Portal:Latter-day Saints

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Stained glass depiction of the First Vision of Joseph Smith, Jr., completed in 1913 by an unknown artist (Church History Museum).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes referred to as the LDS Church or the Mormon Church, describes itself as the restoration of the original church established by Jesus Christ. It is classified as a Christian church; separate from the Catholic or Protestant traditions, though many of those denominations disavow the LDS Church.

The church teaches that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, Jr., called him to be a prophet and to restore the original church as established by Jesus Christ during his mortal ministry. This restoration is often referred to by members of the church as the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which they believe was had by prophets and righteous civilizations throughout the earlier history of the earth. The restoration included all elements that had been missing from Christianity since the early days of Christianity due to apostasy. This restoration included the return of priesthood authority, new sacred texts, and the continual calling of a prophet and twelve apostles. The LDS Church was organized under the leadership of Smith in Fayette, New York, on April 6, 1830, soon after Smith's translation of the Book of Mormon from which adherents—also called Latter-day Saints—get their nickname Mormons.

Smith led the church until he was killed in 1844. After a period of confusion during which the church was led by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and various claims of succession were made, Brigham Young led a group of Mormon pioneers away from the former church headquarters in Nauvoo, Illinois, and then eventually to Utah's Salt Lake Valley in July 1847. Young was sustained as the church's president at general conference in December 1847.

Now a more international organization, the church has its world headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah where Thomas S. Monson serves as its sixteenth president. The church sends tens of thousands of missionaries throughout the world yearly, with over 85,000 currently in service. As of December 31, 2013, the church reported a worldwide membership of 15,082,028, with more than 50% living outside the United States.

Selected article

An 1893 engraving depicting Joseph Smith's description of receiving artifacts from the angel Moroni. The artifacts include the golden plates and a set of spectacles made of seer stones, which Smith called the Urim and Thummim. The sword of Laban and an ancient breastplate are shown nearby.

According to Latter Day Saint belief, the golden plates (also called the gold plates or in some 19th century literature, the golden Bible) being golden or brassy in color, and being composed of metallic pages engraved on both sides and bound with one or more rings.

Smith said he found the plates on September 22, 1823 at a hill near his home in Manchester, New York after an angel directed him to a buried stone box. The angel at first prevented Smith from taking the plates because he had not followed the angel's instructions. In 1827, on his fourth annual attempt to retrieve the plates, Smith returned home with a heavy object wrapped in a frock, which he then put in a box. Though he allowed others to heft the box, he said that the angel had forbidden him to show the plates to anyone until they had been translated from their original "reformed Egyptian" language. Smith dictated a translation using a seer stone in the bottom of a hat, which he placed over his face to view the words written within the stone. Smith published the translation in 1830 as the Book of Mormon.

Smith, following what he claimed as revelation on the matter, gathered the testimonies of eleven men, known as the Book of Mormon witnesses, who said they had seen the plates. After the translation was complete, Smith said he returned the plates to their angelic guardian. Therefore, if the plates existed, they cannot now be examined. Latter Day Saints believe the account of the golden plates as a matter of faith, while critics often assert that either Smith manufactured the plates himself or that the Book of Mormon witnesses based their testimony on visions rather than physical experience. Apologists for the LDS Church note that none of the witnesses, even those who were at one point excommunicated from the church, have ever denied their testimony of having seen the plates, or refuted what they believed to be the plates' divinely-inspired origin.

Selected picture

Still from The Life of Nephi
Credit: Zion Curtains

LDS or Mormon cinema (informally Mollywood, a portmanteau of Molly Mormon and Hollywood typically refers to films with themes relevant to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, though the terminology has also been used to refer to films that do not necessarily reflect Mormon themes but have been made by Mormon filmmakers.

Selected history

The Three Witnesses as depicted by Edward Hart, 1883: Oliver Cowdery (top), David Whitmer (left), and Martin Harris (right).

