What's in a name?
by Kathy Penrod
My parents named me Kathleen. My nickname as long as I can remember has been Kathy. However, growing up, I was often called Catherine and it drove me crazy that people didn’t use my real name. Then in high school a friend started calling me Catherine just to bug me. But over time, it actually became a term of endearment, a name I answered to and something that made me smile.
It is a name I wish to discuss today. The name of my church. Officially, we are referred to as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, we have other nicknames as well. We are referred to as LDS and Latter-day Saints. Most commonly, even among members of the church, we are referred to as Mormons.
It’s easy to see where the LDS and Latter-day Saint nicknames came from. But why Mormon? It doesn’t even sound similar.
Well, it all started with an ancient prophet who lived on the American Continent between (approx.) 311-385 AD. He was responsible for compiling hundreds of years of records kept by other prophets on the American continent into one manageable volume of scripture. Because this prophet’s name was Mormon, and because he did so much to organize these records, the book bears his name. The Book of Mormon.
Because we believe The Book of Mormon to be the actual word of God, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were quickly given the nickname, “Mormon” in 1830. Try as we may, the nickname “Mormon” is just so engrained into our culture (and so much easier to say) that we have given up trying to avoid being called by that nickname. And now, it can be a term of endearment. A name we readily and proudly respond to.
As far as the explanation of our formal name, it is pretty simple. We believe this is the literal church of Jesus Christ, restored from its same organization as described in the New Testament. We want people to know He is our Rock and Foundation and so it is His name we bear in the name of our church. Additionally, ancient Christians often referred to themselves as saints and because they lived so long ago, we refer to them as “former-day” saints. Today, in our contemporary time, we live in a later day – so we refer to ourselves as “latter-day saints.”
So there it is, our name. Nothing mysterious. Now, when you hear Mormon, LDS, Latter-day Saint or member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you will know it is all referring to the same religion.