I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Say whaaa . . . .???" you think. Yep. It's a mouthful, but an important one. Let's break it down a little . . . my favorite way to conquer new and complex information. It makes it manageable, and memorable.
of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints
From the top:
Mostly simply, this denotes a body of believers; in this case, the "The" makes it a specific church, as defined by the words that follow.
of Jesus Christ
We believe in, follow the teachings of, and worship Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ prophesied of old, the Redeemer of all mankind, Son of the living Father, exemplar, teacher, brother, Savior; wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. He is the First and the Last, and in His name we are called.
of Latter-day Saints
This is usually where the "Say whaaa . . . ?" kicks in. It's simply to differentiate our church, today, from the organized followers of Christ when He walked the earth. Organized after the same manner as the church Christ himself organized when he first ministered to men in the flesh, we have a living prophet, who holds authority directly from God, and has stewardship over the whole earth to teach, exhort, love, and serve. He is assisted by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the quorums of the Seventy, and numerous others. You can read more in-depth here.
So, what does it mean to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Living prophets, who hold the actual Priesthood of Aaron and Melchizedek as well as Priesthood keys (or permissions/authorities) specific to their callings as prophets, seers, and revelators. A lay (volunteer) ministry, who are not paid for their time, and who do not request positions, but respond to calls, or invitations, to serve in various capacities during their lifetime in the church. A patriarchal order, largely administrated by men who hold the same Priesthoods. Ordinances, such as baptism, marriage that binds for eternity--not only until death separates, and the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Missionaries (I'm sure you've seen them, even if you didn't know who they were). Temples. Tithing. Fasting.
More to come on all of those, a little at a time.
Why haven't you said much about it before?
Our church has a long history of brutal persecution . . . which I won't go into here. You can read all about it in Church History. Modern prejudice, still robust and blind, lives on--and it can be really hard to open your mouth about things you hold sacred when you know there's a decent chance of being slapped down. Hard.
I've been thinking about that.
Early Christians did not deny their faith as they walked to the lions. Early Latter-day Saints walked hundreds of miles, lost many close family members, gave up fortunes, left their motherland, endured incredible hardship, all in the name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A slap-down shouldn't scare me that much. Right?
I'm still human. I still crave love and want others to respect that I value something different than they do, even if they cannot respect what I hold dear.
But it doesn't matter. Slap down or no, I'm going to do my best to set my fear aside. Courage is the mastery of fear--not the absence of it. And so, I'm going to try to start blogging more about my beliefs. Sharing my thoughts, and doing my best to help dispel the cloud of misconception and blind prejudice that still surrounds the word "Mormon". I've been challenged to do just that, and so do just that I will.
Please, if you have questions about my church, feel free to ask them. Of course, it's important to me to keep things respectful . . . learning and conflict don't coexist . . . one always suffers as the other flourishes. I want so much to help others understand, so if and when they run into prejudice or misconception, they can simply say: "They're not like that. I know."