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Sunday, 3 July 2016



The son of a Vermont farmer, Joseph Smith, Jr. (December 23, 1805 – June 27, 1844) claimed that at the age of 14, while praying in a wooded area near his home, he was confronted by two heavenly messengers. The angels told Smith not to join any existing churches because all taught incorrect doctrines. The true church, he was informed, is not yet present on earth.

While praying one night in 1823 for forgiveness from his sins, Joseph Smith testified that he was visited by an angel named Moroni. The angel revealed the location of a buried book made of golden plates, which had been hidden in a nearby hillside in Manchester, New York.

A stained glass window showing Joseph Smith's First Vision.

Over the next four years, Joseph Smith made annual visits to the hill to retrieve the plates, but each time returned without them. However, on September 22, 1827, Smith successfully retrieved the plates and put them in a locked chest.

The golden plates contained a revelation written in reformed Egyptian. Smith said he translated them into English with the mysterious help of "Urim and Thummim" and they turned out to be to be a religious record of the ancient inhabitants of North America.

In March 1830 Smith's translation of the golden plates was published as the Book of Mormon. It was named after Mormon, the 4th century AD prophet–historian who compiled the book.

On April 6, 1830, Smith founded the Church of Latter-Day Saints in Fayette, New York. Smith and his associates claimed that it was a restoration of the 1st-century Christian church, which had fallen from God's favor and authority. He hoped that with the Church of Latter-Day Saints, the original Christian faith would be revived.

Mormonism grew westward as Smith sent missionaries to preach the restored gospel. In 1831, the church moved to Kirtland, in Lake County, Ohio where missionaries had made a large number of converts and five years later, the first Mormon temple was dedicated there.

Joseph Smith preaching to the Sac and Fox Indians who visited Nauvoo on August 12, 1841

The first Mormon missionaries sailed to Britain from America in 1837 to persuade people to join their church. Led by Heber C Kimball, the first UK Mormon baptisms took place in Preston, Lancashire.

On June 27, 1844, an armed mob stormed Carthage Jail, Illinois where Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were being held for inciting a riot.. Hyrum was killed instantly with a shot to the face. Smith was shot multiple times before falling out the window, crying, "Oh Lord my God!" He died shortly after hitting the ground.

1851 lithograph of Smith's body being mutilated. (Library of Congress).

Joseph Smith was buried in Nauvoo, and is interred there at the Smith Family Cemetery.

Brigham Young assumed leadership over the majority of Latter Day Saints.

The first Mormon pioneers made their exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois, westward on February 4, 1846. Led by Brigham Young, they endured an epic thousand-mile trek across desert country, reaching the valley of the Great Salt Lake in Utah on July 24, 1847. On their arrival the Mormon pioneers began to construct a society in isolation, based on their beliefs and values.

Mormon pioneers crossing the Mississippi on the ice

29 days after arriving in the Salt Lake Valley, on August 22, 1847, Brigham Young founded the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

On June 9, 1856 a group of Mormon pioneers began leaving Iowa City, Iowa, and headed west for Salt Lake City, carrying all their possessions in two-wheeled handcarts. The Mormon handcart movement, which began on this date continued until 1860. These handcart pioneers have become an important symbol in Church of the Latter Day Saints culture.

In Utah the church began the open practice of plural marriage, a form of polygamy which Smith had instituted in Nauvoo. However, vigorous opposition to it by the United States Congress threatened the church's existence as a legal institution.

Brigham Young married a total of 55 wives, 54 of them after he converted to Mormonism. Young married his 27th wife, 24-year-old Ann Eliza Webb, on April 6. 1868, By then he was 69 and already had 47 children.

By the time of his death on August 29, 1877, Young had 56 children by 16 of his wives; 46 of his children reached adulthood.

Brigham Young

In 1890 Church of Latter Day Saints president Wilford Woodruff announced the official end of plural marriage. Because of the formal abolition of plural marriage, several smaller groups of Mormons broke with the LDS Church forming several denominations of Mormon fundamentalist groups.

For the first 148 years, African-American men were not considered equal members of the Mormon church because they were thought to be the sons of Cain. In 1978 the Church of Latter-Day Saints opened its priesthood to "all worthy men", finally ending their policy of excluding black men.

Due to their high birth and conversion rates, the Mormon population has grown significantly in recent decades rising from around three million in 1970 to over 15 million in 2015. 6.1 million of them reside in the Unites States.


The Mormon Tabernacle Church in Salt Lake City, Utah, was built without any nails.

The Tabernacle in the 1870s

The incidence of cancer among strict Mormons in Utah is only about half that among Americans in general.

Mormons wear special underwear called temple garments under their clothes as a source of protection from the evils of the world.

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