Please welcome guest blogger Shannon Avery.
Shannon is a wife, a mom, a business and social media consultant,
a writer, an avid genealogist....and a Missionary Momma!
Guide to “Mormonish”
Whether you’re a lifetime member, a new member, or not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormon or LDS church), you’ve undoubtedly noticed that we have our own language. Here’s a little breakdown for those who are still trying to understand what the heck we’re saying!
Most of the REAL definitions (the IS parts!) came from either www.lds.org or www.mormon.org. You can find just about anything you want to know about Mormons (the true stuff…) using the “search” feature on those sites. Please understand that the phrases Mormon, LDS, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and “the Church” are used interchangeably, and they mean the same thing.
BAPTISMS FOR THE DEAD:
Is NOT: Exhuming dead bodies and baptizing them.
IS: A proxy baptism in behalf of those who have died. This is performed by a living person, for a person who died without having the opportunity to be baptized while they were alive. As we all have freedom to choose in this life and in the next, anyone who does not wish to accept their proxy baptism after they have died will not be forced to. This was taught by Christ and His apostles in the early Church (see 1 Corinthians 15:29).
It’s NOT: A home for winged, honey producing insects.
IS: A 12 or 13 year old girl, and the first class in the Young Women’s organization (see also Young Women, Mia Maid, and Laurel).
Is NOT: A piece in the board game of chess.
IS: The leader of a local congregation (known as a WARD, see below) with duties similar to those of a pastor, priest or rabbi. In The Church, Bishops, and all other positions, are unpaid.
BLOCK MEETINGS or THE BLOCK:
Is NOT: A neighborhood party or a child’s toy.
IS: The three hour time frame in which Mormons attend normal Sunday church meetings. Used in context, one might say, “I will see you during the block,” or “Brother Jones attends the next block of meetings.”
It’s NOT: The part of a tree that grows out from the trunk.
It IS: A smaller version of a WARD (see below)
Is NOT: Your male sibling.
IS: What we call any male in the church. It goes along with the idea that we are all children of God, and brothers and sisters in Christ.
Is NOT: The first name of every male missionary in the church.
IS: An office of the Melchizedek Priesthood. Also used as a title for male missionaries or General Authorities of the Church.
FAMILY HOME EVENING (FHE):
Is NOT: A place where small children are bribed to sit quietly (“If you’re good, we’ll have treats!”) while parents pontificate using felt cutouts, popsicle sticks, and charades to explain church doctrine while their teenagers are sleeping on the floor….okay, it is…. Just kidding!
IS: A time set aside, usually on Monday evenings, to build family unity and to teach gospel principles to our families.
Is NOT: A Sabbath when you get dressed, drive, or do any other activity with great speed.
IS: A Sunday, usually the first one of each month, on which Mormons abstain from food and drink for two meals and donate the equivalent cost, or more, to the Church to assist the poor and needy.
Is NOT: A place to roast marshmallows and tell ghost stories.
IS: A supplementary, evening meeting, usually held for members of a congregation or group of congregations in an area. A fireside is most commonly held on Sunday evenings, but may be held on any day of the week.
Is NOT: Associated with homeschooling or teaching homebound students.
IS: A priesthood holder responsible for visiting assigned families from their congregation at least once each month to teach and strengthen them, and to assess any needs.
Is NOT: A hospital for mentally incompetent or unbalanced persons (well, some might debate this with us!)
IS: Religion classes for college aged young people. From lds.org: “The Institute of Religion is a place where young adults understand and rely on the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ, qualify for the blessings of the temple, and prepare themselves, their families, and others for eternal life with their Father in Heaven.”
Is NOT: A sweet smelling, evergreen shrub.
IS: A 16 or 17 year old girl, and the third class in the Young Women’s organization (see also Young Women, Beehive, and Mia Maid).
Is NOT: What home teachers are supposed to do (see HOME TEACHER above).
IS: When members stay after church to share a potluck lunch or dinner.
Is NOT: A young woman who is missing in action.
IS: A 14 or 15 year old girl, and the second class in the Young Women’s organization (see also Young Women, Beehive, and Laurel).
Is NOT to be confused with “Motown.”
IS: The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. According to their website, the choir “is dedicated to the universal language of music that has the power to bring joy, peace, and healing to its listeners. Made up of hundreds of volunteers from all walks of life, this unique music organization transcends cultural and generational boundaries and brings together people from around the world through stirring music. The Choir, the Orchestra at Temple Square, and the Bells on Temple Square act as goodwill ambassadors for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
MTC (Missionary Training Center):
Is NOT: The “empty sea,” or the “Mormon Tabernacle Choir” (see MoTAB above).
