Monson died Jan. 2 at the age of 90 after a nearly a decade as church president. He expanded the church’s reach and its transparency and was known for promoting humanitarian causes.
Herbert characterized Monson’s life as “a sermon of service.”
“He cared for all people as children of God,” the governor said in a statement following Monson’s death. “The state of Utah and its citizens are better people because of his example of kindness, his personal ministry and his visionary leadership.
“Throughout my years of public service it has been a distinct privilege to associate with President Monson and his sweet wife Frances. They became dear friends and mentors to our family. His legacy of service, compassion and unwavering love for all of God’s children will be felt for generations to come.”
A church bishop at the age of 22, the Salt Lake City native became the youngest church apostle in a half century when he was named to the post in 1963 at the age of 36. He served as a counselor for three church presidents before assuming the role of the top leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in February 2008.
Monson will also be remembered for his emphasis on humanitarian work; leading the faith’s involvement in the passage of gay marriage ban in California in 2008; continuing the church’s push to be more transparent about its past; and lowering the minimum age for missionaries.
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.
“President Monson always seemed more interested in what we do with our religion rather than in what we believe,” Mauss said.
U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch spoke on the Senate floor Monday to honor Monson.
“President Monson was a servant first, and a leader second. Endless are the stories in which he would drop everything—sometimes even leaving church meetings early—to visit a grieving widow, bless a sickly child, or minister to a family in need,” Hatch said.
“Both on a macro- and a micro-level, President Monson was intimately involved in building up the kingdom of God. And he was perhaps the greatest living example of Christ’s admonition to find the one lost sheep who has gone astray and bring him back to the fold.”
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Herbert added, “As we celebrate President Thomas S. Monson’s remarkable life, let us remember his focus on the one — his admonition to serve the individuals around us — recognizing that even the smallest actions can lift lives and brighten our world.”
The U.S. and Utah flags will be flown at half staff at all state facilities and public grounds from sunrise until sunset on Jan. 12 only, according to a statement issued by the governor’s office. Individuals and businesses are encouraged to fly the flag at half staff for the same length of time.
Herbert ordered flags flown at half staff several times last year, including for Staff Sgt. Aaron Butler, a member of the Utah Guard who was killed in combat in Afghanistan, as well as for the victims of the Las Vegas and Texas shootings and in honor of 9/11, Memorial Day, National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
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