Maybe you’ve heard the news.
If not, here it is: For almost 200 years, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been called Mormons.
This year though, that church is asking its members to do one thing with that nickname — stop using it.
When the church was organized by Joseph Smith in 1830, it was simply called the Church of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t until many years later that “of Latter-day Saints” was added.
At that time, the nickname “Mormon” was used by enemies of the church as an insult.
It may have been used to demean and remind members they weren’t accepted as Christians, but more importantly, it removed Jesus Christ’s name from the church.
Throughout history, this nickname has created confusion about what the church believes and who its members follow.
The term “Mormon” comes from the name of the primary author of The Book of Mormon. The man, Mormon, was a prophet who lived around 400 CE. He was a a member of the Nephites, one of a quartet of groups described in the Book of Mormon as having settled in the ancient Americas.
During much of his life, Mormon compiled and commented on 1,000 years of his nation’s history.
As almost the last of his people who believed in Jesus Christ, he had taken on this immense project in a final effort to tell his nation and its descendants that Christ lived.
Many of their ancestors had been firm in their faith of Christ and were anxious to have their testimonies of Jesus shared with their descendants.
So, with inspiring faith, Mormon endured incredible trials to make sure that could happen, including working in hiding after his country fell to an enemy that wasn’t planning to take prisoners. The history he compiled and the wisdom and prophecies he and his son shared became what the world knows today as The Book of Mormon.
Since the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1830, most of its presidents and many of its apostles have expressed concerns about Mormon’s name being used as single word descriptor.
They often requested that it be avoided whenever possible. Despite these requests, and because of how much easier it is to say, the nickname continued to be used within the church.
There have even been times when the church embraced the nickname in an effort to generate conversations about it and answer the questions people have.
Finally, however, the confusion inherent to that situation is coming to an end.
In October 2018, the current president of the church, Russell M. Nelson, reminded its members in a great sermon that “the name of the church is not negotiable” and that “when we omit His name from His church, we are inadvertently removing Him as the central focus of our lives.”
Since then, Nelson has begun the process of removing the nickname and once again bringing to the forefront the true name of the church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Many of the efforts to restore Jesus Christ’s name — and remove the nickname — are already visible. The church’s websites are getting new names, its news branch is being renamed and even the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir has a new monicker: The Tabernacle Choir.
The church wants to remove any potential confusion about whether its members follow Mormon or Jesus Christ.
This time, the change is permanent.
If you have a friend who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and you’ve noticed they are suddenly awkward about being called a Mormon, this is why.
They care deeply about Jesus Christ and don’t want to be known by a nickname. They are followers of Christ.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invites all people everywhere to likewise make Jesus Christ central to their lives.
They believe Christians everywhere should avoid nicknaming their faith-fuelled activities in order to avoid mentioning Christ.
He is the Saviour.
He is worth talking about.
Andrew Lamb is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Kamloops. He can be reached by email at andy_lamb30@-
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