The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently referred to by friends of other faiths as the “Mormon” Church) was organized on April 6, 1830, in New York, U.S.A., by a prophet named Joseph Smith. Joseph was a young man of 14 when he prayed to know which church of all the many denominations was true. He received a vision of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. They told Joseph that none of the churches retained the fulness of the gospel which Christ established on the earth during His life. Over the next ten years, Joseph received more visions and instruction to prepare him to restore the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Joseph and other Mormons, as they soon became called (after a book of scripture which Joseph translated from ancient records, called the Book of Mormon), were heavily persecuted. Throughout Mormon history, they were driven from place to place, often violently. They were thrown out of Missouri by Governor Boggs’ famous Extermination Order. They were later kicked out of Kirtland, Ohio, as well. They finally chose a swamp in Illinois to settle in. After much work in draining the swamp, with many Saints suffering malaria and other diseases, Nauvoo, Illinois, emerged as a gem out the formerly inhospitable landscape. Here the Saints built what they thought would be a permanent home. However, tensions continued to rise, and on June 27, 1844, Joseph Smith, Jr., and his brother, Hyrum Smith, were martyred at Carthage Jail.
Joseph had been in and out of jail on false charges myriad times, but this time he knew he was going “as a lamb to the slaughter.” He faced his death bravely, and he and Hyrum were both greatly mourned. Brigham Young became the next prophet and president of the Mormon Church. The direction of Mormon history was still governed by Jesus Christ through his prophet, and Brigham Young, following revelations which Joseph had been given before his death, led the Saints out of Illinois and out of the United States, to what later became the Utah Territory. They fled civilization and a beautiful home to seek refuge in a bleak, barren wasteland of desert so that they could be free to practice their religion. Persecution continued to follow them, though, and in some ways, that persecution still exists today. However, the Saints were able to build the Salt Lake Temple, as well as two other temples in Utah. They lived up to the high standards of their religion and were blessed for it. The Mormon Church continued to grow, and missionaries continued to bring people to Utah from all over the world. Utah began to explode with growth, and Brigham Young sent people all over the Great Basin to colonize the area. Finally, the Church had grown so much in Utah, that Church leaders told new converts to stay in their home states and home countries and to help build up the Church where they were. In consequence, Mormonism is now a worldwide religion, with about 14 million members and more members outside of the United States than in.
The Mormon Church has developed amazing welfare and humanitarian aid programs, it continues to build temples all over the world, and its missionary program is unsurpassed. The success of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lies in its doctrine and foundation on principles which were given (and continue to be given) directly to modern-day prophets who have the authority of the priesthood directly from Jesus Christ.
For more information on Mormon history, visit historyofmormonism.com
A Word about Polygamy
The media has done a lot lately about polygamy and the Mormon Church. This is not surprising, since Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) has been arrested for bigamy. In addition, two popular TV shows, “Big Love” on HBO and “Sister Wives” on TLC, have brought the issue to the front.
The fact is, however, none of these things is associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The FLDS broke off from the Mormon Church more than 100 years ago, when leaders of the Mormon Church were instructed, by God, to discontinue the practice of polygamy. After this declaration, the Church stated it would excommunicate any members who continued to perform new polygamous marriages. “Big Love” claims to be about Mormons, but no faithful Mormons today are involved in the practice of polygamy. Members of the TV show “Sister Wives” are part of a sect that is also not a part of the Mormon Church. It is interesting to note that those who do continue the practice of polygamy are small and reclusive. They separate themselves from mainstream society. Faithful, practicing Mormons, however, are everywhere and are a large part of society today.
The practice of polygamy in Mormon history began with the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith. He was commanded by God to practice polygamy and to give the principle to the members of the Church. Joseph and other leaders struggled mightily with this principle. Not a single one of them wanted to live it. They were commanded by God, however, so those who were called (which was a very small percentage of faithful members of the Church—the commandment was never given generally to the members) agreed to live this law. Some members of the Church actually became disaffected and left the Church over the practice of polygamy.
