What are the most common terms in Mormon vocabulary?
Aaronic Priesthood—one of the two priesthoods within the Church. The Aaronic Priesthood is given to worthy young men ages twelve and older and also to worthy convert adult males shortly after baptism. Also called the lesser, Levitical, or preparatory priesthood. See also Melchizedek Priesthood.
active—Church members who attend their meetings, fulfill their assignments, and otherwise live the gospel to the best of their ability. See also inactive, less active.
activities committee—the committee responsible for organizing most of the cultural and athletic activities in a ward. The committee usually consists of a chairman, a cultural arts director, a physical activities director, and other specialists.
activity day—a quarterly Primary activity during which children meet together for some type of educational or social activity. This is usually held on a weekday or a Saturday.
administer—to perform an ordinance. The two most common usages refer to administering the sacrament and administering to those who are ill.
administering the sacrament—the blessing and passing of the sacrament. This is done as part of every sacrament meeting, conducted primarily by members of the Aaronic Priesthood. For details, see Question 27.
administering to the sick—the ordinance of blessing an individual who is ill. This is usually done by two Melchizedek Priesthood holders using olive oil that has been consecrated for the blessing of the sick (see 199 James 5:14). one man usually anoints the head of the person with oil, and then the second man usually joins in to seal the anointing. If two men are not available, one priesthood holder can perform both functions.
age of accountability—the age when individuals in general are considered to be old enough to know right from wrong. In the Church, this age is eight as revealed by the Lord (D&C 68:25–27).
agency—the concept that individuals should be free to make decisions that affect their own lives, even if those decisions are wrong. This is often referred to as free agency, but the free is misleading because, although we are free to make our own choices, we are not free from the consequences of them.
anti-Mormon literature—books, pamphlets, or videos prepared to discourage those with an interest in the Church. Some specimens are ludicrous, but others are skillfully prepared to subtly distort Church doctrine.
apostasy—a “falling away” from the truth, such as occurred following the death of Christ and his apostles, known as the Great Apostasy, which led to the Dark Ages.
apostle—an office in the Melchizedek Priesthood, held by those fifteen General Authorities who belong to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency; these men are special witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ.
auxiliary—one of the non-priesthood organizations with the Church, such as Primary, relief Society, Sunday School, young Men, and young Women.
baptism—the ordinance that marks your admission into the Church. Previous baptisms in other faiths are not recognized because you must be baptized by one having proper priesthood authority. Within the Church, baptisms may be performed by men holding the Melchizedek Priesthood or the office of priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. Baptisms are performed by immersion.
bearing testimony—the act of publicly declaring your spiritual beliefs. Members usually bear their testimonies during the monthly fast and testimony meeting, but testimonies may be borne at other times. Missionaries often bear testimony to investigators of the principles and doctrines they have taught them.
Beehive—the youngest class of girls in the young Women program. Girls who are Beehives are 12–13 years of age.
Bible—one of four volumes of scripture recognized by the Church. In general, the King James Version of the Bible is used by most Church members. See also standard works.
bishop—an office in the Aaronic Priesthood given to those who are called to preside over a ward. The bishop presides over the Aaronic Priesthood but is also the presiding high priest in the ward and the common judge over ward members. A bishop is roughly equivalent to a pastor, minister, or priest in other denominations.
bishops’ storehouse—a facility containing an assortment of food, clothing, and other supplies. The storehouses are run as part of the welfare program of the Church. With the bishop’s written approval, needy ward members may visit the storehouse to obtain supplies.
bishopric—the three men that form the governing body of the ward, which consists of a bishop and his two counselors, assisted by the ward clerk and executive secretary.
blessing of babies—an ordinance performed by the father of a new baby or by another Melchizedek Priesthood holder. The one giving the blessing cradles the baby in his arms, accompanied by other invited Melchizedek Priesthood holders. He declares the baby’s name and pronounces a blessing upon the child. This is traditionally done during fast and testimony meeting.
Book of Mormon—one of four volumes of scripture recognized as official canon by members of the Church; translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith from golden plates handed down by ancient civilizations that lived on the American continent.
branch, branch president—a branch is similar to a ward but contains a smaller number of members (usually less than 100). Branches are formed when there are not enough members—especially Melchizedek Priesthood holders—to form and govern a ward in a particular geographical area. Branches are designed to be staffed by fewer people than a ward, and they are led by a branch president, rather than a bishop.
brother, brethren—terms used in the Church when referring to men. These are used to imply a close kinship, as we are literally brothers in the kingdom of God. Individual members may also be addressed or referred to as “Brother Jones” or “Brother Smith.” Some also use the term Brethren (note the capital B) to refer to the General Authorities of the Church, most often the Twelve Apostles.
calling—an opportunity to perform service within the Church, such as a Sunday School teacher, bishop, and so on. Individuals are invited or called to the position by a priesthood holder authorized to do so.
celestial kingdom—the most glorious of the three kingdoms of heaven, reserved for those who have been the most valiant in keeping the Lord’s commandments (see Question 41).
celestial marriage—see temple marriage.
celestial room—a room in LDS temples used to symbolize the glory and beauty of the celestial kingdom.
