Portal:Latter Day Saints

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The Latter Day Saints Movement

Portrait of Joseph Smith, Jr
An 1842 portrait of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement

The Latter Day Saint movement (also called the LDS movement or LDS restorationist movement) is the collection of independent church groups that trace their origins to a Christian primitivist movement founded by Joseph Smith in the late 1820s. Collectively, these churches have over 15 million members.

The movement began in western New York during the Second Great Awakening when Smith said that he received visions revealing a new sacred text, the Book of Mormon, which he published in 1830 as a complement to the Bible. Based on the teachings of this book and other revelations, Smith founded a Christian primitivist church, called the "Church of Christ". The Book of Mormon attracted hundreds of early followers, who later became known as "Mormons", "Latter Day Saints", or just "Saints." In 1831, Smith moved the church headquarters to Kirtland, Ohio, and in 1838 changed its name to the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."

After Smith's death in 1844, a succession crisis led to the organization splitting into several groups. The largest of these, the LDS Church, migrated under the leadership of Brigham Young to the Great Basin (now Utah) and became most prominently known for its 19th-century practice of polygamy.

The vast majority of Latter Day Saint adherents belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). A minority of Latter Day Saint adherents, such as members of the Community of Christ, believe in traditional Protestant theology, and have distanced themselves from some of the distinctive doctrines of Mormonism. Other groups include the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which supports lineal succession of leadership from Smith's descendants, and the more controversial Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which defends the practice of polygamy.

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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) were golden or brassy in color, and were 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.

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The Auditorium (formerly the RLDS Auditorium) is a house of worship and office building located on the greater Temple Lot in Independence, Missouri. The Auditorium is part of the headquarters complex of the Community of Christ which also includes the Independence Temple. Construction of the Auditorium was a massive undertaking, illustrating the vision of church Prophet/President Frederick M. Smith who provided the building's inspiration. Groundbreaking began in 1926 and the building was only completed in 1958. The Conference Chamber was originally supposed to be about 66% larger than it is today according to the vision of Frederick M. Smith. Construction was virtually halted during the Great Depression when the church struggled under a massive debt. The Auditorium houses an Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ with 113 ranks and 6,334 pipes. The Auditorium Organ includes an antiphonal console and pipes in the rear balcony of the oval chamber. It is listed as one of the top 75 largest pipe organs in the world.

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Headquarters and sole branch of the Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite) in Independence, Missouri

The Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite) is a denomination of the Latter Day Saint movement headquartered in Independence, Missouri, United States. The church derives its epithet from its founder, Alpheus Cutler, a member of the Nauvoo High Council and of Joseph Smith's Council of Fifty. Cutler justified his establishment of an independent church organization by asserting that God had "rejected" Smith's organization—but not his priesthood—following Smith's death, but that Smith had named Cutler to a singular "Quorum of Seven" in anticipation of this event, with a unique prerogative to reorganize the church that no one beyond this group possessed. Hence, Cutler's organization claims to be the only legitimate Latter Day Saint church in the world today. Currently, it has only one branch, located in Independence. The Cutlerite church retains an endowment ceremony believed to date to the Nauvoo period, practices the United Order of Enoch, and accepts baptism for the dead, but not eternal marriage or polygamy.

The Cutlerites do not conduct missionary work or actively solicit converts, because they believe that God rejected the "Gentiles" following the death of Joseph Smith, and thus there can be no more active missionary work among them (as is done in the LDS Church and other Latter Day Saint churches). Membership was listed at 22 in 1957, and has declined further since then. The current church president (as of 2013) is Vernon Whiting.

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Image of Smith created by Bathsheba W. Smith

Joseph Smith, Jr. (December 23, 1805 – June 27, 1844) was an American religious leader who restored the Latter Day Saint movement, a restorationist ideology that gave rise to a heretical Christian sect called Mormonism.

Smith's followers revere him as the first latter Day prophet, the "Prophet of the Restoration", called by God to restore the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This restoration included announcement that God had directly communicated with man; the introduction of another testament of Jesus Christ (the Book of Mormon); the return of priesthood authority to act in the name of God; the building of temples; and the restoration of the Kingdom of God on earth (Zion). Smith was (and remains) a very controversial figure; his teachings were known to inspire deep devotion in his followers, yet deep, personal hostility and even hatred from his detractors. Smith was also a political and military leader of the American West.

Smith taught a form of Christian restorationist doctrines, such as the idea that Christianity had been in a state of apostasy, which could be restored by modern prophecy and revelation from God. In other cases, the doctrines were unique to Mormonism.

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Joseph Smith, Sr.jpg

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Did you know...

...that Latter Day Saints believe in the Holy Bible (both Old and New Testament)?

...that, according to Mormonism, the Book of Mormon is another Testament of Jesus Christ?

...that Joseph Smith: The Prophet of the Restoration is a 2005 film that focuses on some of the events during the life of Joseph Smith?

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