A Brief History of the Mormon Church


  • 1805 

The founder of the Mormon Church (which Mormons call 'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints'), Joseph Smith, Jr., was born on December 23rd in Sharon, Vermont.

  • 1820 

(Spring). Joseph Smith, Jr. pointed to this time when he claimed to have been visited from God the Father and Jesus Christ, who tell him that all churches are wrong, that all their creeds are an obomination, and that the professors of those creeds are corrupt.

  • 1823 

Joseph was allegedly visited by an angel named Moroni three times. From these visits a series of lessons occured resulting in the alleged discovery of gold plates, which Joseph claimed to have found buried in the Hill Cumorah, near Palmyra, Manchester, New York.

  • 1827 

Joseph allegedly received the gold plates from Moroni, which were supposedly written in 'Reformed Egyptian.' Joseph claimed that it was the historic records of a New World people. Joseph claimed to have translated the writings into what is now called the Book of Mormon.

  • 1829 

Joseph Smith and his scribe Oliver Cowdery, were allegedly visited by John the Baptist. They claimed to have receive the 'Aaronic Priesthood' from him on May 15 that year as part of the restoration of God's Church on earth. Later (probably Summer of 1829), they had claimed to have been visited by Peter, James, and John, who allegedly gave Joseph and Oliver the 'Melchizedek Priesthood.'

  • 1830 

The Book of Mormon was printed in Palmyra, New York. On April 6th, the Mormon Church (then called the Church of Christ) was organized with six members.

  • 1831 

The Mormon Church's membership had grown to around 3,200 and moved to Kirtland, Ohio.

  • 1832 

Mormons started settlements in Missouri.

  • 1833 

Joseph Smith published the Book of Commandments - a collection of sixty-five alleged revelations he claimed to have received from God. (Up to that time seventy-one revelations had allegedly been given, but only sixty-five were included due to the destruction of the printing press facility in Zion - Independence, Missouri.)

  • 1834 

The name of the Mormon Church was changed to the Church of the Latter Day Saints.

  • 1835 

The Book of Commandments was updated with 'new revelations' and changes were made without any indications. The title was changed from the Book of Commandments to Doctrine and Covenants.

  • 1838 

The name of the Mormon Church was changed to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  • 1838-1839 

Due to conflicts, Mormons were driven out of Missouri. Settlements started in what was to become Nauvoo, Illinois.

  • 1840

The Mormon Church grew to about 17,000 members.

  • 1843

God allegedly gave a revelation that polygamy is allowed to be practiced. However, this 'revelation' was not formally announced until 1852, was not included in Mormon 'scriptures' until 1876, and was not voted on until 1880. (This 'revelation' can be found in today's Doctrine and Covenants, section 132, which reveals that Joseph had known these 'doctrines and principles' since 1831).

  • 1844

On June 7th, Mayor Smith and the Nauvoo City Council authorized The Nauvoo Expositor to be destroyed. (The Nauvoo Expositor press had exposed the Church's practice of polygamy). On June 25th, Joseph and his brother Hyrum Smith were arrested for the destruction of The Nauvoo Expositor. On June 27th, they were attacked and killed in jail by a mob. Joseph had tried to defend himself with a six-shooter. Two men from the mob were reported to have been killed.

  • 1846-1847

The Mormon Church was led by it's second President, Brigham Young, into what is now called Salt Lake City, Utah.

  • 1857

On September 11th, Mormon Bishop John D. Lee led a massacre known as the infamous Mountain Meadows Massacre, where 120 non-Mormon men, women, and children were attacked and killed.

  • 1860

The Mormon Church grew to about 61,000 members.

  • 1882

The Edmund Act was passed by Congress which provided heavy penalties for the practice of polygamy.

  • 1890

On October 6th, a Manifesto issued by Wilfred Woodruff which asked Mormons to stop practicing polygamy, called Official Declaration - 1, was accepted by a Mormon Church General Conference, and is accepted today as 'authoritative and binding.'

  • 1890

The Mormon Church grew to about 188,000 members.

  • 1950

The Mormon Church grew to about 1,111,000 members.

  • 1967

An Egyptian Funeral text called "Book of Breathings" (written about 1500 years after Abraham's day) was rediscovered. This papyri was allegedly used by Joseph Smith in 1835 to translate the Mormon 'scripture' Book of Abraham. Interestingly, it was also one of the first Egyptian papyri to find its way to America. It was purchased (along with some other papyrus fragments) by the founder of the Mormon Church, Joseph Smith, Jr., from a traveling mummy show in Kirtland, Ohio. The so called "Book of Abraham" papyri was mistakenly thought to have been lost in the 1871 Great Chicago Fire, but was rediscovered and purchased by the Mormon Church.

  • 1970

The Mormon Church grew to about 2,931,000 members.

  • 1978

Official Declaration - 2 was accepted which allows all worthy males to receive the 'priesthood.' Prior to this declaration, any man who had African blood were not allowed to hold any 'priesthood authority.'

  • 1980

The Mormon Church grew to about 4,640,000 members.

  • 1991

The Mormon Church grew to about 8,100,000 members. 

  • 2008 

The Mormon Church grew to about 13,500,000 members.

  • 2013

A number of changes made to Mormon 'scripture' including Introduction to the Book Of Mormon, where it says the Lamanites were 'among' the ancestors of the American Indians. Prior editions said the Lamanites were the 'principle' ancestors of the American Indians. Source: https://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/english/pdf/scriptures/approved-adjustments_eng.pdf

  • 2018

President Nelson stated on August 16, "The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints... remember that there is only one Church in all the world that by divine command bears the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.” The title, Mormon, is no longer to be used.

  • 2022

The Mormon Church grew to about 16,805,400 members.


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