CES—see Church Education System
chapel—the room in an LDS meeting house where sacrament meeting and other worship services are held. Church members often use the word chapel mistakenly, when they really mean meeting house.
Church, the—an abbreviated way of referring to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Church Education System—a Church department responsible for administering the seminary and institute programs. Most often referred to as CES.
Church magazines—magazines published by the Church to inform and strengthen its members. In English these are the Ensign (for adults), New Era (for teens), and Friend (for children). The Liahona is printed in many languages and combines elements of all three magazines.
compassionate service leader—a member of the ward relief Society board assigned to coordinate acts of compassionate service toward ward members, such as preparing a meal for a sister who is ill, or baby-sitting her children.
confirmation—a Melchizedek Priesthood ordinance performed by the laying on of hands in which the newly baptized person is declared to be a member of the Church and receives the gift of the Holy Ghost.
consecrated oil—pure olive oil that has been blessed and is used only for the anointing of the sick, the anointing performed usually by two Melchizedek Priesthood holders.
convert—a person who joins the Church later in life; technically speaking, anyone baptized at nine years of age or older.
covenant—a promise made between a person and God. The person promises to follow certain commandments, and God promises to bless and reward the person in certain ways. Members of the Church enter into covenants as a part of baptism, partaking of the sacrament, receiving the priesthood, marrying in the temple, and so on.
cultural hall—a large room within an LDS meetinghouse used to conduct cultural or athletic events. often equipped with basketball hoops. old-timers still call it the “gym.”
deacon—the beginning office in the Aaronic Priesthood, usually bestowed upon young men ages 12–13. Duties of deacons include passing the sacrament and collecting fast offerings.
declaration of lineage—a portion of each patriarchal blessing in which you are told through which tribe of Israel your lineage is derived. See also patriarchal blessing.
dedication of graves—A Melchizedek Priesthood ordinance that involves pronouncing a blessing and dedication of a grave site before the casket is placed into the ground. This is performed after the funeral.
deseret—a Book of Mormon term that signifies “honeybee” (see Ether 2:3); used to signify industry. Deseret is a common name for Church-related businesses, such as Deseret Industries and the Deseret Morning News.
disciplinary council—a formal meeting held to consider the membership status of a member who has committed serious transgressions. Disciplinary councils may be held at both the stake and ward level. The focus of such a council is to help the member repent.
disfellowship—one outcome of a disciplinary council. Disfellowshipped members are still members of the Church, but they cannot participate in certain activities, such as giving talks or prayers or partaking of the sacrament or attending the temple. Disfellowshipment is a temporary status, lasting only as long as it takes for the member to fulfill his or her repentance plan.
distribution centers—Church-operated centers that contain the supplies necessary for running the Church, such as books and manuals, audio-visual materials, forms, sacrament trays and cups, certificates, and so on. Supplies are available at no cost or for a nominal charge and may be ordered by stakes, wards, branches, or individuals. A distribution center catalog is published yearly.
district—an organizational unit similar to a stake but smaller and usually composed of branches rather than wards. In locations where Church membership is small and scattered, you often find branches and districts rather than wards and stakes.
Doctrine and Covenants—one of four volumes of scripture recognized by the Church. The Doctrine and Covenants contains revelations received between the founding of the Church in 1830 and the present day. See also standard works.
elder—an office in the Melchizedek Priesthood, usually held by younger men in a ward. The term elder is also applied when referring to full-time male missionaries or General Authorities of the Church.
elders quorum—the group of men holding the office of elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood that meet together in a ward. The presidency consists of a president and his two counselors.
employment centers—facilities run by the Church to help members find or upgrade their employment.
endowment—an ordinance presented in temples that prepares those who live worthily to return to the presence of God. Endowments are performed for the living and for those who are deceased.
