Portal:History of the Latter Day Saint movement

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History of the Latter Day Saint movement

An 1893 engraving depicting Joseph Smith's description of receiving artifacts from the angel Moroni.

The History of the Latter Day Saint movement is a religious movement within Christianity that arose during the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century and that led to the set of doctrines, practices, and cultures called Mormonism and to the existence of numerous Latter Day Saint churches. Its history is characterized by intense controversy and persecution in reaction to some of the movement's doctrines and practices and their relationship to mainstream Christianity (see Mormonism and Christianity). The purpose of this article is to give an overview of the different groups, beliefs, and denominations that began with the influence of Joseph Smith.

The founder of the Latter Day Saint movement was Joseph Smith, who was raised in the Burned-over district of Upstate New York. He claimed that, in response to prayer, he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, as well as angels and other visions. This eventually led him to a restoration of Christian doctrine that, he said, was lost after the early Christian apostles were killed. In addition, several early leaders made marked doctrinal and leadership contributions to the movement, including Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and Brigham Young. Modern-day revelation from God continues to be a principal belief of the Mormon faith.

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A reconstruction of the original Peter Whitmer Home in Fayette, New York.

The Church of Christ was the original name of the Latter Day Saint church founded by Joseph Smith. Organized informally in 1829 in northwestern New York and then formally on April 6, 1830, it was the first organization to implement the principles found in Smith's newly published Book of Mormon, and thus represents the formal beginning of the Latter Day Saint movement. Later names for this organization included the Church of the Latter Day Saints (by 1834 resolution), the Church of Jesus Christ, the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (by an 1838 revelation). Smith and his associates asserted that the Church of Christ was a restoration of the 1st-century Christian church, which Smith claimed had fallen from God's favor and authority because of what he called a "Great Apostasy". After Smith's death in 1844, there was a crisis of authority, with the majority of the members following Brigham Young to Utah Territory, but with several smaller denominations remaining in Illinois or settling in Missouri and in other states. Each of the churches that resulted from this schism considers itself to be the rightful continuation of Smith's original "Church of Christ", regardless of the name they may currently bear (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), Community of Christ, The Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite), Church of Christ (Temple Lot), etc.). This church is unrelated to other bodies bearing the same name, including the United Church of Christ, a Reformed church body, and the Churches of Christ, an offshoot of the Campbellite movement. Today, there are several Latter Day Saint churches called "Church of Christ", largely within the Hedrickite branch of the movement.

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Beginning in 1835, a new calling of "Recorder for the Church" was created, with Oliver Cowdery being the first appointee.

Church Historian and Recorder (usually shortened to Church Historian) is a priesthood calling in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The role of the Church Historian and Recorder is to keep an accurate and comprehensive record of the church and its activities. His office gathers history sources and preserves records, ordinances, minutes, revelations, procedures, and other documents. The Church Historian and Recorder also chairs the Historic Sites Committee and Records Management Committee, and may act as an authoritative voice of the church in historical matters. This office is based on revelations to Joseph Smith calling for keeping records and preparing a church history. Oliver Cowdery, the first in this position, originally recorded meeting minutes, patriarchal blessings, membership information, priesthood ordinations, and a kind of narrative church history. For a time, the callings of Church Historian and Church Recorder were separate, but in 1842 these callings were merged and now the Church Historian also acts as the Church Recorder.

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The Church History Library in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah houses materials chronicling the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). This new building opened to the public on June 22, 2009. A new archives building was originally planned in 1960, as an 11-story home for the offices and libraries of the Church Historian and the Genealogical Society of Utah. The need for such large facilities diminished due to advances in modern document preservation, as well as with the 1963 completion of the Granite Mountain Vault, which had vast storage for genealogical materials. Following the completion of the Church Office Building in 1972, the Church Historian's Office and Church History Library resided in the four floors of the east wing.

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