IS: The place where missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints train and learn languages before traveling to their assigned missions. There are currently 15 MTCs worldwide.
It’s NOT: What you think it is….
It IS: A regularly scheduled activity for young men and young women, where there is mutual respect and support for one another. Mutual is held on a day or an evening other than Sunday or Monday.
P-DAY (Preparation Day):
Is NOT: “Play Day” or anything to do with using the toilet.
IS: The day when Mormon missionaries do their laundry, shop, can wear “street clothes” instead of their dress clothes, email and write to their families, clean their living quarters, exercise, and go site seeing.
Is NOT: A preliminary election to select the candidates for a presidential nomination.
IS: The name of the Church’s children’s organization, for children ages 18 months to 12 years old.
RELIEF SOCIETY (RS):
Is NOT: The same thing as the Red Cross or Goodwill Charities. Nor is it a trauma or addiction recovery program.
IS: A philanthropic and educational women's organization and an official auxiliary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was founded in 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois, USA and has approximately 6 million members in over 170 countries and territories. The Relief Society is the largest women’s organization in the world.
It’s NOT: A college that prepares students to be priests, ministers, or rabbis.
IS: A four-year religious education program for high school youth, ages 14-18. From their website: “In seminary, hundreds of thousands of students and their teachers meet, each weekday during the school year, to study The Bible (Old Testament and New Testament) the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants.” Youth who are not Mormon are also invited to participate. In most places in the world, seminary is taught either early in the morning or after school. In places where there is a large LDS presence, seminary may be offered during school hours off campus.
It’s NOT: A suite of rooms in a hospital or mental facility for people who are unmarried.
IS: Properly known as a “Young Single Adult” (YSA) ward, the singles ward is a congregation of young unmarried adults, ages 18 to 30, within a geographic area. Young Single Adults are not required to attend a YSA ward, but there are many social activities that they might enjoy and that will allow them to meet other people their age and with similar interests (see WARD below).
Is NOT: Your female sibling or a Catholic nun.
IS: What we call any female member of the church (see BROTHER above). It’s also the title we give all female missionaries.
It’s NOT: A delicious cut of beef.
It IS: A group of Mormon congregations in a geographic area. “Stake” is not a term found in the New Testament, but is taken from Old Testament tent imagery in which the “tent,” or church, is held up by supporting stakes (see Isaiah 54:2). (Also see WARD below)
It’s NOT: A place where you go to dine (BUT…. Mormons find all kinds of reasons to eat, so it’s likely there will be food at the stake center….don’t let this confuse you!).
It IS: The church building where several area congregations meet twice a year for stake conference. It is also the place where the leader of the stake (Stake President) has an office and oversees the membership of the stake.
Is NOT: A ray of sunlight.
IS: A 2 or 3 year old child, and the name of the very first Sunday school class (see PRIMARY above) a child attends.
IS: “The Lord's tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ” (David A. Bednar, April 2005 General Conference).
Is NOT: A teacher visiting from a distant area.
IS: A woman assigned to watch over and help another woman in her congregation. Two visiting teachers are assigned to each woman; they contact her at least once a month and encourage her efforts to live the gospel of Jesus Christ.
It’s NOT: A suite of rooms in a hospital or psychiatric facility.
IS: What we call our local congregation. Wards are organized geographically and members attend a ward near their home. Mormons use the word “ward” in two ways; 1) referring to the people in their local congregation, and 2) referring to the building where they attend church every week. Sometimes Mormons refer to the people in their local congregation as their “ward family.” See also BROTHER and SISTER.
YOUNG MEN’S (YM):
See YOUNG WOMEN’S below
YOUNG WOMEN’S (YW):
IS: The organization in the church for girls ages 12 to 18 years of age. Many times you’ll hear girls say, “I’m going to Young Women’s,” which really means they are either going to MUTUAL (see above), or they are going to their Young Women’s organization meeting (a one hour class on Sunday).
ZONE LEADER or DISTRICT LEADER or SISTER TRAINING LEADER:
Is NOT: A military rank or level in a pyramid scheme.IS: Part of the leadership team in an LDS mission. Zone, District, and Sister Training Leaders are responsible for training, checking up on, and caring for a determined number of missionaries in their assigned areas within the mission boundaries.