Ensign, the—see Church magazines.
exaltation—a higher reward for those who have been especially valiant in keeping the Lord’s commandments. Salvation is offered to all through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, but exaltation is a gift from God to those who have been willing to sacrifice and obey at all costs.
excommunicate—the most serious decision of a disciplinary council. An excommunicated member is no longer considered a member of the Church. He or she can attend meetings, but cannot participate by taking the sacrament, holding any Church positions, paying tithing, or attending the temple. If a male, he cannot exercise his priesthood. Excommunication continues until the person has fulfilled his or her repentance plan and has demonstrated appropriate, sustained change.
executive secretary—a calling in which a Melchizedek Priesthood holder performs administrative duties for other Church leaders. Both bishops and stake presidents have executive secretaries and utilize them to schedule appointments, prepare agendas, and perform other duties.
family council—an as needed meeting that allows family members to discuss family problems and successes, give assignments, make decisions, or plan family events such as vacations.
family history—the activities associated with creating and maintaining a history of your immediate family and other relatives. Although family history often refers to genealogy, it also includes related activities such as maintaining journals, photo albums, family DVDs, voice recordings, and so on.
family history center—facilities maintained by the Church to assist members in performing genealogical research. These centers and services are also open to non-members.
family home evening—a Church program designed to bring the family together one evening per week (typically Mondays) for spiritual instruction and recreational activities.
family night—see family home evening.
Family Search—an online computer program created by the Church that helps users research and keep track of family lineage and other genealogical information. This program also reduces unwanted duplication of records. Family Search is free and can be accessed from virtually any computer with Internet access.
fast and testimony meeting—the name of the sacrament meeting held on fast Sunday (typically the first Sunday of each month) in which members have the opportunity to stand and bear their testimonies.
fast Sunday—one Sunday every month (typically the first Sunday) when Church members voluntarily go without food for two consecutive meals and donate to the Church the cash equivalent of those meals. This money, called a fast offering, is used to benefit of the poor and needy.
fast offering—see fast Sunday.
fasting—the act of praying and abstaining from food and drink (usually for two consecutive meals) in order to gain spiritual strength and insight or to seek special help from God.
fireside—a special Church meeting, usually with a spiritual theme and involving a particular age group.
financial clerk—an assistant ward or stake clerk called to deal specifically with financial matters
First Presidency—the presiding quorum of the Church, which is 205
composed of the President (prophet) and his two fellow apostles who serve as his counselors.
food storage—see home storage.
garments—the underclothing worn by Church members who have received their temple endowment.
genealogy—see family history.
General Authorities—those Priesthood leaders called to preside over the entire body of the Church, rather than just a particular stake or ward. General Authorities include the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, the Quorums of the Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric.
general conference—a conference of all the members of the Church held twice yearly, in April and october. Sessions are held at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City and broadcast throughout the world via satellite, radio, television, and the Internet.
golden questions, the—a missionary outreach in which members inquire of non-members, “What do you know about the Mormon Church?” “Would you like to know more?”
gospel—the doctrines, practices, and organization established by Jesus Christ whereby mankind can find true happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.
high council—a group of twelve experienced high priests in the Melchizedek Priesthood who serve as representatives of the stake presidency and help administer the business of the stake. Each ward is assigned a stake high councilor who serves as liaison between the stake president and the bishop.
high priest—an office in the Melchizedek Priesthood granted to those who are called to Church leadership positions, such as bishops and their counselors, and stake presidents and their counselors.
high priests group—the group of high priest that meet together in a ward. They are not called a quorum, because all the high priests in the stake comprise one high priests quorum.
high priests group leader—a high priest in the Melchizedek Priesthood who is called to lead the ward’s high priests group.
home storage—food, clothing, fuel, water, and other necessities of 206
life that are accumulated by a family and used in rotation. The purpose of home storage is to sustain families during times of emergency.
home teaching—a Church program in which the priesthood holders of the ward are assigned, in pairs, to visit the families of the ward as representatives of the bishop. The visits are at least monthly and are designed to share a spiritual message and to ascertain the family’s needs so the needs can be relayed to the bishop.
inactive—a member whose Church attendance and participation has essentially ceased.
institute—a program sponsored by the Church Educational System (CES) designed to provide religious instruction to college-age students and other adults. Many U.S. colleges and universities have LDS Institute buildings near the campus.
investigators—individuals who are studying the Church but who are not yet baptized.
Joseph Smith—the founder and the first president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
keys—certain powers and authorities that are bestowed on a priesthood holder when he is called and set apart to preside over a group of Latter-day Saints, whether as an apostle, stake president, bishop, deacons quorum president, and so on. only four individuals in a ward hold keys: the bishop, the elders quorum president, and the presidents of the teachers and deacons quorums.
kingdom of God—though the kingdom of God includes both heaven and earth, the term “kingdom of God” typically refers to God’s Church on the earth, its doctrines, practices, and organization.
