With the start of fall’s LDS General Conference less than a month away, Mormons everywhere wonder: Will their frail prophet-president speak or even attend?
Slowed by advancing age and declining health, Thomas S. Monson, who turned 90 last month, has stepped away from the day-to-day reins of the global faith, relying instead on his two counselors in the governing First Presidency.
One of those counselors, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, says it’s too early to say whether Monson will be at the twice-yearly conference, which begins Sept. 23 with a women’s meeting and continues Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 from the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City.
“We will see. We will see,” Uchtdorf said Sunday when asked whether his friend and longtime LDS authority will attend any of the sessions. “ … Like the weather, health is the same thing. You never know exactly what it will be in four weeks.”
Uchtdorf, who was visiting a flood-scarred neighborhood in Houston, said Monson is “content” and “very grateful” for the prayers of millions of Mormons around the world, and that the LDS president, in turn, implores the heavens on behalf of the members.
“When you have heard him pray for the membership,” Uchtdorf said, “you know how his heart is reaching out to the individual, the families and to those in need.”
The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in May that Monson, revered as a “prophet, seer and revelator” by the Mormon faithful, no longer goes to his office or attends meetings regularly “because of limitations incident to his age.”
During the most recent General Conference, in April, he delivered two short sermons, but did not appear at half the sessions. Soon afterward, the LDS leader was admitted to a hospital for a couple of nights after complaining of fatigue and exhaustion.
Monson has been a Mormon general authority for more than half a century. He was ordained an apostle in 1963 at age 36 and has led the nearly 16 million-member faith for almost a decade.
Reporter Taylor W. Anderson contributed to this story.