Glossary of Mormonism




Aaronic Priesthood
The lesser priesthood which includes the offices of deacon, teacher, priest and bishop; conferred on faithful male members beginning at age 12. Responsibilities of Aaronic priesthood include preparing and offering the sacrament (communion) to Church members during Sunday worship services, visiting and teaching members in their homes, collecting contributions for the poor, and baptizing.
Apostle
Highest office of the Melchizedek Priesthood. One ordained to this office is called to be a special witness of the name of Jesus Christ in all the world, serving in this capacity for life.
area
The largest geographical ecclesiastical subdivision of the Church, consisting of several regions and presided over by a president, who is usually a General Authority.
authority
Duly conferred priesthood power; responsibility associated with position or function.
beehive symbol
A logo representing industry and harmony, appearing frequently on objects associated with the Church and the State of Utah.
bishop
Clergyman of a local congregation (called a ward) whose duties are similar to that of a pastor, priest or rabbi. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the position is unpaid.
Book of Mormon
An account of ancient inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere, recorded on gold plates and translated by Joseph Smith. The record contains both a history of the people and the fullness of the gospel as revealed by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants.
branch
A smaller congregation in an area where the Church is in a developing stage.




brethren
All male members of the Church; "the Brethren," a designation of the General Authorities of the Church.
callings
Invitations to accept an office or assignment in the Church; offices or assignments themselves.
chapel
The room or hall in a Church meetinghouse used for worship services. Church members gather for Sunday services in chapels, not temples.
Community of Christ
Previously known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a Latter Day Saint denomination organized by Joseph Smith III in 1860. Based in Independence, Missouri, the Community of Christ is the second largest Latter Day Saint denomination.
confirmation
Religious rite which takes place after baptism, bestowing official membership in the Church and conferring the gift of the Holy Ghost upon the new member.
convert
(noun) A person who has chosen to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by being baptized and confirmed.
covenant
A sacred agreement between God and man. As men and women obey the terms of the agreement, God promises blessings.
Doctrine and Covenants
A Mormon sacred text containing selected revelations given to Joseph Smith and his successors in the presidency of the Church.
elder
An office in the Melchizedek Priesthood; a title designating a holder of this priesthood, a General Authority or a male missionary.
family history center
A local branch of the world famous Family History Library in Salt Lake City. There are 3700 family history centers in 88 countries around the world, offering free genealogical research assistance to anyone.
family home evening
A program in which family members gather (usually on Monday evening) for family-centered spiritual instruction and social activities.
FamilySearch™
An automated computer system designed to assist Church members and others with family history research. Many features of the system can be accessed at www.familysearch.org.
Fast Sunday
A Sunday, usually the first one of each month, on which Church members abstain from food or drink for two meals and donate the equivalent cost to the Church to assist the poor and needy. The sacrament meeting on each fast Sunday, called fast and testimony meeting, is devoted to the voluntary expression of testimony by members.
firesides
Informal gatherings of Church members and friends, usually in homes or chapels, which feature a speaker or program on a religious theme. Occasionally, Churchwide firesides are held under the direction of the First Presidency.
First Presidency
The President of the Church and his counselors; the highest ranking quorum in the Church.
garments
White undergarments worn by members of the Church who have received a temple ordinance known as the endowment. The garment reminds the wearer of covenants made in the temple.
General Authority
Church leaders who serve in a general or Church-wide capacity, including members of the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Quorums of the Seventy, and Presiding Bishopric.
general conference
General assemblies of Church members in Salt Lake City, regularly convened every April and October and transmitted worldwide by radio, television and the Internet.
gold plates
The anciently engraved metal plates from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon.
investigator
A person who is interested in the Church and is receiving missionary instruction.
latter days
The last period of time upon the earth before the Lord's second coming, when the gospel is restored and God's true church reestablished. Also sometimes referred to in scripture as the "last days" (see Isaiah 2:2).
Latter-day Saints
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Manifesto of 1890
The pronouncement that the Church had officially ended the practice of entering into polygamy.
Melchizedek Priesthood
The higher of the two priesthoods; includes offices of elder, high priest, patriarch, seventy and apostle; conferred upon faithful males age 18 and older. Members of this priesthood serve in Church administrative assignments, hold the power of the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, may anoint and heal the sick, etc.