Latter-day Saints—a common expression used when referring to the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Laurel—a member of the young Women program who is 16–17 years of age.
law of common consent—the concept that members of the Church must approve all callings that are issued to members who will work with them or preside over them. Each member is given a regular opportunity to approve their leaders, whether on the ward, stake, or general Church level.
law of consecration—a law that requires the voluntary dedication of potentially all one’s time, talents, and possessions to the building up of the Church and kingdom of God. The payment of tithing is a first step toward living the law of consecration.
lay ministry—ecclesiastical leadership provided by those who receive no pay for their services. Except for a modest living allowance granted to those General Authorities whose personal assets are not sufficient to sustain them in their full-time Church labors, no Church leaders receive payment for their services.
LDS Church—a nickname for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
LDS Family Services—the Church’s network of paid professional social workers, counselors, and psychologists who provide therapy and adoption assistance to members of the Church who have been referred by their bishops.
less active—Church members who have no physical disabilities or other circumstances that would prohibit their attendance at Church, but who nevertheless choose not to attend, or less than quarterly.
lesser priesthood—see Aaronic Priesthood.
Levitical priesthood—see Aaronic priesthood.
Liahona—see Church magazines
line of authority—when a man is ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood, the person ordaining him often gives him a document tracing his line of priesthood authority back to Jesus Christ.
magnify—a term used in the scriptures (Jacob 1:19; D&C 24:9) and often used in Church discourses in which members are urged to exert maximum personal initiative and energy in fully carrying out their callings.
manifest—to raise your right hand to signify your support of a proposed action or an individual called to a Church position. “All who can sustain Sister Williams as a Sunday School instructor, please manifest it.” See also sustain.
meetinghouse—the building where wards hold Church services and other meetings; sometimes erroneously referred to as the chapel.
Melchizedek Priesthood—one of two priesthoods granted to worthy men within the Church. The Aaronic Priesthood is a preparatory priesthood, but the Melchizedek Priesthood contains all the authority necessary to lead the Church and to return all worthy members back to God’s presence.
membership clerk—an assistant ward or stake clerk called to specifically deal with membership records.
membership record—a permanent printed or electronic record that is created when a person is baptized and which is updated to reflect important events such as marriages, posterity, ordinations, and so on. If a person moves to a different ward or branch, regardless of the location, his or her membership record is transferred to that unit.
Mia Maid—a class in the young Women program for girls ages 14–15.
mission—a geographic region of the world where full-time missionaries are sent. The missionaries in each mission are presided over by a mission president and his two counselors. The term mission is also used to refer to the calling to be a missionary, as in, “I’m going on a mission next year.”
mission leader—see ward mission leader.
mission of the Church—the goal of all Church programs is to invite all to come to Christ and be perfected in him. This goal is accomplished through the four-fold mission of the Church: proclaim the gospel; perfect the Saints; and redeem the dead (through vicarious temple ordinances); and caring for the poor and needy.
mission rules—a standard set of rules governing the work and conduct of the Church’s full-time missionaries throughout the world.
missionary—someone called and ordained to preach and exemplify the gospel to others full-time. Generally speaking, all members of the Church are expected to be missionaries in terms of seeking to share the gospel message with their friends and associates.
missionary exchanges—pairing each full-time missionary with a ward member of the same sex, thereby enabling two full-time missionaries to conduct two teaching or fellowshipping visits at different locations at the same time,
missionary fund—a fund maintained by each ward and used, if needed, to support the full-time missionaries from the ward when family funds are insufficient.
Mormons, Mormonism, Mormon Church—following the publication of the Book of Mormon in 1830, these terms were used by the early opponents of the Church in order to avoid crediting Church members with being Christians. originally, Mormon was the name of the ancient American prophet who compiled the writings that constitute the Book of Mormon.
Mutual—short for Mutual Improvement Association, the predecessor of today’s young Women and young Men programs. “Mutual” is a holdover term usually referring to the week-night activity meeting for young Men and young Women.
new member lessons—a series of lessons presented to new converts t during the first two months following baptism. The lessons, taught jointly by the home teachers and full-time missionaries, are designed to reinforce the gospel principles already taught during the missionary discussions.
non-members—a term used by the members of the Church to refer to those who are not members.
nursery—a room in the LDS meetinghouse where children between the ages of 18 months and three years may play, learn, and fellowship while their parents attend Sunday School or other adult meetings.
oath and covenant of the priesthood—a promise made by men who receive the priesthood that they will honor the priesthood, magnify priesthood callings, and keep all of God’s commandments. God, in turn, covenants that as a man fulfills this covenant, God will eventually bless him with all he has.
opening exercises—short introductory meetings, usually opened with a hymn and a prayer, where an organization gathers before separating for individual classes.
ordain, ordination—the act of conferring (by the laying on of hands) the authority to hold a specific priesthood office. ordinations typically begin when a boy is ordained a deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood at age 12, then a teacher at age 14, and priest at 16. At 18 or 19 years of age, a young man typically receives the Melchizedek Priesthood and is ordained to the office of elder. If a man is called to serve in a bishopric, in a stake presidency, or on a high council, he is ordained a high priest, or he may be ordained a high priest by virtue of maturity and service.
