Mormons from the greater Chattanooga area gathered Friday to pay tribute to the late President Thomas S. Monson, a mighty prophet of God and 16th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Funeral services were broadcast from the Salt Lake City Conference Center where over 21,000 attended. Tens of thousands around the world watched the live broadcast, which was translated into nearly 30 languages and transmitted by satellite and on media channels including BYU.tv and LDS.org. Condolences from dignitaries around the world poured in and Catholic bells tolled, as the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City also honored the life and legacy of President Thomas S. Monson.
President Monson’s daughter, Ann Monson Dibb, spoke at the funeral services. She expressed her profound love for her father – and for his legacy of service. “He loved the Lord and he loved people,” she said. “He saw our potential and believed sincerely in our ability to change and progress through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who served as second counselor in the First Presidency said, “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.”
“Thomas S. Monson was truly a spiritual giant,” Elder Uchtdorf stated. “He was truly a prophet for our time. He abounded in knowledge, faith, love, vision, testimony, courage and compassion – leading and serving never from a pedestal, but always eye to eye. He had a special place in his heart for the poor and needy…. He loved the Savior Jesus Christ.”
Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who served as first counselor in the First Presidency said, “The love of God, and love for God’s children, permeated [President Monson’s] life. That love began early and endured with him to the end.”
President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “In a world now saturated with ‘selfies’, [President Monson] modeled selflessness…. He gave his own time to visit, bless, and love others. Even in his waning season, he continued to minister.”
President Nelson also told about when he and President Monson were in East Berlin in 1988. President Monson was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the time. For many years, Elder Monson had been visiting LDS members behind the Iron Curtain. He had become acquainted with their plight and felt deeply for them.
When Elder Monson and Elder Nelson had an opportunity to meet with Erich Honecker, Chairman of the State Council for the German Democratic Republic, Elder Monson boldly asked Chairman Honecker if he would grant permission to allow LDS missionaries to serve there. President Nelson said, “I will never forget Chairman Honecker’s reply. ‘Elder Monson, we know you. We have watched you for many years. We trust you. Your request regarding missionaries is approved.’”
As Elder Eyring said, President Monson believed “that the Lord went before him and that angels were placed around him to bear him up. That proved true.’” Such was the life of Thomas S. Monson. “He lived a remarkable life,” President Nelson said. “There will never be another like him.” President Monson was always on the Lord’s errand.
And so, although we will miss President Monson, “Our sorrow is assuaged by the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ,” as President Nelson testified. “His bitter cup makes our bereavement bearable.” In other words, we will see President Monson again because as the Apostle Paul declared, “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).
For now, President Monson has been reunited with his beloved wife, Frances, who passed away in 2013, and with other family members and loved ones who went before him. He now stands with the prophets of God who preceded him in death. LDS Chattanoogans join in saying goodbye to President Monson – until we meet again. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21)