Monson, the First Counselor of the Mormon church, laughs while waiting for the start of the 177th semi-annual general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City.(Photo: Douglas C.
A church bishop at the age of 22, the Salt Lake City native became the youngest church apostle ever in 1963 at the age of 36.
He put an emphasis on the humanitarian ethic of Mormons, evidenced by his expansion of the church’s disaster relief programs around the world, said Armand Mauss, a retired professor of sociology and religious studies at Washington State University.
He said that during his childhood in the Depression of the 1930s their house in Salt Lake City was known to hobos riding the railroads as a place to get a meal and a kind word.
The growth and globalization of the religion continued under Monson, with membership swelling to nearly 15.9 million, with more than half outside the United States.