ordinance—a ceremony or rite performed by the power of the priesthood that is recognized by God and his Church. Examples of ordinances include the blessing of babies, baptism, confirmation, ordination to the priesthood, anointing and blessing of the sick, administration of the sacrament, and the ordinances performed in the temple.
ordinance workers—those called to perform ordinances in the temples.
patriarch—an office in the Melchizedek priesthood, and also a stake calling within the Church. Patriarchs are called upon to give patriarchal blessings to members of the Church.
patriarchal blessing—a blessing given to a Church member by a stake patriarch. Patriarchal blessings (1) declare the lineage of the member (which of the twelve tribes he or she is a descendant of), (2) provides the member with counsel with which to guide his or her life, and (3) promises blessing based upon the member’s faithfulness in living worthy of the blessings.
Pearl of Great Price—one of four volumes of scripture recognized as official canon by the members of the Church. The Pearl of Great Price contains excerpts from the writings of Abraham and Moses, inspired translation of portions of the book of Matthew, as well as Joseph Smith’s history and the Articles of Faith.
PEC—see priesthood executive committee
personal ancestral file (PAF)—a computer program created by the Church that helps users keep track of family lineage and other genealogical information. PAF can be downloaded from the Internet for free. Disks containing the PAF program are also available at family history centers throughout the Church. PAF is being superseded and eventually replaced by a superior program, Family Search
personal journals—books used by members to record important events in their lives; a part of family history.
personal priesthood interview (PPI)—see priesthood interview. 211
Personal Progress program—a portion of the young Women program that allows young women to set personal goals and then monitor themselves, with help from parents and young Women leaders, as they strive to accomplish their goals.
personal revelation—the right of every Church member to receive individual guidance from God in regard to his own life and the lives over whom he or she has stewardship.
physical facilities representative—a member of the stake high council who is responsible for all the buildings within the stake. He is the liaison when buildings are being built or upgraded, when a building must be repaired, and when maintenance problems arise.
podium—properly called the pulpit; it is the speaker’s rostrum at the front of LDS chapels, usually with a microphone attached.
PPI—see priesthood interview.
preparatory priesthood—see Aaronic Priesthood
preside—to oversee or lead according to one’s authority or position in the Church.
President and prophet—a term often used to refer to the President of the Church, as it emphasizes his dual role as both a President of the Church and the prophet of God.
Presiding Bishopric—three General Authorities who are assigned the responsibility of maintaining the physical assets of the Church. This group is comprised of the Presiding Bishop and his two counselors, each referred to as bishop, instead of elder.
priest—one of the offices in the Aaronic Priesthood, granted to worthy young men ages 16 or 17, but also to adult male converts shortly after baptism. Priests have authority to baptize, administer the sacrament, and ordain other priests, teachers, and deacons.
priesthood—power and authority of God granted to worthy men in the Church to officiate in his name. Priesthood authority is used to lead the Church, perform ordinances, and bless the lives of others. See also Aaronic Priesthood, Melchizedek Priesthood.
priesthood blessing—a blessing for healing, comfort, or counsel given by a man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood. Such blessings may include a husband blessing his wife or his children, or a bishop or home teacher blessing a person within his stewardship.
priesthood executive committee (PEC)—on the ward level, a committee comprised of the bishopric, elders quorum president, high priests group leader, ward mission leader, young Men president, and others as invited. The PEC meets at least monthly to discuss the needs of those they serve.
priesthood holder—a generic term referring to any male who has been ordained to the Aaronic or Melchizedek Priesthood.
priesthood interview—an interview between a priesthood holder and the priesthood holder to whom he reports.
priesthood leader—a generic term describing anyone in a position of priesthood leadership over others.
priesthood leadership meeting—a quarterly stake meeting designed to teach leadership skills to those who have been given priesthood leadership callings.
priesthood meeting—typically, a forty-minute portion of the three hour Sunday block of meetings. Priesthood holders (both Melchizedek and Aaronic) meet together in opening exercises, and then separate into individual quorum and group meetings to discuss quorum business and participate in a gospel lesson.
priesthood quorum—see quorum.
priesthood session, general—one of the five sessions of general conference to which only priesthood holders are invited.
