The Latter-day Saints I talked to yesterday were sad to see their leader, Gordon B. Hinckley, go, but not distraught in anyway. A couple remarked with joy that he would be with his wife again (the church teaches that families are families for eternity).
Hinckley's experience as a missionary led him to higher authority in the church. He realized the need for better material to distribute to non-believers and he made a career of promoting the church and its teachings in an easy to understand manner.
"He’s always been a great missionary and encouraged us to spread the word about the gospel of Christ and invited anyone who wanted to hear the message about Christ," Shreveport Stake President Brent Merrill said.
It reminded me a little bit of Pope John Paul II. The late pope was widely travelled and a great advocate for evangelism who, even as an elderly man, connected with youth.
Jeffrey Loftin, a Shreveport native now studying at BYU saw Hinckley speak a couple of times. He told me about some of his journal entries after seeing the president.
"At the top it says – I’ve had a constant burning in my chest for 10 minutes," Loftin said.
To Loftin, that was confirmation from the Holy Spirit that Hinckley was a man of God and was speaking God's truth.
"Every time I have written specific impressions from the Spirit. It’s a deep knowledge – every word he says he’s saying for a reason. He’s genuine and open and honest."
Funeral services for Hinckley have been set for 10 a.m. Saturday in Salt Lake City. They will be broadcast on BYU television, which is apparently available on many Sattelite carriers.