Though Joseph Smith did have more than one wife, his were mostly spiritual. The understanding was that they would be sealed to him in heaven, but he only had children with his first wife, Emma Smith. Brigham Young and other Church leaders did have children by more than one wife, and this practice continued for several decades. Persecution was great, and the Saints were stripped of many of their rights. Some of them had to go into hiding. After several years of this, the Lord revealed to then-prophet Wilford Woodruff that if the Saints continued to practice, the government would invade their temples and they would no longer be able to worship how they chose. The order to stop practicing polygamy did not come from President Woodruff because of worldly pressure. God revealed to President Woodruff when the time came that He no longer required it of His people.
Some members defied this revelation and believed that President Woodruff had succumbed to worldly pressure. They left the Church and began to practice polygamy on their own. From the time they chose to not follow the prophet any more, they cut themselves off from the Church.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, fifteenth president of the Mormon Church, made the following statement at a General Conference of the Church in October of 1998:
“I wish to state categorically that this Church has nothing whatever to do with those practicing polygamy. They are not members of this Church. Most of them have never been members. They are in violation of the civil law. They know they are in violation of the law. They are subject to its penalties. The Church, of course, has no jurisdiction whatever in this matter.
“If any of our members are found to be practicing plural marriage, they are excommunicated, the most serious penalty the Church can impose. Not only are those so involved in direct violation of the civil law, they are in violation of the law of this Church. An article of our faith is binding upon us. It states, ‘We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law’ (Articles of Faith 1:12). One cannot obey the law and disobey the law at the same time.
“There is no such thing as a ‘Mormon Fundamentalist.’ It is a contradiction to use the two words together.”
For more information on Mormon polygamy, see mormon-polygamy.org.
As part of the Mormon Church’s welfare program, their humanitarian aid program is internationally recognized. Over the past 25 years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (as it is officially known), has helped in 201 major disaster relief efforts, including the following: Haitian earthquake, 2010; Chilean earthquake, 2010; Pakistani flood, 2010; Samoan tsunami, 2009; Filipino typhoon, 2009; Indonesian earthquake, 2009; Ethiopian famine, 2008; and the Peruvian earthquake, 2007–2009.
Since 1985, the Mormon Church has donated $1.3 billion in humanitarian assistance efforts. These efforts are for more than natural disasters. They also include programs which strengthen the self-reliance of individuals, families, and communities. These programs are made possible by hundreds of full-time volunteers with skills and experience in such diverse areas as education, agriculture, social work, business, and medicine. More than 178 countries and territories have benefited from the service of relief or improvement efforts. Food (63,377 tons), medical supplies (14,345 tons), and clothing (93,196 tons) have all been donated, as well as 11.1 million hygiene, newborn, and school kits. These are truly staggering numbers. In fact, the Mormon Church’s humanitarian aid program is so well organized that it is often one of the first groups allowed in to help in natural disasters.
Some of the other programs the Mormon humanitarian aid effort includes are: clean water, neonatal resuscitation training, vision care, wheelchairs, food production, and immunizations.
The clean water program helps communities with no access to clean water build wells or other water systems to ensure they all have clean drinking water.
The neonatal resuscitation program trains individuals in countries with limited medical resources to help newborns revive. Since 2002, more than 193,000 health care workers have been trained in these life-saving techniques.
The vision care program has helped more than 550,000 people worldwide get vision treatment since 2003. The Church has provided training, equipment, and supplies to assist local eye care professionals and programs.
The wheelchair program provides wheelchairs for rough terrain, hospital wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, and canes. Since 2002, more than 415,000 people have received one of these devices.
The food production program provides training and tools for home food production, food storage, nutrition training, and preparation techniques to help families become more self-reliant. Since 2002, nearly 40,000 people have been helped through this program.
Through the vaccination program, the Mormon Church has contributed financially to, and 59,000 of its members have volunteered in, 35 countries since 2003 for a combined effort with other worldwide programs of a 92 percent reduction in measles deaths in Africa and a 78 percent reduction of measles worldwide. An estimated 4.3 million lives have been saved.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues to contribute on an international level to humanitarian aid efforts because Mormon doctrine teaches that each person is a child of God and has divine worth and potential.