The Three Witnesses is the collective name for three men connected with the early Latter Day Saint movement who stated that an angel had shown them the golden plates from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon; they also stated that they had heard God's voice, informing them that the book had been translated by divine power. The Three are part of twelve Book of Mormon witnesses, who also include Smith and the Eight Witnesses. The joint statement of the Three Witnesses—Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer—has been printed (with a separate statement by the Eight Witnesses) in nearly every edition of the Book of Mormon since its first publication in 1830. All three men eventually broke with Smith and the church he organized, although Harris and Cowdery were eventually rebaptized into the church after Smith's death. Whitmer founded his own Church of Christ (Whitmerite). All three men upheld their testimony of the Book of Mormon at their deaths. In 1838, Joseph Smith called Cowdery, Harris, and Whitmer "too mean to mention; and we had liked to have forgotten them." Technically, Whitmer resigned before the High Council decided that he "be no longer considered a member of the Church of Christ of Latter day Saints."


Selected Location

The Oakland California Temple

The Oakland California Temple (formerly the Oakland Temple) is the 15th constructed and 13th operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The temple was announced on May 26, 1962, and dedicated on November 19, 1964, by David O. McKay. Located in the city of Oakland, California, at 4770 Lincoln Ave, it is the only LDS temple built with a modern five-spire design and exhibits an Oriental motif. Its architect was Harold W. Burton. The exterior of the temple is reinforced concrete faced with sierra white granite from Raymond, California. On the north and south faces of the temple are two decorative friezes; it is the last LDS temple to have such. The back (south side) is a depiction of Christ descending from heaven to the people of the American continent soon after his resurrection in the Holy Land. The front (north side) illustrates Christ preaching his gospel to the people. Within the front garden courtyard there is a statue of children in front of a bronze plaque bearing a scripture from 3 Nephi chapter 17, from the Book of Mormon, relating how Christ blessed the children during his visit to the people of ancient America.

Selected biography

Spencer W. Kimball

Spencer Woolley Kimball (March 28, 1895 – November 5, 1985) was an American business, civic, and religious leader, and was the twelfth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The grandson of early Latter-day Saint apostle Heber C. Kimball, Kimball was born in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, but spent most of his early life in Thatcher, Arizona, where his father, Andrew, farmed and served as the area's stake president. He served an LDS mission from 1914 to 1916, then worked for various banks in Arizona's Gila Valley as a clerk and bank teller. In late 1973, following the sudden death of church president Harold B. Lee, Kimball became the twelfth president of the LDS Church, a position he held until his death in 1985. Kimball's presidency was noted for the church's 1978 announcement ending the restriction on church members of black African descent being ordained to the priesthood or receiving temple ordinances. Kimball's presidency saw large growth in the LDS church, both in terms of membership and the number of LDS temples, as well as a large increase in the number of full-time LDS missionaries, as Kimball was the first church president to publicly state that the church expected all able-bodied male members to serve missions in young adulthood.

Selected Quotes

The Book of Alma
Chapter 7

Christ will be born of Mary—He will loose the bands of death and bear the sins of His people—Those who repent, are baptized, and keep the commandments will have eternal life—Filthiness cannot inherit the kingdom of God—Humility, faith, hope, and charity are required.

1 Behold my beloved brethren, seeing that I have been permitted to come unto you, therefore I attempt to address you in my language; yea, by my own mouth, seeing that it is the first time that I have spoken unto you by the words of my mouth, I having been wholly confined to the judgment-seat, having had much business that I could not come unto you.

2 And even I could not have come now at this time were it not that the judgment-seat hath been given to another, to reign in my stead; and the Lord in much mercy hath granted that I should come unto you.

3 And behold, I have come having great hopes and much desire that I should find that ye had humbled yourselves before God, and that ye had continued in the supplicating of his grace, that I should find that ye were blameless before him, that I should find that ye were not in the awful dilemma that our brethren were in at Zarahemla.

4 But blessed be the name of God, that he hath given me to know, yea, hath given unto me the exceedingly great joy of knowing that they are established again in the way of his righteousness.

5 And I trust, according to the Spirit of God which is in me, that I shall also have joy over you; nevertheless I do not desire that my joy over you should come by the cause of so much afflictions and sorrow which I have had for the brethren at Zarahemla, for behold, my joy cometh over them after wading through much affliction and sorrow.

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