Excerpts from the Press Book, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The following excerpts were taken from the LDS Press Book. Several sections are missing. Any errors in typing the following text is my responsibility. I have also added a few words of comment for clarification, placed within brackets.

The official name is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but it is often called the "Mormon" church, and its members referred to as "Mormons" or "Latter-day Saints." The Church was organized on April 6, 1830, in New York State.

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.

Mormons Are Christians

The central doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Eternal Father. This Jesus of Nazareth, whose birth was proclaimed by an angel of the Lord and by a multitude of the heavenly host (see Luke 2:8-14), is the Savior of the world, the Messiah and Redeemer of all mankind, and the only mediator between God and man.

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).

Organization

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has no professional clergy. Lay members chosen as regional and local officers are not paid for their services. The General Authorities of the Church have their headquarters in Salt lake City. They are led by the President of the Church, whom members consider to be a prophet of God. The First Presidency comprises the President and his two counselors. Next to the first presidency in authority is the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

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.

Priesthood

Priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God. A worthy male member 12 years of age or older is eligible to hold an office of responsibility in the priesthood.

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.

The Family

The basic unit of the Church is the family. The Church teaches that marriage is sacred and that temple covenants can bind a family together throughout eternity (see "Temples").

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.]

Relief Society

The Relief Society is one of the oldest and largest women's organizations in the world. It was established in 1842 to help the sick, the poor, and others in need of compassionate service. During its weekly meetings in each congregation, the organization also provides instruction on a variety of topics, including theology, home and family education, compassionate service, social relations, and home management.

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.

Family History

The Church has one of the largest genealogical libraries in the world. Under the direction of its Family History Department, the Church and its members have gathered millions of volumes of birth, marriage, death, and other records. Today hundreds of millions of microfilmed records are available for research. The library is open to the public and is situated adjacent to historic Temple Square in downtown Salt lake City, Utah. In addition, there are hundreds of family history centers throughout the world.

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.]

Temples

Wards and branches of the Church use chapels or other buildings for worship services on Sunday and for other meetings during the week. But the temples of the Church are reserved for such sacred ordinances as marriage and baptism (see "Family History"), and only faithful members of the Church may enter these holy buildings, which are situated in many parts of the world.

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