Since it’s November, maybe I should start this by saying thank you. Thank you for taking time to read and thank you for caring about our religious community in the Hampton Roads / Peninsula area.
Today I want to touch briefly on names - as you become acquainted with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you may notice a number of different ways we’ve been referred to historically - Mormons is the most common nickname. We’ve also been called LDS, Latter-day Saints, and others. Some of these are names we’ve used adopted ourselves in the past.
In an important address to the Church, Church President and Prophet Russell M. Nelson asked church members to correct the way in which they refer to the church and to use the full name - the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Why you ask? Why, in the internet age and in the day of “LOL” and emojis would we be requested to use such a lengthy identifier?
To understand this, it’s important to understand the value of a name, the value of identity.
When church members are baptized, we promise to take upon us the name of Christ. The reason behind this is most easily explained by the symbolism of marriage. When a man and a woman are married, it is tradition for a woman to change her name to her husband’s last name. This is done to demonstrate unity - they are no longer separate families, separate lives living together. They are one family, with one purpose. They are promising to endure together, to suffer together, to enjoy life together.
The same purpose drives the covenant of baptism for members of the church. We are moving forward in unity with the Savior by taking His name upon us. We are promising to labor in his work and serve the children of God as he did in his ministry. In turn he will uplift and sustain us when we are burdened or suffering.
This process is very real to church members. The name of Christ is therefore sacred and carries great symbolism.
Thus we can see the issue in abbreviations or nicknames of the Church - Mormons, LDS, church of Latter-day Saints - all remove the name of the Savior. He is the central part of each of our lives. Moreover, we believe that, like in the days of the mortal ministry of the Savior, Christ himself established and leads the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through living prophets and apostles. To remove His name from His church is altogether inappropriate.
So, in an effort to honor Him, we will use the full name of the church and ask that others do the same. Yes, it takes longer to say and sure sounds like a mouthful when it pops out in normal conversation. But in context, it’s a small request to fulfill a much larger purpose.
Perhaps the best thing I can do is to end where I started and say thank you - thank you for your patience as we take up a few more seconds of your time to describe our church. Thank you for being kind enough to be conscientious of this important distinction.