mission
Period of volunteer service, ranging from six to 24 months, when Church members devote themselves full time to proselytizing, humanitarian service, or strengthening members in the gospel. Also, a geographical area where missionary work is organized.
missionary companion
A missionary's partner. Missionaries in the Church work in pairs.
missionary discussion
A structured lesson on basic gospel principles presented by missionaries to someone interested in learning about the Church.
missionary training center
(MTC) Any of a number of worldwide facilities where formally called missionaries are instructed and trained before departure to assigned missions.
Mormon
A fourth-century prophet in the Americas who abridged the historical and religious records of his people on gold plates. His record was translated by Joseph Smith and first published in the United States during the early 1800s as the Book of Mormon.
Mormon Tabernacle Choir
The large choir that broadcasts weekly from Temple Square in Salt Lake City.
Mormons
Unofficial term for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; members prefer to be referred to as Latter-day Saints.
Moroni
An ancient American prophet who around A.D. 420 buried a record of his people written on gold plates. In 1827, the resurrected Moroni delivered these plates to Joseph Smith, who translated them into the Book of Mormon. A statue of Moroni is placed on top of many Church temples.
mutual
A weekly youth activities evening, held on a ward (congregation) basis for teenage Church member and their friends.
ordinance
A prescribed ceremony related to the reception of a blessing, covenant or ordination - for example, baptism, confirmation, and marriage are all ordinances. An ordinance must be performed by one who has been ordained to the priesthood and authorized to perform the ordinance.
Pearl of Great Price
Book of scripture translated and written by the Prophet Joseph Smith, including additional records of Abraham and Moses.
priesthood
The power of God; the authority given to men to act in God's name; the men of the Church in general.
priesthood quorum
An organized body of male members who hold the same priesthood office.
primary
Religious education and activities organization for children ages 3 through 11.
prophet
The President of the Church; any authorized spokesman of God; "the Prophet," usually a reference to Joseph Smith.
quorum
A group of men who hold the same priesthood office (such as a deacons quorum, an elders quorum, or the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles).
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
The 12 men who, under the direction of the First Presidency, constitute the second-highest presiding quorum of the Church. They testify of Jesus Christ and build up the Church throughout the world.
Quorums of the Seventy
Bodies of up to 70 men who, under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, direct missionary and other activities of the Church throughout the world. There are currently five Quorums of the Seventy.
region
Administrative geographical unit consisting of several stakes.
Relief Society
The adult women's organization in the Church.
restoration
The re-establishment of the ancient gospel of Jesus Christ through Joseph Smith in the latter days.
restorationism
The doctrine that the true Christian church died out in the early 2nd century CE until it was restored by Joseph Smith with the establishment of the LDS Church.
returned missionary
One who has completed a full-time mission for the Church.
sacrament
The ordinance of administering bread and water, representing the body and blood of Jesus Christ, to Church members, usually done in Sunday worship meetings.
sacrament meeting
Worship service, usually held in Latter-day Saint meetinghouses on Sundays, in which the sacrament (communion) is offered to members of the Church.
Saints
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Smith, Joseph
First president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (born 1805; died 1844). Regarded as a prophet of God by members of the Church.
stake
A geographical ecclesiastical subdivision of the Church, composed of several wards and sometimes branches. Similar to a diocese in the Roman Catholic Church.
stake president
The presiding leader of a stake.
tabernacle
A building used for assemblies; "the Tabernacle," usually a reference to the Salt Lake Tabernacle, located on Temple Square.
temple
A sacred building, the "house of the Lord," in which Latter-day Saints perform sacred ordinances of the gospel such as marriages and vicarious baptisms.
Temple Square
A 10-acre city block in Salt Lake City on which the Salt Lake Temple, Salt Lake Tabernacle and other buildings are located.
testimony
A set of personal beliefs about the doctrines of the Church; an expression of such beliefs.
tithing
The donation of one-tenth of one's income to the Church.
visitors' centers
Reception centers of the Church, near temples and historic sites, to introduce visitors to the history and doctrine of the Church.
ward
The basic geographic ecclesiastical unit in the Church, consisting of several hundred members presided over by a bishop.
Word of Wisdom
A code of health, revealed by God in 1833, which mandates abstention from alcohol, tobacco, tea, and coffee, and which encourages the use of fruits, vegetables, and grains.
Zion
Righteous followers of Jesus Christ; a geographic location where the righteous are gathered by obedience to the gospel.

Sources

  1. "Glossary of Church Terms," LDS Newsroom, accessed October 2005.
  2. "Latter Day Saint movement," Wikipedia, accessed October 2005.
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