Mormon Church head, Thomas Spencer Monson dies at 90

Mormon Land’ special edition The life and legacy of Thomas S. Monson — from a strict gay policy to a Scouting split and younger missionaries

LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson waves as he rides in the Days of'47 Parade in Salt Lake City

"He died at age 90 from causes incident to age", read the news release posted on the Mormon Newsroom website.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was founded by Joseph Smith around 1820 and the first church was built in 1830.

The Mormon religion has its roots in Palmyra of Wayne County.

"President Monson, who has served as president of the Church since February 2008, leaves behind a legacy of service and good works".

Church members knew him as a man who would give the clothes off of his back.

Utah's Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said he woke up to the news of Monson's passing and remarked that his life was "a symphony of service". The Mormon leader was 90.

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Jackie Biskupsi, mayor of Salt Lake City, said she was saddened to hear of Monson's passing.

"Time and time again those who were riding the rails came to our home. Then the performance of your tasks will be no miracle, but you will be the miracle".

Monson sought to spread a Mormon message of charity at a pivotal time in the faith's history.

Membership of the religion swelled to almost 15.9 million during his tenure, with more than half outside the United States. "President Nelson is remarkably healthy", Eric Hawkins, a spokesman for the church, said. Young women are encouraged to serve 18-month missions.

From the MormonNewsroom.org: "Monson was born in Salt Lake City on August 21, 1927, to G. Spencer and Gladys Condie Monson". Under the Utah Compact the the church called for more humane immigration policies.

Nate Eaton and friends pose with President Thomas S. Monson at a reception in July 2007.

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However, the church supported a measure to ban gay marriage in California in 2008, prompting a backlash that included vandalism of buildings and demonstrations outside church temples nationwide. Children of same-sex couples can not be baptized until they turn 18 - and then, only if they denounce their parents' marriage.

"He doesn't act as if he is an administrator who has to get through all of the issues", Neil L. Andersen, a Mormon apostle, said.

One week later, more than 1,000 members gathered for a mass resignation ceremony in Salt Lake City. The church has also backed political candidates, such as Mitt Romney in the 2012 election. In 1963, aged 36, Monson was appointed to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It said the separation was unrelated to the Scouts' decision to admit gay and transgender Scouts and to allow gay men to serve as troop leaders. Frances died in 2013 at the age of 85. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his three children and the rest of the Monson family", he said.

His successor has not yet been named, but is widely expected to be Russell M. Nelson.

"One night during the Christmas holidays some years ago, President Monson was making his customary rounds to "his" widows, leaving gifts purchased from his own pocket, including plump dressed chickens that were, in the early years, raised in his own coops", Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles wrote in an Ensign article in September 1994.

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