Church Lingo 101
You may have heard a few words or acronyms you don’t understand. That’s because over the years, a lot of our common terms have become second nature to us—but may be foreign to you. We’ve compiled some of these terms and their definitions below. How many have you heard?
The name “Mormon Church” is a nickname others gave to Church members because we use the Book of Mormon. The official name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We use the full name of the Church whenever possible as a reminder that Christ is central to it.
You may have guessed this one. LDS is an abbreviation for “Latter-day Saint,” referring to a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "LDS Church" is another nickname we avoid.
A ward is a local congregation. It’s a group of Church members who live within a specific geographic area. A ward generally consists of a few hundred members and is presided over by a volunteer church leader called a Bishop. We also have branches. Branches are much smaller congregations in areas with fewer Church members.
A stake is also a geographical unit of the Church, made up of several wards and branches, similar to a Catholic diocese. They have meetings or conferences at the “stake” house or large meetinghouse. Which is not to be confused with a “steakhouse” (although that is a good place for meetings too).
This is not a Sunday that goes by faster than others. On the first Sunday of each month, Church members fast, or voluntarily go without food and drink for two meals, in order to grow closer to God. The Church encourages members to take the money they would have spent on food and donate it as an offering to help the poor.
This is the name of our Church group for children ages 3–11. The Primary children periodically sing as a group during sacrament meeting and participate in other group activities.
If someone calls a three-year-old a Sunbeam, it’s not necessarily because they are a little ray of light (although some would argue that they are). It’s because that’s the name of the children’s class for these young ones. The term comes from the song “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam.”
CTR stands for “choose the right.” It’s a motto young Primary children learn, and they receive a CTR ring as a reminder to do what’s right. It’s also the name of many of the classes that Primary-age children attend (CTR 4–CTR 8, for the four- to eight-year-old children). Teens and adults sometimes continue to wear CTR rings or necklaces with these three significant letters.
Don’t bring marshmallows or expect to have a real fire at a Church fireside. Fireside is a name for a special Sunday night meeting that usually involves a guest speaker and some refreshments.
FHE stands for “family home evening,” a night once a week where families are encouraged to gather at home (usually on Monday evening) to spend time together, learn about Jesus, and participate in fun activities.