The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is often referred to as the LDS Church or the Mormon Church. Mormonism refers to the doctrines taught by Joseph Smith and the succeeding prophets and leaders of the Church, but those doctrines are believed to be eternal and part of the original gospel preached by Jesus Christ.
Mormonism is usually described as a branch of Christianity, encompassing numerous religious denominations, but Mormonism is generally associated with the theology and subculture of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Most people who are members of the Mormon Church prefer to be called Latter-Day Saints. Other generally acceptable terms are LDS, Saints, and Mormons. Even though they are widely used terms, some people in the Church view the terms Mormon and Mormonism as offensive. They prefer to be known as Christians and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The term "Mormon" derives from The Book of Mormon, that was published in 1830 and that more recently was subtitled "Another Testament of Jesus Christ" to highlight the importance of the information about the Savior contained in the book. The Book of Mormon is accepted by the Church as divine scripture, along with the Bible.
The Church is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. The church reports a worldwide membership of 12,275,822 as of December 31, 2004, with 6.7 million residing outside the United States. It is the fourth largest religion in the United States. According to statistics released by the church, 47% of its members live in the United States and Canada, 36% in Latin America, and 17% in other parts of the world. (See Membership Distribution.)
2 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
4 We believe that the first principles and [[ordinances[[ of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
5 We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
8 We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated ccorrectly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
9 We believe all that God has arevealed all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
10 We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.
11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
Basic Beliefs and Activities
Adapted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Latter-day Saints are widely known for:
- Active proselyting by full-time volunteer missionaries.
- Belief in modern day revelation through prophets, beginning with Joseph Smith, Jr., and continuing today with Gordon B. Hinckley.
- Acceptance of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price as works of scripture.
- A dietary code called the Word of Wisdom, which requires abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, and illegal drugs.
- Belief in God the Father, the Son (Christ), and the Holy Ghost existing as three separate individual beings or personages.
- Belief in a plan of salvation or eternal progression.
- Tithing (donating 10 percent of one's income to the church)
- Chastity, including abstinance from sexual relations outside of marriage, fidelity within marriage, modesty in dress and behavior, avoidance of homosexual activity (homosexual marriages are not performed nor supported by the church), avoidance of pornography in any form, and avoidance of R-rated and NC-17 movies, or any form of media which glorifies violence, contains excessive vulgar language, or is pornographic in any way.
- Lay (non-paid) leadership
- Family Home Evenings (families are encouraged to meet weekly for prayer and other activities - typically on Monday)
- Home and visiting teaching (members regularly visit one another in their homes for prayer and study).
- Tattoos and body piercings (except for one pair of earrings for women) are strongly discouraged.
- Church members are encouraged to marry and have children, and as a result, Mormon families tend to be larger than average.
- Morality. The church emphasises the moral standards taught by Jesus Christ, including personal honesty, integrity, and obedience to law.
- Family. The church puts notable emphasis on the family, and distinctively, the concept of a united family which lives and progresses forever is at the core of Latter-day Saint doctrine.
- The church opposes abortion.
- The Church opposes gambling.
As the name of the Church implies, Latter-day Saints regard Jesus Christ as the head of their Church and count themselves as Christians, but do not consider themselves part of the Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant traditions. Rather, they believe the Church to be the restoration of the original church established by Jesus Christ on Earth.
Church members believe that in the spring of 1820, God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, appeared to a 14-year-old boy named Joseph Smith in response to his prayer regarding which church was true. He was commanded to join none of the existing churches, and through other angelic visits was eventually called as the first prophet of the restored church. This event set in motion the events that led to the earthly restoration of the ancient church of Jesus Christ with its truths and priesthood authority. Ten years later, after a series of other revelations and visitations to Joseph and others, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organized by Joseph Smith and five associates on April 6, 1830, in Fayette, New York.
In addition to Sunday worship, some faithful members of the church may participate in ceremonies in temples, including baptisms for the dead, endowments, and eternal marriage. Adult members who obtain their endowments in the temple also receive the temple garment, which they wear under their daily clothing.
At one time in its early history, the Church endorsed a form of polygamy called "plural marriage," but this is no longer the case. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and other early members and leaders of the Church were married to more than one wife. The practice was officially withdrawn as stated in a declaration called "The Manifesto" which was given by President Wilford Woodruff in 1890 (see Official Declaration 1), and which advised Church members to obey the marriage laws of their land. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who engage in multiple marriage relationships are excommunicated.