The principle of charity discussed in Matthew 25:35–36 tells us that we should clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and visit the sick and those in prison is held close to the heart of Mormon doctrine. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the Mormon Church), has an outstanding welfare program to help its members, and often those who have no affiliation with the Church at all. The underlying principle is that people should be helped to help themselves. Idleness is a sin, and work is an eternal principle of Mormon doctrine. Therefore, handouts are almost as sinful as not giving anything at all because that practice is not, in fact, truly helping the individual. On the other hand, Mormon doctrine teaches that we are not to judge those who stand in need, but should give freely (Mosiah 4). Also, each person should work hard to provide for him- or herself.
Mormon doctrine teaches that the responsibility for an individual’s temporal and spiritually welfare lies principally upon the individually, secondly upon the family, and lastly upon the Church. If a family is doing all they can and are still failing to provide the necessary help, the bishop’s counsel and guidance is sought. To assist bishops in meeting the needs of those in their congregations, The Mormon Church has established storehouses, projects, thrift stores, employment centers, and family services offices. These are run largely by the donated time, talents, and skills of other Church members.
The following statistics were released by the Mormon Church in 2010 and include just a few of the elements which comprise the whole welfare effort:
- Days of labor donated to Church welfare facilities: 777,381
- Employment an dtraining placements: 168,713
- Total number of:
- Storehouses 143
- Storage and distribution facilities 36
- Employment resource centers 326
- Deseret Industries thrift stores 43
- LDS Family Services offices 79
Welfare Square is the main center of the Mormon Church’s welfare program. “Since its humble beginnings in the midst of the Great Depression, Welfare Square has emerged as a powerful example of what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints does throughout the world to care for the poor, foster self-reliance, and provide meaningful opportunities for work and service. Welfare Square is a modern facility composed of a 178-foot-tall grain elevator, a large storehouse, a bakery, a cannery, a milk processing operation, a thrift store, and an employment center—all designed to help people help themselves.” Mormons are invited to donate their labor to welfare square, where the Church produces vast quanitites of food at minimal cost.
In addition to donating time and labor, Mormons are invited to fast the first Sunday of every month, which means they refrain from eating or drinking for two consecutive meals. They are then encouraged to donate what money they would have spent on these meals in the form of fast offerings to the bishop of their ward, or congregation. These funds are then used to help members of that congregation. If there are no members in need, the bishop sends excess funds to church headquarters, where they are redistributed as necessary.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been internationally recognized for its immense humanitarian aid efforts as well, which fall under the umbrella of the welfare program.
Music plays a large role in Mormon worship services. Most meetings, including all Sunday worship services, open with a hymn. All hymns contain elements of Mormon doctrine, and many are taught to children at a young age because music is so powerful in conveying feeling and meaning and is so easy to learn and remember. Music is considered so important that a modern revelation was given to Mormon prophet Joseph Smith regarding its role in worship just months after the Mormon Church was officially organized in 1830. Doctrine and Covenants Section 25 was directed to Emma Smith, the prophet’s wife, instructing her to compile a book of sacred hymns for Church use. Over many years, new hymns have been written and old traditional Christian hymns are still cherished in the current edition of the Latter-day Saint hymnal. Below are links to some of the hymns where you can listen to the music and the lyrics.
- Beautiful Savior
- I Know that My Redeemer Lives
- My Shepherd Will Supply my Need (Spanish)
- Be Still my Soul
- As Now We Take the Sacrament
- An Angel from On High
- Abide with Me, ‘Tis Eventide
- A Mighty Fortress is our God
- A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief
- Come Follow Me
- Come, Come, Ye Saints
- Come Unto Jesus
- Christ the Lord is Risen Today
- Behold the Great Redeemer Die
- Battle Hymn of the Republic
- Father in Heaven, We Do Believe
- Families Can Be Together Forever
- Dearest Children, God is Near You
- God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand
- God Be With You Till We Meet Again
- I Am a Child of God
- Hark, The Herald Angels Sing
- Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King
- In Memory of the Crucified
- I Believe in Christ
- Love at Home
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, called America’s choir by former U.S. president Ronald Reagan, is the only connection many people have with Mormons and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This choir was officially formed in 1869 and has grown in talent and fame ever since. There are currently 360 members of the choir, all of them volunteers, who sing every Sunday in a radio and TV broadcast called Music and the Spoken Word. They have released more than 130 compilations since forming and are enjoyed by millions of people all over the world.
