Mormon church president Hinckley dead at 97

January 28, 2008 6:08:29 AM PST
Mormon church president Gordon B. Hinckley died Sunday, a church spokesman said. He was 97. Hinckley was the 15th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its longest-serving president.

Since taking over as president and prophet of the church on March 12, 1995, Hinckley 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.

Like his contemporary, Pope John Paul II, he became by far his church's most traveled leader in history.

And the number of Mormons outside the United States surpassed that of American Mormons for the first time since the church, the most successful faith born in the United States, was founded in 1830.

The church presidency is a lifetime position.

The oldest church president was David O. McKay who was 96 when he died in 1970.