Primary—the auxiliary organization of the Church whose stewardship is to provide gospel instruction to children between ages 3 and 12. At 12 years of age, the boys and girls advance into the young Men and young Women programs.
probation—one outcome of a disciplinary council. Those on probation are still members of the Church, but are temporarily restricted from participating in certain activities, as determined by the council.
prophet—a preacher of righteousness acting as God’s messenger and making known his will to peoples and nations. The President of the Church is known as a prophet (and seer and revelator) because he is the one who receives revelations from the Lord applicable to the entire Church and the entire world. The members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are also sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators, though there is only one senior apostle, and that man is the prophet.
prospective elder—any male Church member, married or single, who has passed his nineteenth birthday but has not yet received the Melchizedek Priesthood and thus has not yet been ordained an elder.
quad—an abbreviation for quadruple combination—a printed volume that contains all four books of LDS scripture: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. See also standard works.
quorum—a group of brethren holding the same priesthood office and who meet together regularly.
quorum advisor—an adult male called to assist in the operations of the Aaronic Priesthood quorums. He is often a member of the young Men presidency.
quorum instructor—the man called to teach the weekly lesson in quorum meeting.
quorum leaders—a generic term referring to the leadership of the priesthood quorums. This would include all the presidencies of the Aaronic and Melchizedek quorums and the high priest group leader and his assistants.
quorum meetings—in the ward, the main portion of the weekly priesthood meeting where members meet together in their individual quorums to receive spiritual and practical instruction.
Quorum of the Twelve, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Council of the Twelve—twelve Melchizedek Priesthood holders ordained to the office of apostle who, in addition to serving as General Authorities, serve as special witnesses of Jesus Christ to all the world. The Quorum of the Twelve is equal in authority to the Quorum of the First Presidency.
Quorums of the Seventy—additional groups of General and Area Authorities who assist the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve in the operation of the Church throughout the world.
recommend desk—an area just inside the temple entrance where those desiring to enter the temple must show their temple recommends, which must be valid and current.
recommend for a patriarchal blessing—a form that must be completed by the bishop to enable the ward member to schedule an appointment with a stake patriarch to receive a patriarchal blessing.
release—the opposite of being called to a Church assignment. At the conclusion of one’s calling, he or she will be released. As with sustaining, this will usually be done in the appropriate Church meeting. Typically, this is immediately followed by the sustaining of the replacement.
released time seminary—in areas with large LDS populations, high schools will often legally release LDS students during the school day to attend seminary. This is known as released time.
Relief Society—the main auxiliary organization designed to help meet the needs of adult women in the Church, whether single or married.
Relief Society presidency—those women chosen to preside over the relief Society in the ward or stake. The presidency is composed of the president, her two counselors, and her secretary.
road show—a short dramatic production involving ward members who act, sing, and dance; often designed with minimal scenery so the production can be loaded onto a truck and hauled to other LDS meetinghouses.
sacrament—an ordinance performed as part of the sacrament meeting to remind the congregation of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the covenants each member made when they were baptized. Partaking of the sacrament worthily serves to renew these baptismal covenants. Members of the Aaronic Priesthood bless and distribute bread and water to the members of the congregation.
sacrament meeting—the most sacred Sunday worship service for members of the Church (and visitors), so named because its primary purpose is to allow the members to receive the sacrament.
Saints—members of The Church of Jesus Christ, whether in ancient times or today.
saving ordinance—a priesthood ordinance that is required for those who would return to the presence of God. Baptism and confirmation are examples of such ordinances, while the blessing of babies is not.
scriptures—sacred writings containing instructions from God to his children through his prophets. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recognize four different books of scripture. See also standard works.
seal the anointing—the second element of a blessing given to a sick person by one or two Melchizedek Priesthood holders. After one priesthood holder anoints the person with a drop or two of consecrated olive oil, places his hands on the person’s head, and pronounces the anointing prayer, both brethren then jointly lay their hands on the person’s head and one of the brethren pronounces a prayer in which he seals the anointing and then adds words of blessing.
sealer—a temple ordinance worker who has the authority to perform sealings.
sealing—an ordinance performed in the temple where a husband and wife, along with any children they may have, are joined together as a family for all eternity. This same ordinance may be performed by proxy for individuals who have died without having received such an ordinance.
sealing room—a room in the temple where sealing ordinances are performed.
seminary—a program of daily gospel instruction designed for youth of high school age. Classes may be taught early in the morning or during the school day. Students may meet in a seminary building, a meeting house, or a member’s home.
senior companion—the man considered to have the most experience in a priesthood companionship. For full-time missionaries, this is typically the missionary who has served the longest. When an Aaronic and a Melchizedek Priesthood holder home teach together, the Melchizedek Priesthood holder is the senior companion.
setting apart—a priesthood procedure involving the laying on of hands that grants a person the authority to perform a certain calling within the Church.
