The headquarters of the Church is in Salt Lake City, Utah, but thousands of Church congregations throughout the world are run by local area offices (see "Organization").
The Church places great emphasis on family and individual development. It emphasizes education and operates schools, colleges, seminaries and institutes of religion. It maintains a vital welfare system, a unique missionary program, and worldwide organizations for men, women, youth, and children.
Christ lived, died, and was literally resurrected. Old Testament prophets foresaw, and the New Testament affirms, his divine mission.
Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel. As an ancient American prophet declared:
"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God...
"And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophesies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins...
"And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul" (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:23, 26, 29).
Other General Authorities include the members of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy and a three man Presiding Bishopric that oversees temporal affairs of the Church.
The major geographic subdivisions of the Church are called areas. The Church is further organized into regions and missions , within areas, stakes within regions, and districts within missions. Congregations are wards and branches within stakes, and branches within districts.
An ecclesiastical leader who is a member of one of the Quorums of the Seventy presides over each area, assisted by two counselors, also selected from one of those quorums.
Regional Representatives help the General Authorities of the Church to train stake officials. A president and two counselors preside over each stake and district, and a bishop and two counselors preside over each ward. Each branch is led by a president and two counselors
A president, assisted by two counselors and by his wife, directs each mission.
Each member of the Church has the right to vote on officers and administrative proposals that are presented by local or general presiding authorities.
Women are not ordained to the priesthood in the Church, but they are organized after the priesthood patterns in the women's organizations and serve in the Churches governing councils. Women serve as missionaries, preach sermons from the pulpit in worship services, lead congregational prayers in worship services and other meetings, hold administrative and teaching positions at all levels, and serve in a variety of other ways.
The priesthood has two major subdivision, called the Melchizedek, or higher, Priesthood and the Aaronic Priesthood are deacons, teachers, and priests. The quorums of the Melchizedek Priesthood are made up of elders and high priests. Each priesthood quorum has specific responsibilities to serve the members of the Church.
Because of concern for the strength and stability of the home, the Church is outspoken in its opposition to negative influences on the family.
The Church promotes gospel study and family activities in homes, and most programs of the Church are family oriented. For many years, the Church has encouraged each family to hold weekly family home evenings to study principles of good living and to counsel together about family matters. Families also participate together in recreational and cultural activities that strengthen ties and provide opportunities for healthy communications. The Church provides manuals to help parents plan interesting and meaningful family home evenings.
The Church also helps families through its "home teaching" and "visiting teaching" (see "Relief Society") programs. As representatives of the bishop or branch president, priesthood holders called "home teachers" go in pairs into each Latter-day Saint home at least once a month. They bring messages of inspiration, guidance, and good will to the family. They also act as representatives of ecclesiastical leaders whenever the Church's programs can be used to help families solve problems.
[My comment: monthly home teaching visits are the expectation, but circumstances and lack of commitment lead some home teachers to perform well below the mark. Priesthood leaders work to allocate home teaching resources to ensure that needs of members of each unit are being met, but there is room for plenty of improvement among home teachers. Service as a home teacher is purely voluntary; likewise, no one has to accept home teaching visits, though essentially all active members of the Church desire them. It's a privilege to always have someone to turn to for help and counsel.]
The society also has "visiting teachers." [The Church strives to see that] each woman in the Church is visited at least once every three months by two of these visiting teachers, who are assigned to assist with temporal and spiritual needs.
Copies of the records are stored in a spacious vault carved out of a solid granite mountain in a canyon near Salt Lake City. This massive cavern permanently safeguards these valuable records from natural disaster and preserves them under ideal storage conditions.
To appreciate the Church's emphasis on genealogy, it is necessary to understand the importance of the family in the lives of Latter-day Saints. Mormons who obey the teachings of Christ may enter into a marriage covenant that lasts not only until death, but continues eternally. These eternal marriages are solemnized in the temples of the Church.
In addition, the Church teaches that those who have died without a true knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ may be baptized in a temple (see "Temples") by proxy. Proxy temple work, including baptism and marriage, opens the way for people who have died without a full knowledge of the gospel to accept the gospel's saving principles and to participate in its necessary ordinances. The living gather vital statistics on their ancestors so that the dead can have all the blessings of the gospel. [My comment: see 1 Cor. 15:29, 1 Peter 3:18, 19, and 1 Peter 4:6.]
Jeff's Introduction to the Church
Jeff's Introduction to the Book of Mormon
Summary of my key LDS pages