SALT LAKE CITY — President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Thursday that church leaders have launched a major effort to use the full name of the church instead of nicknames or abbreviations.
“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,” President Nelson said in a statement. “We have work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with His will. In recent weeks, various Church leaders and departments have initiated the necessary steps to do so.”
A style guide released by the church alongside the statement said, “Please avoid using the abbreviation ‘LDS’ or the nickname ‘Mormon’ as substitutes for the name of the Church, as in ‘Mormon Church,’ ‘LDS Church,’ or ‘Church of the Latter-day Saints.'”
Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Pedestrians walk past the Church History Building in Salt Lake City on Thursday, August 16, 2018. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has issued new name guidelines, dropping the term “Mormon” in most uses.
The announcement and style guide raised questions about the future of the names of famous church institutions like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, LDS Business College and the Mormon Channel. It also appeared to represent a seismic cultural and linguistic shift with more heft than previous efforts to encourage members to avoid “Mormon,” a complicated term in church history.
Ironically, the announcement came via one of the church’s official websites, mormonnewsroom.org. That site and others, including possibly the church’s main website, lds.org, could receive updated names and shows the enormity of the challenge ahead for the church.
The church declined to comment on specifics, pointing to its statement, which added, “In the coming months, Church websites and materials will be updated to reflect this direction from President Nelson.”
For the past decade and more, the church has used the nickname “Mormon” in the official names of websites, media channels and international branding campaigns like “I’m a Mormon,” in which church members were encouraged to share in videos and written statements who they are in their regular lives and finish by stating their name and saying, “… and I’m a Mormon.”
Additionally, the terms are ingrained in daily life within the church.
“It’s going to be a huge lift internally,” said Patrick Mason, the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University. “It will be a monumental lift.”
He noted that church members quickly adopted the new vocabulary of ministering brothers and sisters, introduced in April, but said that Mormon is a “much steeper climb of name recognition.”
“There’s always been a kind of ambivalence about this, and I think the problem is a practical one of how do you get around the word Mormon? It’s a word that’s nearly 200 years old. It’s far better known than the preferred usage from the church.”
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