In a log cabin in Fayette, N.Y., a small gathering of people organized a church. It was April 6, 1830, and that church was the Church of Jesus Christ restored again upon the earth. Eight years later, on April 26, 1838, the Lord made known to the Prophet Joseph Smith the proper name of His Church: "For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." (Doctrine and Covenants 115:4.)
In April 1990, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke of the proper name of the Lord's Church: "Today I would like to speak about a name. We are all pleased when our names are pronounced and spelled correctly. Sometimes a nickname is used instead of the real name. But a nickname may offend either the one named or the parents who gave the name. The name of which I shall speak is not a personal name, yet the same principles apply. I refer to a name given by the Lord."
Elder Nelson then quoted Doctrine and Covenants 115:4, and said: "Note carefully the language of the Lord. He did not say, 'Thus shall my church be named.' He said, 'Thus shall my church be called.' Years ago, its members were cautioned by the Brethren who wrote: 'We feel that some may be misled by the too frequent use of the term 'Mormon Church.' Before any other name is considered to be a legitimate substitute, the thoughtful person might reverently consider the feelings of the Heavenly Parent who bestowed that name.
"Surely, every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord is precious. So each word in this name must be important divinely designated for a reason. If we study the key words in that name, we can better understand the name's full significance."
Elder Nelson then spoke of such key words:
- Saints: "Despite its use in 98 verses of the Bible, the term saint is still not well understood. Some mistakenly think that it implies beatification or perfection. Not so! A saint is a believer in Christ, and knows of His perfect love. The giving saint shares in a true spirit of that love, and the receiving saint accepts in a true spirit of gratitude. A saint serves others, knowing that the more one serves, the greater the opportunity for the Spirit to sanctify and purify."
- Latter-day: "We live in [the] latter days, and they are really remarkable. The Lord's Spirit is being poured out upon all inhabitants of the earth, precisely as the Prophet Joel foretold. His prophecy was of such significance that the Angel Moroni reaffirmed it to the Prophet Joseph Smith." (See Joel 2:28-32; Joseph SmithHistory 1:41.)
- Jesus Christ: "By divine directive, the title of the Church bears the sacred name of Jesus Christ, whose church this is. He so decreed more than once. Nearly 2,000 years ago, the Lord said, 'Ye shall call the church in my name; . . . And how be it my church save it be called in my name?' (3 Nephi 27:7-8.) We worship God the Eternal Father in the name of His Son by the power of the Holy Ghost. We know the premortal Jesus to be Jehovah, God of the Old Testament. We know Him to be 'the chief corner stone' upon which the organization of His Church is based." (Ephesians 2:20.)
- Church: "The first two words of the name the Lord chose for His earthly organization are The Church. Note that the article The begins with a capital letter. This is an important part of the title, for the Church is the official organization of baptized believers who have taken upon themselves the name of Christ.
"The Church is the way by which the Master accomplishes His work and bestows His glory. Its ordinances and related covenants are the crowning rewards of our membership. While many organizations can offer fellowship and fine instruction, only His Church can provide baptism, confirmation, ordination, the sacrament, patriarchal blessings, and the ordinances of the temple all bestowed by authorized priesthood power. That power is destined to bless all children of our Heavenly Father, regardless of their nationality."