In addition to singing hymns in worship, Mormons are encouraged to be selective in the popular music they listen to, because music can be powerful in both positive and negative ways. Latter-day Saints are encouraged to be selective in their music by making sure lyrics and subject matter are clean and promote a good message.
There have been many successful Mormons in the music industry. Donny Osmond is one of the most well-known Mormon artists. Current pop artist David Archuleta is another who has recently risen to fame. Gladys Knight is another. There are many Mormons who rise to fame in the classical music industry as well, like the 5 Browns.
Music will continue to be a key part of worship service in the Mormon Church because it is so effective in bringing the Holy Spirit and in touching people’s hearts.
You may have come across a few Mormons in your life. Sometimes they seem to stick out because of their lifestyle choices. Mormons (also called Latter-day Saints) do not drink alcohol. Nor do they do drugs (including tobacco). They do not have sex before marriage. They are also modest in dress, speech, and actions. At least, these are all things that Mormon doctrine teaches, but individuals are, of course, free to make their own decisions.
The Mormon Church has very high standards, according to the world’s opinion. Most of the things which Mormons refrain from doing are now acceptable and even expected in the rest of the world’s societies. This can make it difficult to be strong at times and to hold oneself to a higher standard. You may wonder why anyone would choose to live such a seemingly restricted life. However, Mormons who understand the doctrines underlying these principles of lifestyle and behavior can see that it is not even a sacrifice to live a higher standard. It in fact gives them more freedom in their lives.
When a person refrains from taking harmful substances into the body, he or she will never run the risk of becoming addicted to those substances and will never be bound by those cravings. A person who chooses abstinence before marriage and fidelity inside of marriage never runs the risk of contracting STDs or birthing a child out of wedlock. A person who chooses to dress modestly is less likely to attract the wrong kind of attention from the wrong kind of people and can protect him- or herself more fully from falling into this kind of danger.
Many people notice something different about Mormons apart from their lifestyles. Often people comment that these people seem genuinely happy and at peace, often even despite large trials in their lives. When Latter-day Saints live the gospel of Jesus Christ fully, they do have happiness and peace. This joy enters the lives of all who chooses to follow the commandments of our Savior. This is because the whole point of the Plan of Salvation is joy and happiness. We, as God’s children, are meant to be happy. Everyone will have trials; that is part of life. The difference between those who are unhappy and those who are happy is their relationship with their Savior and their perspective on this life.
Though the lifestyle of Mormons tends to set them apart, it is also a joyful lifestyle. Mormon doctrine teaches that true joy, happiness, and fun all come when we treat ourselves and those around us with respect and kindness.
Mormon doctrine teaches that all members should pay a tithe to the Lord. A tithe is defined as 10 percent of one’s increase. This was an ancient law, which is referenced in the Old Testament when Abraham went to pay his tithing to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18–20). The law of tithing was restored when the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored through Joseph Smith (Doctrine and Covenants 119).
The law of tithing is a serious enough commandment that it is a requirement for one to be worthy to enter the temple of God. The funds from tithing do not go to the clergy of the Church. All Mormon clergy serve on a volunteer-type basis. All time and services are donated, and no funds are received in compensation. Tithing funds are used to help build and maintain church meetinghouses, temples, and other facilities. Tithing is also used in part for missionary support and for the educational and welfare programs of the Mormon Church.
There is no type of audit to make sure one is a full tithe payer. At the end of each year, one has the opportunity to meet with the bishop of the congregation. If you declare yourself a full tithe payer, the bishop simply notes that and that goes on Church records.
