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.

Selected article

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.

Selected biography

Sidney Rigdon (February 19, 1793 – July 14, 1876) was a leader during the early history of the Latter Day Saint movement. According to an 1875 account attributed to Sidney Rigdon's elder brother, as a child Rigdon had suffered an accident that caused a "contusion of the brain". His brother reportedly claimed that he "always considered Sidney a little deranged in his mind by that accident. His mental powers did not seem to be impaired, but the equilibrium in his intellectual exertions seemed thereby to have been sadly affected. He still manifested great mental activity and power, but he was to an equal degree inclined to run into wild and visionary views on almost every question. According to an account by his son John M. Rigdon, young Rigdon "borrowed all the histories he could get and began to read them. ... In this way he became a great historian, the best I ever saw. He seemed to have the history of the world on his tongue's end and he got to be a great biblical scholar as well. He was as familiar with the Bible as a child was with his spelling book. He was never known to play with the boys; reading books was the greatest pleasure he could get. He studied English Grammar alone and became a very fine grammarian. He was very precise in his language.

Selected Location

Winter Quarters was an encampment formed by approximately 2,500 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as they waited during the winter of 1846–47 for better conditions for their trek westward. It followed a preliminary tent settlement some 3½ miles west at Cutler's Park. The Mormons built more than 800 cabins at the Winter Quarters settlement. Located in present-day North Omaha overlooking the Missouri River, the settlement remained populated until 1848. Wintering Saints had left their homes in Nauvoo, Illinois on relatively short notice and brought limited useful supplies. Influential non-Mormon Thomas L. Kane, seeking to convince the LDS leadership to establish a volunteer military group (later known as the Mormon Battalion), received permission from the U.S. federal government for the group to encamp in Omaha Tribe lands, including the site of Cutler's Park. Conditions at the settlement remained primitive the first month, with pioneers living in tents while the men put up hay, found water and managed the cattle.

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