Thomas S. Monson dead: Renowned Mormon church president dies age 90

Francesca Gillett
Thomas Monson, president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Bloomberg via Getty Images

The head of the Mormon church, Thomas S. Monson, has died at the age of 90.

A spokesman for the Church of the Latter Day Saints said president Monson, who had served as the 16th president since 2008, died peacefully on Tuesday surrounded by his family at his home in Salt Lake City.

He died of “causes incident to age” and leaves behind "a legacy of service and good works", the spokesman said.

According to the church, Mr Monson grew the number of Mormons from 13 to over 16 million members worldwide during nearly 10 years as president.

The next leader will be chosen by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles after Mr Monson's funeral.

Tributes poured into father-of-three Mr Monson, who served in the US Navy and had a business background in the publishing and printing industry.

“More than anything else during a lifetime of ministry, President Monson will be known for his charitable acts,” former Utah senator Stuart Reid said while homeless activist Pamela Atkinson called him “a great humanitarian”.

Mr Monson cut back on the number of his public appearances and addresses in May 2015 due to age, and was described in April this year as “weary but well”.

Among the most controversial moments of his presidency was the decision in November 2015 to label same-sex Mormon couples as “apostates” who could be excommunicated.

Children of same-sex couples would be refused baptism and other religious rites until they turned 18.