Fast offerings go hand-in-hand with tithes, yet they are separate. While funds from tithing go directly to Mormon Church headquarters, fast offerings stay within one’s congregation (unless there is no need for the money; then excess will also be sent to Church headquarters). The first Sunday of every month is set aside as a fast Sunday. All members whose health permits are invited to fast from food and drink for two consecutive meals. They are then invited to donate the funds they would have spent on those two meals to the ward (or congregation). All tithing and fast offering funds go through the bishop. He will then assess the need of ward members and allocate fast offering funds as necessary. If a ward is doing well enough they do not need these funds, the excess are sent to Church headquarters to be redistributed as necessary.
Observing both the law of tithing and the fast bring enormous blessings to Latter-day Saints. When one donates money to the fast offering, he or she does not know to whom that money will go. It is a pure form of charity and love. By paying an honest (or full) tithe, one is showing gratitude to God for all he or she has received and is willing to share those blessings with others.
Many people think it is very weird when they hear that Mormons have “special underwear,” which is far different than “normal people’s” underwear.
Members of the Mormon Church who have gone through the Mormon temple ceremony, or endowment, make a promise to God to wear particular undergarments. The Mormon garments (or Mormon underwear) are an outward expression of an inward commitment, a physical reminder of spiritual promises (or covenants) a person made when he or she went through the temple for the first time. In this way, Mormon undergarments, or just “garments,” are very similar to religious clothing priests wear. They are reminders to those who wear them of the covenants made in the temple of God.
“It [the garment] is given to remind wearers of the continuing need for repentance, the need to honor binding covenants made in the house of the Lord, and the need to cherish and share virtue in our daily living so that promised blessings may be claimed” (Carlos E. Asay, “The Temple Garment: “An Outward Expression of an Inward Commitment””, Ensign, Aug. 1997, 19).
Modesty is a principle of Mormon doctrine, and Mormon underwear (or the Mormon garment) helps wearers to keep this principle. Garments generally come down to the knee. They also cover the shoulders, chest, and back, for women — following the bra line. Clothing should always cover the midriff section, as well. There are obviously some occasions when wearing the garment would be impractical, like when swimming. The underlying principle to when one should and should not wear the garment is as follows:
The fundamental principle ought to be to wear the garment and not to find occasions to remove it. Thus, members should not remove either all or part of the garment to work in the yard or to lounge around the home in swimwear or immodest clothing. Nor should they remove it to participate in recreational activities that can reasonably be done with the garment worn properly beneath regular clothing. When the garment must be removed, such as for swimming, it should be restored as soon as possible.
The principles of modesty and keeping the body appropriately covered are implicit in the covenant and should govern the nature of all clothing worn. Endowed members of the Church wear the garment as a reminder of the sacred covenants they have made with the Lord and also as a protection against temptation and evil. How it is worn is an outward expression of an inward commitment to follow the Savior (Carlos E. Asay).
Separate garments are made for men and women and are designed to be close fitting to the body. The clothing which is worn over them should not be so tight it shows the outlines of the garment, nor should it be sheer enough to see the garment through the fabric. However, the garments are designed so modest fashionable clothing can be worn over it with no problems. They are sold individually as tops and bottoms in different fabrics and styles to suit different preferences, but all are modest and follow the same basic design. There are also garments designed especially for military personnel, which are fashioned to look like regulation military underwear.
Those who truly understand what the garment represents will never treat it lightly. It is not only a reminder of covenants made, but also of the wonderful blessings which are promised if one is faithful to those covenants. Protection from the power of Satan is one of these promises. Mormon underwear can be likened to the armor of God which Paul speaks of in Ephesians 6:11–17. It is the only physical reminder one can take from the temple and always have with him to remember the great spiritual truths learned in the temple.
The Mormon garment is a sacred part of the temple ceremony, and thus is not worn openly, nor should it be treated flippantly. Only endowed members of the Mormon Church are able to purchase garments. This is because they are sacred and should be treated with respect. One who has not been through the temple does not understand what the garment represents, and thus is unlikely to treat it with proper respect.
Those Mormons who have participated in the endowment ceremony know how special the garment is and wear it properly, with the right attitude.
Mormons are often easily identified by their lifestyle. Mormon doctrine teaches that we should not partake of alcohol, take tobacco in any form, drink coffee or tea, or take any substance which is harmful to the body. In addition, we should take care of our bodies by getting enough rest and exercise and eating in moderation.
