Nearly two months after President Nelson issued a statement regarding the use of the name of the Church on Aug. 16, ending the accepted usage of the term, “Mormon,” BYU-Hawaii students expressed that using the correct name of the Church will be a transition that needs time, but will ultimately strengthen the members and missionary work.
President Russell M. Nelson issued a statement in which he said the full name, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” is preferred when the Church is first referenced. However, “When a shortened reference is needed, the terms "the Church" or the "Church of Jesus Christ" are encouraged. The "Restored Church of Jesus Christ" is also accurate and encouraged.
The Church also asked, in the news release, that members stop using the nickname “Mormon Church” because it is not an authorized title and the Church discourages its use. Thus, 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." The recent statement released by the Church can be found on mormonnewsroom.org.
Taken by surprise, Keanu Dellona, a sophomore from California with an undecided major, said he never thought the name of the Church was an issue. Regardless, he believes the announcement from President Nelson was given for a reason and he expressed how he thinks this decision will help end confusion about the Church’s affiliation.
“This announcement has given us the opportunity to correct the world's view on us,” said Dellona. “It’s a positive thing because we are able to affirm who we truly are. For example, how there has been confusion with people believing we worship Joseph Smith, which we do not. Through proper names, we are able to clarify we do not worship Mormon, but we are Latter-day Saints who love and worship our Savior, Jesus Christ.
“Names themselves hold power. It gives people a place or organization to belong to. We must be careful to fully understand what names we put upon ourselves and upon the fellow members of that group.”
What do we call ourselves?
Amanda Abraham, a sophomore from Illinois studying hotel and tourism management believes the use of the Church’s authorized name would allow members to “have a distinct separation between other people who label themselves Mormon but aren’t members. People will know exactly who we are. I feel like people get mixed up with the other people who label themselves as Mormon because they think we all believe in the same thing.”
Dellona shared how he thought this action would lead members to evaluate themselves now that the name focuses on the use of Christ. He said, “Part of the process is to know why we are named what we are. For many who claim they’re Mormon, but aren’t really members, I believe it will cause them to open their eyes and re-evaluate what it really means to be a member of the Church.”
Some students like Arilla Utley, a senior from Oregon studying psychology, said the “transition will be hard. Most people may not adopt the use of the full name of the Church very easily. It’s too easy to say Mormon or LDS. I get why people saying The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a good way to start a conversation, but so is using the term Mormon or LDS.”
Abraham agreed with Utley and she said “some positive things that will come are people will remember we believe in Jesus Christ. They will know our church has been restored and it could spark interest in people, leading to some missionary work.”
Utley said, “Either way if a person needs to hear the gospel at that moment, regardless of what we say or what name we use, the Lord will find a way that they hear the gospel.”
How will this work out?
“The most important thing to know about the Church is that it’s Christ’s church,” said Utley. “I like that they are emphasizing that. I feel like they have been saying that for many years though, how we need to be more focused on that.
“With the whole “I’m a Mormon” thing and our websites being LDS.org and Mormon.org and Mormon Newsroom, it made it seem like it wasn’t really a big deal, like using those terms was still ok.”
Utley continued and questioned, “It is interesting how the Church leaders now have made an effort to try and get everyone to not say those things, even though they have already done so. It makes me wonder, what is it about this time that is different, or how are we going to make it stick this time?”
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir changed their name in accordance with the revelation from Pres. Nelson. According to Mormon Newsroom, the world-renowned choir will now be known as the Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square.
Abraham can’t help but ask herself “How will this work out?” However, she said it “makes sense on how we should be using ‘the Church,’ ‘the Church of Jesus Christ,’ or the full name of the Church… Those are official names and we want people to remember that we do believe in Jesus Christ- that’s the foundation of our church.”
Accepting the change, Dellona commented, “Many people, including myself, are used to the term “Mormon” in our everyday lives. The Church will have to reform many existing organizations that people are familiar with.”