church, President Thomas S. Monson. We love him, Heavenly Father. We thank thee for all he’s been able to teach us, the great example he’s set for how to reach out to all thy children.”
Sister Ann Monson Dibb, President Monson’s lone daughter among three children and a former counselor in the Young Women general presidency of the church, spoke and thanked church members for their love for her father.
“Your 54 years of daily prayers offered as my father served as an apostle and then as president of the church have made a difference,” she said.
She also expressed gratitude on behalf of the family to her father’s counselors, church leaders, medical personnel and security detail.
Although he was revered as a prophet by 16 million Mormons, she said he knew he was not perfect.
“With all his heart, he humbly relied on and tried to be like our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” she said. “About a year ago, he was working in his office, and a copy of the Ensign magazine was open, and there displayed was his picture. My father pointed to the picture and said, ‘I know that guy. He tried his best.'”
She said her father left ‘a legacy of love and service’ and detailed several experiences, but she said no one needs to be the president of the church to follow his example and notice another’s need and to act.
As President Monson frequently did, his daughter quoted Shakespeare.
“They do not love who do not show their love,” she said, quoting “Two Gentlemen from Verona.”
“My dad acted upon his frequent feeling — ‘that would be a kind thing to do’ — only to find it was the answer to another’s prayer. By following the promptings of the Spirit, our simple acts of service can also be answers to prayers, and we can carry on this legacy by serving others.”
By watching him love and serve others, she said she realized that her father knew how to obtain true joy.
“Through his devoted service, he had learned that joy comes from loving the Lord and serving your neighbor,” she said. “This joy is available to all of us. There is no better way to honor my father, the prophet and our Savior Jesus Christ, than to live every day so that at its close we can truly say, ‘I feel I’ve done some good today.'”
The choir sang “O Divine Redeemer” and “Dear to the Heart of the Redeemer” as rest hymns and closed the meeting with “If the Way Be Full of Trial, Weary Not.”
“Thomas S. Monson is truly a spiritual giant,” said President Uchtdorf, who served as his second counselor. “He abounded in knowledge, faith, love, vision, testimony, courage and compassion, leading and serving — never from a pedestal, but always eye to eye. He has a special place in his heart for the poor and the needy.”
President Uchtdorf called President Monson “A prophet of God and my cherished friend” and said “How I will miss him.”
“We will miss his voice, his steadiness, his confidence in the Lord, his smile, his wit, his enthusiasm, his optimism and his stories, which I consider parables of a modern prophet of God,” he said.
He shared memories ranging from his own call as a general authority by President Monson 24 years ago to accompanying him in Germany as he eschewed the constant pain from foot surgery in order to visit an old, bedridden church leader-friend who lived five floors up in an elevator-less building.
“It has been a most satisfying and spiritually rewarding experience to serve as one of President Monson’s counselors in the First Presidency of the church,” President Uchtdorf said. “It has included happiness and heartache, laughter and sorrow, deep conversations and many inspired prophetic moments.”
“President Monson was truly a prophet for our time,” he added. “He was a man for all seasons,” President Uchtdorf said. “All that we know and love about President Thomas S. Monson will continue. His spirit has gone home to God, our Father in Heaven, who gave him life. Wherever I go in this beautiful world, a part of this cherished friend will always go with me.”
President Eyring continued the theme of President Monson’s continued compassion and charitable service, as the longtime Mormon leader acted on promptings to care for others.
“The number of individuals who loved him through his personal kindnesses is known only to the God who sent him to care for them,” he said.
He acknowledged a common refrain cited by the late president — that the Lord would be with those who receive him and give faithful service to him.
“Because he knew that promise was a reality, President Monson was optimistic. It also made him courageous. When he had to make difficult and important choices, he expected the Lord would answer his prayer and show him the way to go,” President Eyring said.
“When he was called to go into what appeared to be dangerous or perilous situations, others were afraid, yet he felt no fear. He believed that the Lord went before him and that angels were placed around him to bear him up. That proved to be true. His daughter, Ann, … stood near him hours before he passed away. I was blessed to be there. As I looked on his face, I thought that the Lord’s promise was being fulfilled. He had been surrounded and borne up by human angels — and perhaps more.”