Formal public and personal prayers are addressed to "Heavenly Father" and offered in the name of Jesus Christ, followed by "amen". When a prayer is given in public, it is customary for all attending to say "amen" at the prayer's conclusion. English-speaking members generally use "thee," "thou," "thy" and "thine" when addressing God, as a form of both familiarity and respect. Members who speak other languages use similar formal syntax in prayer. Most prayers are extemporaneous and may be said while kneeling, standing, or sitting or in any other position.
Certain prayers associated with ordinances are defined and must be delivered verbatim, while others must follow a certain pattern. For example, the prayer to bless the sacrament is a set prayer which is delivered the same way each week. The priesthood holder kneels to say the prayer; if he accidentally deviates from the form, he is instructed to repeat the prayer until it is correct. Likewise, the prayer for baptism must be given verbatim. Other ordinations and blessings have a pattern, for example, in a confirmation prayer, the priesthood holder is to address the individual being confirmed by his or her full name, state the priesthood authority by which the ordinance is given, confirm that person as a member of the Church, and bestow the Holy Ghost with such words as "receive the Holy Ghost." This is usually followed by an extemporaneous personal blessing as directed by the Spirit.
Latter-day Saints believe that one of the most important aspects of life on earth is the opportunity for individuals to learn and grow. Accordingly, the Church strongly emphasizes education and subsidizes Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University-Idaho (formerly Ricks College), and Brigham Young University-Hawaii. The Church also has a seminary program for high school students and an Institute of Religion program for college-age Church members. All members twelve and above attend Sunday School classes, which emphasize personal scripture studies and other forms of education and self-improvement.
In addition, the Church sponsors a low-interest educational loan program known as the Perpetual Education Fund. This fund is designed to benefit young men and women from all parts of the world who have served a mission, returned to their home, and need further education to become productive citizens in their respective countries. As they finish their education and enter the work force, they then are able to pay back the funds provided so that other individuals can attend both vocational technical schools and university.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints address each other as "Brother" or "Sister" and then usually append the last name (such as Brother Smith, or Sister Young). Additionally, those that hold specific leadership positions may be addressed by their title and then their last name (such as President Kimball). Some frequently-used titles are as follows.
- Bishop - The Bishop of a ward, but not his counselors, is addressed by the title of "Bishop". Generally, only the title is used, because bishops are confined to a small geographical location. The last name being used only to disambiguate.
- Elder - While most adult male Church members hold the office of Elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood, in general only full-time missionaries (proselyting or service), members of the Quorums of the Seventy, and members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are addressed with this title.
- Patriarch - A Patriarch is generally an older priesthood holder in a stake who is charged with providing blessings for individual members of the stake wherein his or her lineage in Israel is established as well as counsel for the future and promises of blessings for effort made to live a righteous life.
- President - In a ward, the Relief Society President and the Elder's Quorum President are referred to as "President So-and-So". Occasionally, other presidents within the ward, such as the Deacons Quorum President, may be referred to with this title. In addition to the above presidencies, in a branch, the branch president and his councilors are referred to as "President So-and-So". All members of a Stake (or District) Presidency, a Temple Presidency, a Mission Presidency, the Presidency of the Seventy, and the First Presidency are referred to as "president."
With the exception of "Elder", those who formerly held the callings listed above retain their titles, especially bishops. Former stake presidents and branch presidents are almost always referred to by their old title, especially by those people for whom they were responsible.
Genealogy (genealogical research) is an important aspect of Mormon tradition, stemming from a doctrinal mandate for Church members to research their family tree and perform vicarious ordinances for their ancestors. This is commonly referred to as family history work. In addition to the more common events that genealogy records typically contain (such as births, deaths, and marriages), church records also contain details regarding the dates of baptism, Endowment, and sealing to spouse, parent, and child, as well as the temple in which each vicarious ordinance occurred. Members often use the FamilySearch Web site for family history research. FamilySearch is the world's largest free genealogical Web site.
Official websites of the Church
- LDS.org - the official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — with links to Gospel Library, Church History, Family Home Evening programs, and more.
- Mormon.org - information on basic beliefs, a meetinghouse locator, and a place to email questions.
- FamilySearch.org - search for ancestors.
- JosephSmith.net - the official Web site on Joseph Smith by the Church.
- ProvidentLiving.org - spiritual and temporal welfare provided by the Church.
Church-friendly Web sites, unaffiliated with the Church
- LDS Today - news related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Meridian Magazine - webzine for Latter-day Saints; updated every weekday
- Mormon wiki - wiki for and supported by Latter-day Saints
- Nauvoo.com - a gathering place for Latter-day Saints, including discussion forums, owned by LDS author Orson Scott Card
- LDSFAQ at byu.edu - a comprehensive index answering many common questions. Uses large portions of The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
- Desert Saints Magazine A magazine for friends and members of the Church
- FARMS - Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (BYU)