The word “Mormon” is a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you live in the United States, you probably know someone who is a Mormon; if you live in Ukraine, where the Church was prohibited until the 1990s, you may not know one yet. But there are Mormons in Ukraine, and in nearly every country in the world.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is sometimes inadvertently referred to as the “Mormon Church” in the media, is a Christian faith, as it name implies. There are over 14 million Mormons worldwide. You can find Mormons in every profession and walk of life. Some Mormons are famous; others live quiet lives with their families. Some are young; some are old. Some are descended from generations of Church members; others are recent converts. But what all Mormons have in common is this: they love and worship the Lord, Jesus Christ, and strive to follow Him. Mormons are, above all, Christians. Jesus Christ is at the very center of their lives and their faith.
Mormon Beginnings: The Prophet Joseph Smith
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in 1830 on a small farm in upstate New York, in the northeastern United States. Mormonism began when a 14-year-old boy named Joseph Smith prayed to God in the woods near his home, asking which church he should join from among the many seeking converts in his area. To his great astonishment, his prayer was answered with a vision of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, who instructed the young Joseph that he should not join any of the churches then in existence. God explained that over the centuries, many truths known to the ancient Christian church had been lost. Joseph Smith was to wait, study the Bible, and pray. Jesus Christ would soon restore His original Church, as it existed during and after His mortal ministry, to the earth. Joseph Smith would be called as a prophet, and God would restore His ancient doctrines through Joseph to the people of the earth.
When Joseph Smith came of age, he received from an angel an ancient record, inscribed on plates of gold, which he translated by revelation from God. This record, known as The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, recorded God’s dealings with a group of people who lived in the Americas anciently. The people of The Book of Mormon were taught by their prophets about the mission of Jesus Christ, just as the people in the old world were, prior to His coming to earth. After His resurrection, Jesus visited the Book of Mormon people, teaching them His gospel. The entire religious history of this people, which spans many centuries, was abridged and recorded on gold plates by the ancient American prophet Mormon. It is from Mormon that The Book of Mormon got its name. Mormons acquired their nickname from the same prophet.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Joseph Smith established the Church of Jesus Christ by revelation from God. The Bible and the Book of Mormon together clarify many ambiguous points of doctrine, making it much easier to know what is true. The prophet Joseph Smith also asked questions of God, receiving many revelations from Him. Through study and revelation, Joseph organized a new Christian church that followed the same teachings and practices as the church Jesus organized during His ministry on earth.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has grown from its early beginnings to a world-wide organization, with its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the United States. More Mormons live outside of the United States than inside. The Church continues to be led by a modern-day prophet, Thomas S. Monson. President Monson has been ordained to his calling through the priesthood passed down from Joseph Smith, who was ordained by heavenly messengers in the 1800s. Twelve living Apostles of Jesus Christ lead the Church and bear witness of the Savior to the world.
The modern Church of Jesus Christ is known for its emphasis on traditional moral values. Mormons strive to follow Jesus by keeping His commandments as set forth in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and The Book of Mormon. They believe in faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, and baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. They strive to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost as it guides them in making decisions and serving others. When they break God’s commandments, Mormons believe they can repent by asking forgiveness from God through the atonement of Jesus Christ, by making restitution to the best of their ability, and by forsaking their sins. Through the atonement of the Savior, all human beings can repent, change, and be forgiven for their sins. We can be sustained through all our trials if we turn to Jesus Christ. The Savior has also conquered death, meaning that one day, all humanity will be resurrected, just as Jesus was resurrected. Those who have repented of their sins and followed the Savior can then return to live with Heavenly Father in joy and peace with their families.
Mormons believe that God has given us our families, and that they are central to our happiness both on earth and in the eternities. In Mormon temples, families can be “sealed,” or bound together, not just for this life but also after death. Faithful Mormon couples come to the temple to be married, so that their marriages will last beyond the grave. Children are also sealed to their parents in Mormon temples. The LDS Church teaches that building and maintaining a loving eternal family is the most important work we can do in this life. Our family will also be a large part of our joy and reward in heaven.
Mormon Missionary Work
Because it is imperative that all of God’s children have the opportunity to learn about and follow Jesus Christ, Mormons send missionaries throughout the world, just as Jesus did when He was on earth. Nearly every Mormon will serve a mission at some time during his or her life. Most missionaries serve as young men and women, giving up two years of schooling, work, and friends to teach, at their own expense, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Missionaries share messages about the Savior and about His Church as it has been restored through Joseph Smith and the prophets and apostles of our day. They encourage people everywhere to have faith in Christ, repent of their sins, be baptized, and follow Jesus’s example in their everyday lives.
Most of all, Mormons seek to follow Jesus Christ in everything they do. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is known for its humanitarian efforts throughout the world. However, it is in their day-to-day choices that Mormons, like people everywhere, make the biggest difference. Just as the Savior healed the sick and cared for the needy, Mormons seek to help those around them every day in their families, neighborhoods, and communities. If someone is sick, they strive to be there to help; if someone is in need, Mormons attempt to meet those needs. The Church has a large network through which goods and services can be provided to those who are hungry physically, socially, or spiritually. Jesus reached out to all those around Him, sacrificing even His life so that we might live. As members of His Church on the earth today, Mormons strive to spread His gospel and dedicate their lives to His service. A Mormon is a follower of Christ.
In the Bible it says, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:1,6). The home is the best place to learn and apply the teachings found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often misnamed the Mormon Church) believe that nothing on earth can compensate for failure in the home.
