Things are very busy in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah -- so much so that the Family History Library will be closed on Saturday in memory of LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley's death. This will impact researchers who plan to be in town late this week.
According to today's Deseret News, thousands are planning to attend the viewing. "The number of visitors paying their respects at the viewing today and Friday is expected to top 60,000 each day, but people waiting in line will be able to use the Conference Center's 21,000-seat auditorium instead of braving the cold outside."
Funeral services for President Hinckley, who passed away on the evening of January 27, 2008 will be held Saturday, February 2. For the latest official information, visit the LDS.org Newsroom. For a listing of worldwide broadcast times and options (including Church satellite, television, and Internet), see the broadcast schedule.
Those not familiar with the Mormon faith may be interested in reading his obituary. "Hinckley, a grandson of Mormon pioneers, was president for nearly 13 years. He took over as president and prophet on March 12, 1995 and oversaw one of the greatest periods of expansion in church history. The number of temples worldwide more than doubled, from 49 to more than 120 and church membership grew from about 9 million to more than 12 million."
I've reserved my personal comments until now. President Hinckley was a kindly man with a sense of humor. These attributes combined with spiritual strength were particularly delightful to me. His human side shone through on many occasions as he traveled the globe visiting with people from all walks of life. He loved the youth of our church, as evidenced by his praise and words of encouragement for them. He wasn't afraid to show emotions, particularly over the death of his wife. In recalling her, he would say in a quiet voice that he knew what loneliness was. That speaks volumes about his capacity for love and devotion.
It is during the time of Gordon B. Hinckley's presidency that FamilySearch and FamilySearchIndexing have become household words among genealogists. One of his associates, Marlin K. Jensen explained that President Hinckley wanted the newFamilySearch (still in its infancy) to be easy enough for a little old lady in sneakers from Blackfoot, Idaho to be able to readily use it. The Family History Library's digital microfilm scanning and internet presentation of genealogically-significant source documents also begun during Hinckley's tenure.
For my grandchildren, President Hinckley is the only President of the Church they have known. This is truly the passing of an era.
Happy family tree climbing!
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© 2008 Pat Richley, All Rights Reserved.