I am a member of what is commonly referred to as the Mormon Church. The Mormon Church is actually a nickname for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church was founded in 1830 under the direction of Joseph Smith. The Church is based upon personal revelations he received, the doctrines of the Bible, and the doctrines of the Book of Mormon (a book of ancient scripture Joseph translated by the power of God).
Even before the Church was formally organized, persecutions hounded Joseph Smith and those who followed him. Members of the Church, referred to as Latter-day Saints or Saints, were driven from town to town and state to state. In spite of this persecution and the murder of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Church has flourished and now has over 12 million members around the world in over 160 countries.
My own ancestors joined the LDS Church in England and Scandinavia in the mid 1800's, emigrated to America, and crossed the plains in wagon companies as pioneers. These people were part of the great colonization effort made by the pioneers of the Rocky Mountains, settling in Southeastern Idaho where I was raised. When I read their stories, I'm constantly amazed at the trials they endured.
Mormons are Christians. Christ is the center of my religious life. One of the core beliefs of the LDS Church is that after the death of Christ's apostles the church fell into apostasy and the authority to act in God's name was lost. We believe that the LDS Church is Christ's restored church on earth. These keys of authority (the Priesthood) were necessarily restored to Joseph Smith by the servants of Jesus Christ and have since been handed down in unbroken succession. In conjunction with that, the Mormon Church believes in, and is founded upon, the idea that God still speaks to men in the form of visions and revelations to His prophets. Most of Mormon scripture has come through modern revelation. Such revelations continue to guide the church today.
Mormons believe that all people are children of God, and as such all should hear God's message and learn of his plan for their eternal salvation. Consequently, the LDS Church sends over 50,000 young men and women throughout the world as missionaries spreading the gospel to all the nations of the world. I served a two-year volunteer mission in the late 70's to Tokyo Japan. My oldest son served two years as a missionary in Cuiaba Brazil. My middle son is preparing to serve in Milan Italy.
Another belief that sets the Mormon Church apart revolves around the importance of temples. The Mormon Church believes that there are truths and ordinances necessary for people to return to God which can only be found in temples. All worthy adult members of the LDS Church can go to any of the Church's temples and do work for themselves and the deceased. There are over 120 temples around the world. Mormons believe that God's gospel is literally for everyone and that even those who have died should have the opportunity to receive sacred ordinances, though they are not obligated to accept the work done for them.
The Mormon Church puts strong emphasis on the importance of families and believes that through temple work, families and marriages can remain intact after death and throughout eternity. Children are considered a blessing and marriage is a sacred union not to be treated lightly. One of the things I've discovered as I've grown older is how important my family is to me and especially how empty my life would be without them.
The Mormon Church also has a health code of sorts known as the Word of Wisdom. Members of the Church do not smoke, drink alcohol or coffee, or use illegal drugs. Rather, the Church encourages its members to eat nutritious foods and stay healthy in mind and body. The Church's teachings in this areas are perhaps one of the best known things about it.
Education is also a priority for all members of the Mormon Church. The Church supports four institutions of higher education. I work at the largest of those, Brigham Young University. BYU has an enrollment of almost 30,000 students and has competitive entrance requirements. The average GPA of entering freshmen is 3.7. The Church also supports education in less developed parts of the world with the Perpetual Education Fund, giving loans to members of the church in these areas to further their education and make a better life for themselves and their families.
Last Modified: Sunday, 09-Apr-2006 10:57:29 MDT