God designates each of His children into families on this earth, where they can further develop their talents and attributes. God wants His children to obey His commandments so that they will experience long-lasting and complete happiness as they strive to live righteously here on earth. It is in the rearing of Mormon families in which all of us can receive the blessings of the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is in the four corners of our home where vital lessons can be learned and applied in life.
Many past and present prophets have testified about the value and importance of the family, whether that family is a Mormon family or not. “The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and a woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).
Mormon families love to mingle and to share with others the blessings they have received as they obey the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Moron families are also willing to share they have and would gladly lend a hand to those who might stand in need of help. There are so many other things that Mormon families can share and testify of concerning the effect of the gospel in their lives when Christ’s teachings are shared within the Mormon family units.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the central core around which these Mormon families build their strong foundation. “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power to beat you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Helaman 5:12).
Throughout the history of the Church, the Mormon family has been one of the most important aspects being discussed and emphasized. For example, the Church reserves Monday evening free of church responsibilities for members to focus and have time with their families. Likewise, Mormon missionaries all the world are instructed to put emphasis on teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in their investigators’ homes where their families can gather together and hear the glorious message of the gospel as well.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in the admonition of the Lord. He said, “And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7). The wonderful thing about Mormon families is that they know, through obedience to God’s commandments, families can be together forever when they are sealed for eternity in a Mormon temple. The blessings which come to faithful Mormon families are the greatest gifts that God has to bestow upon His children.
Roy Patrick is currently working as a Call Center Agent in the Philippines. He served a full-time mission in San Francisco, CA. His family is one of the pioneers of the LDS Church in Panay Island, Philippines.
The Kiev Mormon Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called by friends of other faiths, the “Mormon Church”) recently received first place for the best religious building construction for 2010. It is the first Mormon temple constructed “in the former Soviet Union.” The Kiev temple was announced back in 1998 just a few weeks after the dedication of the first Ukrainian meetinghouse.
Latter-day Saint temples are different from regular church meetinghouses. Temples are literally Houses of the Lord. They are places where Mormons go to make sacred promises or covenants with Jesus Christ. They promise to follow Jesus Christ and live a life of virtue and service to Jesus Christ. Latter-day Saints also bring names to temples to perform ordinances such as baptisms and sealings that unite families in an eternal relationship, in behalf of their ancestors who have passed away. It is a place of love, peace, and holiness for those who attend.
For the full report, please visit the official Mormon news website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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Learn more about why Mormons build temples at the official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Temples are houses of the Lord where sacred ordinances are performed. Learn more about what goes on in Mormon temples.
If you are not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the Mormon Church) and have had a Latter-day Saint friend get married in a Mormon temple, you may be wondering what the big deal is and why anyone would choose to get married in a place where so many of their friends and family could not attend the wedding. After all, a person’s wedding is one of the biggest days of their life. Why wouldn’t they want all of their loved ones to be there and to be a part of it? Understanding a little bit about the Mormon doctrine of eternal families should help resolve this question.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a unique doctrine from other Christian denominations: eternal families. While many people believe that they will be with their loved ones again after they die, it is not part of their church’s doctrine. In fact, many people are shocked when they learn that their church teaches that a marriage ends at death. The phrases “Till death do you part” and “For as long as you both shall live” have perhaps become so much a part of what we expect to hear at weddings, that we no longer think about what they mean. The person performing the wedding has no authority to extend the marriage relationship (and thus, the family relationship) beyond the bounds of this world.
However, Mormon doctrine teaches that families can be together forever; that marriages can be for eternity. Such a marriage can be performed in only one place, however: Mormon temples. God has given the power to certain men to perform marriages (called sealings in Mormon doctrine) which bind a couple together forever. Such a blessing requires a great deal of commitment, however. Attending Mormon temples requires a high standard of living in the first place, but once a person receives temple ordinances for themselves, they promise to live even higher standards. When being sealed, a couple promises to support each other for eternity. This is a very different perspective than a marriage which lasts only in this lifetime. Being sealed to someone requires a great deal of sacrifice, as does any marriage, but when a couple is sealed, they have already made certain covenants with God. With these promises made to God first, and to spouse second, an eternal marriage begins on a completely different plane than a civil marriage.
The eternal nature of the commitment in a Mormon temple wedding is infinitely more powerful than those of a civil marriage. This is why it is so important to those who understand the true nature of the temple sealing to not settle for anything less. Of course family and friends are important, but it is more important to have the best possible start to your life together.
The Mormon wedding ceremony itself is quite short. It takes place in a sealing room of the temple. The couple kneels across from each other at an altar. There are two large mirrors hanging parallel to each other over the altar, casting infinite reflections. These reflections are symbolic of the eternal nature of this couple’s relationship. An exchange of rings is not part of the ceremony, but if a couple lives in a culture where rings are traditionally exchanged, they can do this quietly after the ceremony is complete. The couple can invite whomever they wish to attend, as long as guests are temple worthy themselves.
Everything else is very traditional, or can be as traditional as the couple wishes it to be. The bride can wear a dress of her choosing, as long as it is modest. Couples often have large receptions afterwards for family and friends, especially for those who were unable to attend the wedding ceremony. A temple sealing is one of the most beautiful, spiritual events of a lifetime, and is worth whatever sacrifice is necessary to get there. The blessings which come from this union are so beautiful and strengthening to a new marriage.