President Nelson, the senior living apostle and president of the Quorum of the Twelve, said his feeling for President Monson were tender.
“President Monson lived a remarkable life. There will never be another like him,” he said, adding, “We will really miss him!”
“In a world saturated with ‘selfies,’ he modeled selflessness,” President Nelson said. “”He personified the statement of the Lord, who said, ‘He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.’ He gave his own time to visit, bless and love others. Even in his waning season, he continued to minister, making frequent visits to hospitals and senior centers.”
President Nelson listed a number of the late church president’s beloved expressions:
— “Send a note to the friend you’ve been neglecting”
— “Give your child a hug
— “Say ‘I love you more often,”
— “Always express your thanks”
— “Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved”
From a shared lifetime of experiences together, President Nelson cited just one, of the two meeting with leaders of the former German Democratic Republic in 1988 in the hopes of restoring Mormon missionary work there after a 50-year absence behind the then-called Iron Curtain.
Following a lengthy discourse on communism from East German leader Erich Honecker, President Monson followed with a message on how and why missionaries would be good for that country.
“I will never forget (Honecker’s) reply,” President Nelson said: “‘President Monson, we know you! We have watched you for many years! We trust you! Your request regarding missionaries is approved!'”
Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles provided the benediction and thanked God for “the gift of Thomas S. Monson. We will cherish forever the wisdom of his teachings and the example of his life.”
A son, Clark S. Monson, gave the family prayer and Thomas L. Monson will dedicate his father’s grave.
Pallbearers were Thomas P. Monson, Corey S. Kunz, Roger A. Dibb, Alan T. Dibb, Mark S. Dibb, Jeffrey M. Dibb, James W. Steele and Paul S. Monson.
Blue skies and sunshine chased a gray morning of dark rain clouds before the funeral began on an unseasonably warm January day.
President Monson died Jan. 2 of causes incident to old age. He was 90.
More than 31,000 mourners attended his viewing Thursday.
President Monson permanently altered the face of the church during a presidency that ended one month shy of 10 years. In October 2012, he announced that the church would lower the age at which young Mormon men and women can begin to serve missions.
Men now can begin mission service at age 18 instead of 19. Women can leave on missions at 19 instead of 21. The number of missionary applications soared 471 percent. Within a year, the overall number of missionaries jumped from 58,000 to more than 83,000.
But the age-change decision especially galvanized young Mormon women. In the first year after President Monson’s announcement, the number of sister missionaries skyrocketed from 8,055 to nearly 21,673. Women became 26 percent of the church’s missionary force, up from 12 percent.
The phenomenon spurred a national media outlet to declare that “the standard image of a Mormon missionary, a gangly young man in a dark suit, was suddenly out of date.”
Ordained an apostle at the unusually young age of 36, President Monson served in that role for 54 years, including 32 years in the First Presidency.
On Feb. 3, 2008, he was set apart as the church’s president.
During his administration, church membership grew from 13 million to more than 16 million.
Church leaders also dedicated 35 new temples in that time, nearly a quarter of the 159 operating around the world. He personally dedicated 21 temples as an apostle and member of the First Presidency.
At his passing, the church was renovating 12 existing temples, with 11 new temples under construction. He announced an additional 12 temples for which work has yet to begin.
He also issued mission calls to 410,442 full-time missionaries.
Church members will remember him for his call to “go to the rescue” and his own personal example of ministering to the one.
An indelible image of that service is President Monson shuffling through Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in his slippers, said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“The image of him I will cherish until I die is of him flying home from then–economically devastated East Germany in his house slippers because he had given away not only his second suit and his extra shirts but the very shoes from off his feet.”
Another member of the Twelve, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, called President Monson “the apostle of compassion.”
He also will be remembered for his love of poetry and literature and his personal accounts, all of which peppered his 230 general conference talks, and his announcements of new temples.
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