When the Word of Wisdom is combined with the Law of Chastity (that no one should participate in sexual intimacy outside the bonds of marriage), the world often looks and says, “How awful! You aren’t allowed to have any fun at all!” When one truly understand the Mormon doctrine behind these principles, however, it is readily apparent that the Word of Wisdom gives us far more freedom than it takes away.
Doctrine and Covenants 89:4 says, “Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation.” Perhaps at the time the Word of Wisdom was given to the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, this did not make as much sense as it does now. Through science, we have a far better understanding than we once did about the powerful addiction that drinking alcohol and doing drugs can have on an individual. Even addiction to coffee can wreak havoc in one’s life. While it is true that not everyone will become addicted to these substances, it is undeniable that if one never drinks alcohol or never smokes a cigarette then her or she will never be addicted to either of them. Both science and investigative journalism have also revealed the connection between these substances and “conspiring men.” The destructive and addictive properties have been hidden by their manufacturers, or slick marketing has created bogus attractions for these substances.
Anyone who has ever been addicted to a substance or behavior will tell you how confining it is. The addiction takes away their choices in many ways. They become slaves to their cravings and appetites. No one can doubt the motives behind big businessmen who make these products: if they can get you addicted, they have a returning customer. There is nothing that any of these substances can bring you which is worth the risk of everything they can take away. This Mormon doctrine
Addiction aside, there are other effects alcohol alone may have on your judgment and skill. You may make very poor choices under the influence of drugs or alcohol which you would never make when not under their influence. Or, you may unintentionally hurt someone else when you do not have your own behavior under control. Studies say that college students who drink commit unintentional sexual acts 25 percent of the time. When both a guy and a girl drink that percentage is doubled.
God promises that those who live the Word of Wisdom:
“Shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures;And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them” (D&C 89:18–21).
Living the Word of Wisdom is not a restriction for those who truly understand the gospel of Jesus Christ and Mormon doctrine. It is a blessing to them, which helps them to live a better life free from the pain that can come from the abuse of such things. It provides them with a clarity of mind and health of body and spirit. It provides more freedom and helps those who live it to make better choices in their lives. Those who live it understand that true joy and friendship comes from loving one another and from lifting each other up to be better people, not but succumbing to the world’s standards and views of happiness, which are all fleeting.
Many people criticize Mormons for having more scripture than the Bible. In fact, a lot of people think that Mormons don’t believe in the Bible at all. This is not true. Mormons believe the Bible to be the word of God, but only insofar as it has been translated correctly (Article of Faith 8). Over thousands of years, many truths have been lost from the Bible, either by malicious people who changed meaning, by mistranslation, or by mistakes in copying. However, many of these truths have been restored in other scripture, particularly through the Book of Mormon. Mormon doctrine teaches that God continues to speak to His children today, and Mormons have four total books of scripture which have been canonized: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
The Book of Mormon is a record of the history of some of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. It tells the history of three different groups which were led to the Americas (or the Promised Land) by the hand of God. The first group, the Jaredites, was led from the European/Asian continent at the time of the Tower of Babel. The second group, the Lehites, was led out of Jerusalem in about 600 B.C. The final group was led out of Jerusalem in the days of Zedekiah, and they joined a remnant of the Lehites. The Book of Mormon is another testament that Jesus is the Christ, that He visits His people, and that He loves all His children. The Book of Mormon was translated in the late 1820s by Joseph Smith, by the power of God, from ancient records kept on plates of brass, and it contains the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Mormons use the same Bible that many other denominations use: the King James Version. While the Mormon Church has not canonized the books of the Apocrypha, it was revealed to Joseph Smith that there were many truths in those books which could be discerned when read by the power of the Holy Ghost.
The Doctrine and Covenants
The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of modern revelations given in large part to Joseph Smith, but also to other early Mormon Church leaders. These revelations helped to clarify doctrine and also set forth new doctrine pertinent to the time it was given. There are many valuable teachings contained in this book.
