Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who was considered a prophet by its followers, died at the age of 90 on Tuesday, due to natural causes in his home in Salt Lake City.
Mormon Newsrooom reported that Monson served the 16 million members of the LDS Church around the world as president since February 2008, adding that his successor is not going to be chosen until the funeral takes place.
"He loved the cultures of the world, and deeply respected them. And particularly the faith of the people," said President Henry B. Eyring, who served as first counselor in the First Presidency.
The Mormon Church noted that Monson was famous for ministering to thousands at homes, hospitals, and care centers.
"When I look at his life, he was a member of the Church everyone could relate to and everyone could feel comfortable in his presence," added President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency.
"At the same time, when he walked with kings, with prime ministers, with presidents, with representatives of nations, it was the same way. They all felt that he was their friend."
One of Monson's notable decisions came in October 2012, when he changed the age requirements for missionaries, which allowed for tens of thousands more Mormons to be sent on mission trips around the world.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Monson's nearly decade long tenure was also posed with challenges, such as a divisive debate on same-sex marriage, though the LDS Church maintains that marriage is solely between one man and one woman.
Monson was ordained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in October 1963 at the age of 36, which is the LDS Church's second-highest governing body after the three-man First Presidency.
"He also served as president of the LDS Church's Canadian Mission, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, from 1959 to 1962. Before that time, he served in the presidency of the Temple View Stake in Salt Lake City, Utah, and as a bishop of the Sixth-Seventh Ward in that stake," Mormon Newsroom added.
As Reuters noted, Mormons considered Monson to be a "prophet who received divine revelations."
Mormons believe in Jesus Christ and read the Bible, but they follow the Book of Mormon, which places them outside mainstream Christianity, with many considering the religion to be a cult.
Shane Idleman, founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, California, wrote in an op-ed in The Christian Post in December 2016 that there are "clear differences" between Mormons and Christians.
"The challenge with believing both the Bible and the Book of Mormon is that Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith cannot both be right — they contradict each other at every turn. Mormon doctrine teaches that the inspired words of their living prophets become scripture; thus, superseding the Bible," Idleman positioned at the time.