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- Last Updated: March 6, 2013
- Originally Published: July 22, 2012
- The Faithology Editorial Staff
The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, commonly known as "Mormonism," was founded in 1830, by Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805-1844). Smith founded the Latter-day Saints (LDS) Church after he was unable to determine which Christian church was true. According to LDS scripture, he prayed for guidance in 1820 and was then visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ, who were said to have appeared to him to declare that no church held the entire truth and that he would lead aof the gospel in its fullness.
LDS doctrine states that in 1823, Smith was visited by an angel named, who told him about a divine record written on . After a time, Smith received these plates and published the , a text that purported to be a translation of these plates. In 1830, Smith organized the in the state of New York.
Shortly after the establishment of the LDS church, Smith and his followers moved to Kirtland, Ohio, where the LDS community grew. In 1838, the main body of the church moved to Missouri, but hostilities between the Latter-day Saints and Missourians soon required the church body to relocate again to Illinois. The Mormons established a new community in Nauvoo and built athere. In 1844 Smith was killed by a mob while being held in a jail in the city of Carthage. With threats against the LDS community growing, Smith’s successor Brigham Young decided to move the entire church once again. After traveling across the Midwest in wagon trains, the Latter-day Saints finally settled in present-day Salt Lake City, Utah, where their headquarters are now located.
Non-Trinitarians: Mormons are Non-Trinitarian. They believe that God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit are three separate, but equally important, personages.
Sacred Texts: The Bible, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and theare the accepted by the church as scripture. Members are encouraged to seek personal from God on any matter of importance.
: LDS doctrine holds that Jesus delegates authority to mortals through what is known as the priesthood . Smith and his secretary, Oliver Cowdery, are said to have been visited by John the Baptist, who ordained them as priests in the Aaronic Priesthood. Later, they were purportedly visited by Simon Peter, James, and John, who ordained them apostles in the Melchizedek Priesthood. Today, the senior living is the president of the LDS Church. All the apostles are sustained as "prophets, seers and revelators." All worthy males above age twelve hold the priesthood. The LDS Church has no paid clergy, and priesthood holders are called by church authorities to serve as lay ministers.
Church structure: The most basic unit of the LDS Church is a, or local congregation, which is overseen by a . Multiple wards constitute a , which operate under the direction of a stake president. Multiple stakes form areas, which are overseen by members of the Quorums of the . These areas are considered to be the primary administrative units between the stakes and the church as a whole. They are under the direction of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles , which is under the direction of the . No person may serve in any capacity without the sustaining vote of those he or she will serve.
Ordinances: Latter-day Saints observe five sacraments, which they call "the ordinances of salvation":by immersion, (of those over age 8), Ordination (for men), the , and Celestial Marriage . The Eucharist , which Latter-day Saints refer to as “the sacrament,” is administered during the weekly service, and Unction (the blessing of the sick) is performed as needed.
Dietary Law: The Word of Wisdom serves as LDS dietary law. Alcohol, tobacco, tea, and coffee are banned. A healthy diet of grains, fruits, and limited meat is encouraged.
Polygamy: Polygamy was practiced from about 1840 until officially ended in 1890. Some Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints (FLDS) still practice polygamy in modern times.