Seventy—a Melchizedek Priesthood office that is primarily concerned with missionary work and the spreading of the gospel throughout the world. See also Quorums of the Seventy.
single adult committee—a group organized in a ward to consider the needs of the single adults in the ward. The committee usually includes a member of the bishopric, the ward single adult representatives (one male and one female), a member of the elders quorum presidency, a member of the high priest group leadership, and a member of the relief Society presidency. The single adult committee meets at least quarterly.
sister—a generic term to denote any adult female in the Church; a form of address used instead of Miss, Ms., or Mrs. The term reminds members of their relationship to God and to each other.
ward or stake “split”—a slang term used to describe a change in ward or stake boundaries, particularly when a ward or stake is divided into two smaller ones.
stake—a group of approximately eight wards (or wards and branches) that are grouped together geographically for purposes of common leadership. While each ward is governed by its bishop, the several bishops are responsible to the stake president and his counselors. Stakes are mentioned in Isaiah 54:1–2; Moroni 10:31; and D&C 115:6.
stake center—one of the larger ward meetinghouses that is designated the stake center and which contains an extra set of offices for the stake presidency and high council. Stake meetings are usually held in the stake center.
stake conference—a group of Saturday and Sunday meetings occurring semi-annually, which includes all the wards in the stake. on Sundays when stake conference is held, there are no ward meetings.
stake dances—monthly dances sponsored by the stake and to which all of the youth in the stake are invited.
stake presidency—the stake presidency consists of the stake president and his two counselors, assisted by the stake clerk and stake executive secretary.
Standard works—the four books of scripture that are accepted as scriptural cannon by the LDS Church. These include the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
stewardship—a term referring to the people, programs, and property for which a leader has responsibility.
Sunbeams—the youngest Primary class, consisting of children 3–4 years of age.
Sunday School—an auxiliary of the Church designed to teach members about the gospel and the scriptures. A forty-minute portion of the three-hour Sunday block of meetings is devoted to Sunday School.
sustain—the process of allowing all ward members to approve those who will lead them. During ward and stake conferences, members are asked to raise their hands to approve all officers at the ward, stake, and general Church levels. In addition, sustaining a person in his or her calling also means supporting and assisting the person through one’s actions. See also law of common consent.
talk—an oral presentation on a gospel subject. Unlike some churches where the ministers do all the preaching, the LDS Church relies on its members for most of the teaching. Thus, members will be found giving talks in many Church meetings, including sacrament meetings and Primary.
teachers quorum—a group of young men, 14–15 years of age, who hold the office of teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood and who meet together on Sundays for gospel instruction.
temple—literally the House of the Lord; in ancient times, a sacred building that the Lord commanded to be constructed, wherein sacred ordinances were performed. The building of temples was part of the restoration of the gospel. Today, the Church operates 130 temples worldwide, with more under construction, in which the ordinances of endowment, sealings, and baptisms for the dead are conducted.
temple clothes—sacred white ceremonial clothing worn by those who attend the temple. White is used because it symbolizes purity before the Lord. An additional benefit is that when all people are dressed alike, there are no distinctions between them and a sense of equality prevails.
temple dedication—a ceremony held to consecrate new temples so that ordinance work may begin. After dedication, public tours are no longer given, and only worthy Church members may enter.
temple marriage—a marriage performed in the temple that includes a sealing ceremony to seal the couple together for eternity, if they remain worthy. Any children born to the couple after their temple sealing are automatically sealed to them. See also sealing.
temple matrons—the wives of the temple presidency. They are called to serve in the temple along with their husbands.
temple presidency—a group of three high priests called to direct the operation of a temple. The presidency is composed of the president and his two counselors.
temple recommend, temple recommend interview—those desiring to attend the temple must participate in two temple recommend interviews, one with a member of the bishopric (or branch presidency), and then one with a member of the stake presidency. If the person is found worthy in both interviews, he or she is issued a wallet-sized document—a recommend—that admits them to the temples of the Church for the next two years. A Church member must show a valid recommend each time he or she attends the temple.
temple work—a generic term used to refer to attending the temple and performing ordinances there.
temple worthy—a term used to describe those that are worthy to 218
enter the temple. The youth and the new converts of the Church are often urged to keep themselves worthy to attend the temple and do baptisms for the dead, as well as remaining worthy to eventually enter the temple to be married. New converts must wait a year after baptism to be able to enter the temple for their own endowments and temple sealing.
testimony—a personal conviction that a person develops regarding the truthfulness of the Church and its teachings, doctrines, and leaders. The monthly fast and testimony meeting is where many Saints most often bear their testimony.
three-hour block—the current meeting schedule followed by most wards and branches of the Church each Sunday. Each ward meets for a three-hour time period that includes sacrament meeting, Sunday School, relief Society, Priesthood meeting, Primary, young Men, and young Women.