The Pearl of Great Price
The Pearl of Great Price is a collection of books. Some were revealed to Joseph Smith when he re-read the Bible by the power of the Holy Ghost and was given revelation where some truths had been lost over time. The Book of Abraham was translated by Joseph Smith from an ancient papyrus which came into the hands of the Mormon Church in the mid-1800s. It was a copy of an original record written by Abraham himself, or rewritten by scribes through the ages, and came from the catacombs of Egypt.
In addition to these books of scripture, Mormons believe that God continues to speak to His prophet on the earth today, and whatever is spoken by the prophet, in his capacity as prophet, is also considered as scripture. Some churches believe that God stopped speaking to His children at the close of the New Testament. Mormon doctrine teaches that God still loves us just as much today and continues to speak to His children through modern-day prophets. Joseph Smith was the first prophet of this dispensation, but there have been fifteen prophets since Joseph Smith. The current prophet is always the current president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the Mormon Church), who is now Thomas S. Monson.
Twice a year, in April and again in October, the Mormon Church holds a general conference for all members worldwide. Each conference takes place on a Saturday and a Sunday, during five sessions. During this conference, many Church leaders speak to members on a variety of subjects, giving them more revelation, guidance, and encouragement. The words spoken in each of these conferences become scripture as well, and are published the following month in special issues of the Mormon magazines the Ensign and the Liahona. Mormons know that God loves each of them and that He continues to speak directly to them and also through His leaders.
In May, 1984, the wards of Boston Stake were reorganized, and the Mormon Arlington Ward was formed, with Bob Chandler as the new bishop. Tony Kimball went through the 1963 Cambridge Ward Directory, and found several families who were still living locally in 2007, including the Chandlers. The old Cambridge Ward included Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville, Arlington, Belmont, Watertown, Newton, Waltham, Medford, Chelsea, and Everett. That’s 13 towns and cities. There have been at least three dozen church units organized in that same area since 1967.
The Boston Stake was split and the Hingham Stake was formed. The old Boston Stake then covered about the same area as the original Cambridge Branch (a group of members too small to be a ward). Though many members of the Latter-Day Saint wards and stakes in the Boston area come from a variety of vocations and backgrounds, the fact that many are students or professors of Harvard and Cambridge adds color and verve to this collection of Latter-day Saints.
It’s true that some of us are not tolerant in our dealings with our neighbors or others in our communities, and not everyone who attends church always manifests it, but in terms of the overall tone of the area, this quality is very unusual when compared to many of the places where the church has been entrenched for a long time. I am sure no Salt Lake ward ever would have had a karate demonstration as part of a Sacrament Meeting talk, as happened in this ward years ago, nor would I, as a single man, ever have been called as a Bishop. I’m not advocating either of these things, mind you, but I’ve seen in all of our stake presidents the same tolerant spirit manifested time and time again.
Boston Mormons have been all over the doctrinal and behavioral map, and around the country were known for their unorthodox perspectives. Several programmatic innovations were developed in this stake under creative stake presidents like William Fresh, L. Tom Perry, and Richard Bushman, which were initially[questioned] by the church, and, then, within a couple of years, put out as church-wide programs. The members here were generating programs to meet local needs which became church-wide.
East Cambridge was the earliest focal point of congregations of Mormons. Wilford Woodruff wrote a good bit in his journal about his visits to the Boston/Cambridge area in the 1830s.
In 1843, eight of the Quorum of the Twelve were in attendance at a conference in Boston. Nearly all of them were still in this area when they heard of the murder of Joseph Smith, and, of course, rushed back to Nauvoo. (Deseret News 1999-2000 Church Almanac, 210.)
In the early 1840s Brigham Young sent one of his daughters to school in the Salem area and she stayed with Nathaniel Felt, a great-great grandfather of Tony Kimball. Virtually all of the original members of the Mormon Church came out of New England. Since then, many interesting Latter-day Saints have lived in the area.
Evan Stephens, who is the composer of many of the hymns Mormons sing, attended the New England Conservatory in the late 19th century. Edna Wells Sloan took in boarders, including Truman Madsen’s mother, Emily. Edna decided to earn income by joining a bake sale. Her homemade potato chips were such a hit, she went into the potato chip business.
Click here to read more recollections from Claudia Bushman’s, “Remembering Cambridge.”