List of denominations in the Latter Day Saint movement

List of historical and current Latter Day Saint denominations / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The denominations in the Latter Day Saint movement are sometimes collectively referred to as Mormonism. Although some denominations oppose the use of this term because they consider it derogatory, it is especially used when referring to the largest Latter Day Saint group, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), and offshoots of it. Denominations opposed to the use of the term consider it to be connected to the polygamy once practiced by the Utah church[1][2] or to pejoratives used against early adherents of the movement.[3][4]

An 1842 portrait of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement

The Latter Day Saint movement includes:

  • The original church within this movement, founded in April 1830 in New York by Joseph Smith, was the Church of Christ. It was later named the "Church of the Latter Day Saints". It was renamed the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" in 1838 (stylized as the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" in the United Kingdom),[5] which remained its official name until Smith's death in 1844. This organization subsequently splintered into several different denominations, each of which claims to be the legitimate continuation of this original church. Most of these dispute the right of other denominations within the movement to claim this distinction.
  • The largest denomination within the contemporary movement is the LDS Church, with approximately 16 million members.[6] It is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, and uses the term Latter-day Saints to describe itself and its members (note the hyphenation and variation in capitalization usage).
  • The second-largest denomination is the Community of Christ (it was first named the "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints", which lasted from 1872 to 2001). This is a Missouri-based, 250,000-member denomination. Although members of this church have traditionally been called Latter Day Saints (without the hyphen), the Community of Christ has more recently stated that it rejects the use of the term Saints as a designation for its members in any official reference or publication.[7]
  • Other denominations within the movement either formed around various would-be successors to Smith, or else broke from denominations that did. These, together with the two denominations listed above, are detailed in the table of denominations within the Latter Day Saint movement, below.

Although a few small factions broke with Smith's organization during his lifetime, he retained the allegiance of the vast majority of Latter Day Saints until his death in June 1844. Following Smith's death, the movement underwent a leadership crisis which led to a schism within the church. The largest group followed Brigham Young and settled in what became the Utah Territory and is now the Utah-based LDS Church. The second-largest faction, Community of Christ, coalesced around Joseph Smith III, eldest son of Joseph Smith. Other would-be leaders included the senior surviving member of the First Presidency, Sidney Rigdon; the newly baptized James Strang from Wisconsin; and Alpheus Cutler, one of the Council of Fifty. Each of these men still retains a following as of 2014—however tiny it may be in some cases—and all of their organizations have undergone further schisms.[8][9][10] Other claimants, such as Granville Hedrick, William Bickerton and Charles B. Thompson, later emerged to start still other factions, some of which have further subdivided.

Diagram showing over 70 branches of Mormonism with their relative origins and approximate years of division. The thicker central line after 1844 is the largest by numbers Brighamite branch.