tithing—a financial donation to the Church that represents one-tenth of a person’s income. The payment of a full tithing is expected of worthy Church members and is necessary to progress in the kingdom of God. Along with several other requirements, the payment of a full tithe is essential for obtaining a temple recommend.
tithing settlement—a yearly meeting with the bishop to balance the ward’s record of the member’s donations with the member’s records of his or her donations. The bishop also inquires whether or not the member has paid a full tithe during the year.
tracting—an activity performed by full-time missionaries in which they walk through a neighborhood, knocking on all the doors as they look for investigators to teach. This activity may also involve passing out Church-related tracts.
triple combination—a single printed volume in which are bound the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
unit—a generic term that is used to mean either a ward or a branch of the Church.
visiting teacher, visiting teaching—the visiting teaching program of the relief Society is similar to the priesthood home teaching program. Each pair of visiting teachers is assigned to teach one or more relief Society sisters each month, providing a lesson and support to the member and reporting any serious problems back to the relief Society president.
visitors’ center—an information center designed to teach non-members and investigators about the Church. These centers are usually located near temples or Church historical sites and have many different programs and audiovisual presentations designed to help investigators understand the doctrines, history, beliefs, and practices of the Church.
ward—the most basic organizational grouping of Church members. Wards are groups of 300–500 Saints living within common geographical boundaries. The ward is led by a bishop and his two counselors, assisted by other ward leaders.
ward adviser—a member of the stake high council assigned to visit and assist the leadership of a specific ward, acting as a liaison between the bishop and stake president.
ward budget—a yearly amount of funds given by the stake to each ward to finance their operations. The budget must be used to cover all ward expenses and finance activities planned by all ward organizations.
ward conference—a yearly conference in which the stake presidency (or a member of the stake presidency) visits the ward sacrament meeting and delivers a gospel message, usually accompanied by a message from the bishop. Stake priesthood and auxiliary leaders often attend and participate in the other Sunday meetings.
ward council—a monthly meeting of the ward’s priesthood and auxiliary leaders who come together to address the needs of the ward and to plan future ward activities and programs.
ward mission leader—the priesthood holder called to coordinate all missionary activities in the ward between the full-time missionaries and the ward members.
welfare—the general category of Church programs that are designed to look after the physical needs of Church members. The bishop is given the responsibility of looking after the physical and emotional needs of all the members of his ward. At his disposal are a number of ward, stake, and general Church services designed to help meet these needs.
welfare committee—committees that exist at both the ward and 220
stake levels and are designed to identify and address the welfare needs of Church members. These committees often address such issues as unemployment, food production and storage, and financial planning.
welfare services mission—a type of full-time mission in which the missionaries spend their time doing things that improve the physical welfare of the people they serve. Examples include medical specialists who work in clinics and those who teach parents the proper care of infants.
Word of Wisdom—a doctrine and code of health practiced by members of the Church. It gives guidelines for the use of certain foods and substances and prohibits the used of tobacco, alcohol, coffee, and tea. The Word of Wisdom is found in Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants.
workfare—a principle associated with all Church welfare programs in that members are expected to perform work for the assistance they receive.
worthiness interview—one of several interviews designed to determine the worthiness of Church members. Examples of worthiness interviews include temple recommend interviews and the interview males receive before being given the priesthood.
year’s supply—a Church welfare program designed to motivate Church members to maintain a year’s supply of food and other necessities. These supplies help during individual and family emergencies such as unemployment, and also help during local emergencies such as earthquakes.
Young Men—a program of the Church designed to instruct and motivate young men ages 12–18.
young single adult—a member of the Church who is not married and is between the ages of 18 and 30.
young single adult council—a stake group that meets to consider the needs of the young single adults living in the stake.
young single adult representative—a young single adult called to represent all the young single adults in the ward. The representative is often asked to attend ward and stake meetings related to young single adults.
Young Women in Excellence—a program designed to encourage and assist young women in choosing one of the young Women values (see below) and to set goals to develop that value in their lives.
Young Women presidency—the women called to provide leadership for the young Women program. The presidency consists of the president and her two counselors.
Young Women values—a program designed to teach and assist the young Women in developing eight different values in their lives. These values are faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, integrity, and virtue.
youth conference—a planned program of speakers, seminars, and social activities designed to strengthen the testimonies of the young men and young women of the Church. youth conferences are usually organized at the stake or multi-stake level, and often involve traveling away from home for two or three days of activities.
youth interview—regular individual interviews with the youth of the ward conducted by a member of the bishopric.
Zion—the origin of the word means “pure in heart.” It is usually used as a term to describe any location where the Saints of the Church are gathered. It also refers to the future City of Zion, known in the scriptures as the New Jerusalem.
D. Lauritsen, Mormons Under a Microscope, (Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort, Inc., 2010), 199-222.