“Call the Church in His Name,” New Era, Oct. 2020, page–page.
When President Russell M. Nelson spoke about using the correct name of the Church, his message was very clear to me: “It is the command of the Lord. … To remove the Lord’s name from the Lord’s Church is a major victory for Satan” (“The Correct Name of the Church,” Oct. 2018 general conference [Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2018, 87, 88]).
Committed to using the Church’s full name, I waited for the next opportunity to claim my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sure enough, that opportunity came. “You Mormons are such kind people,” someone told me.
“Well, thank you,” I answered. “As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe we’re all brothers and sisters.” Then the conversation continued with him and everyone else talking about the kindness of “Mormons.”
Although I had done my part in saying the full name of the Church, my friends and associates still viewed me as part of the “Mormon Church” and not necessarily as a follower of Christ, let alone as a member of Christ’s restored Church.
Over the next several interactions about my faith, I found it awkward to say the full name of the Church multiple times in the same conversation. Everyone I spoke to seemed to give me odd expressions. And they continued to use the term “Mormons.”
I wanted to make my interactions feel more natural. But this turned out to be more difficult than I expected, particularly with individuals I didn’t want to offend. I didn’t want to be embarrassed or lazy about living my faith, but I also didn’t want to come across as harsh, since many of these people had previously called me “Mormon,” with me accepting it. I also heard many members of the Church still calling members of the Church “Mormons.”
I found myself asking whether using the full name of the Church was really that important in the grand scheme of things. The “Mormon” brand, after all, is quite positive in the minds of many people—being a “Mormon” had often been an asset to me. But in revisiting President Nelson’s talk, I was impressed that this really is that important, even if it did cause some awkwardness in conversation. So I recommitted myself.
One day I was visiting a friend at a church of another faith. Someone came up to me and with a bright smile asked if I was a Mormon. “Yes, I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” I said.
He started asking me several questions, each beginning with: “Does the Mormon Church believe … ?”
And each time, I began my answer with the phrase: “In the restored Church of Jesus Christ, we believe …”
This banter went back and forth several times. When he noticed that I wasn’t accepting the title “Mormon,” he asked me point-blank, “Are you not Mormon?”
So I asked him if he knew who Mormon was—he didn’t. I told him that Mormon was a prophet, a historian, and a military general in the ancient Americas. I am honored to be associated with a man who was so dedicated to the service of God and others.
“But,” I continued, “Mormon didn’t die for my sins. Jesus Christ is my God and my Savior. He is my Redeemer. And it is by His name that I want to be known at the last day, and it’s by His name that I hope to be known today.”
I felt the assurance of the Spirit supporting me in this short testimony to my new acquaintance. After a few seconds of silence, he said, “So, you’re a Christian?”
“Yes, I’m a Christian,” I responded, “and a member of Christ’s restored Church.”
Seeking to follow the instruction of the prophet seemed simple, but it turned out to take more effort than I expected. I’m still not perfect at following everything I’m asked to do, but I make sure to use the full name of the Church.
I’m grateful for the Spirit that I feel when I get to testify to others about my Savior and my membership in His Church.
The author lives in Virginia, USA.