Mormon is a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Their modern history began in the early 1800’s in New England when a fourteen-year-old boy named Joseph Smith was trying to decide, as were so many in his area, which church to join. Many revivals were being held and people were quite excited about the subject of religion. Joseph was interested, and he wanted to make just the right choice. But how did one decide? The sects taught conflicting information, and all claimed to have the truth. One day, while reading the Bible, he read:
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed (James, chapter 1, King James Version of the Bible).
This made complete sense to him. Who knew better than God which church was true? He went to the woods near his home, found a secluded area, and began to pray. In time, God and Jesus appeared to the young boy. This follows the pattern of God revealing Himself to His prophets:
And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Exodus 33:11, King James Version of the Bible).
Joseph later recorded the vision in his own words:
I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (vv. 16–17).
Joseph, as soon as he was able to speak, asked the Savior which church he was to join, and he was instructed not to join any of them, because none taught the complete truth.
In time, when he was a grown man, he would receive further visions that would begin his training, through the tutelage of an angel, to assist in bringing forth the restoration of the gospel as the Savior orignally organized it. He would translate a record of a people who lived on the American continent and who knew of, and received a visit from, the Savior.
To learn more about the history of the Church, we invite you to read “Church History in the Fullness of Times.”
From this small beginning, the Church has continued to grow. It began with six members in a log cabin in 1830. Today, it has over thirteen million members world-wide. The National Council of Churches lists it as the second-fastest growing church in the United States. This is another way we differ from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is believed to have only 10,000 members, largely in the western United States, in closed and isolated communities.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is known for many of its programs. You may have seen clean-cut looking young missionaries going door-to-door or talking to people on the street. Unlike the FLDS, we have a strong tradition of sharing our message of the Savior with those around us. We feel it important to bring his gospel to all of God’s children.
The Church is also known for its emphasis on family, self-reliance, and humanitarian work. As you explore this site, you’ll have opportunities to learn what the restored church is doing today. We’re not in a closed compound—we’re out in the world, all 13 million of us, making a difference.