Fourteen year old Joseph Smith wondered what church he should join. In the spring of 1820 during a religious revival in the community of Palmyra, New York, Joseph was confused about conflicting messages from different religious leaders. He went into the woods, knelt in prayer and asked God which of the churches he should align himself with. Miraculously, God the Father appeared to Joseph along with his son, Jesus Christ, and told Joseph that he should join none of the churches, for the true church of Christ had been lost from the earth. Joseph was chosen by God to restore the true church to the world.
Throughout the course of the next ten years, Joseph gradually restored the fullness of the gospel to the earth, starting with the translation of the Book of Mormon, a record of Jesus Christ’s visit to the American continent after his resurrection. The record was written on golden plates and hidden in a hillside, which God directed Joseph to find. Joseph also restored the organization of Jesus Christ’s original church, just as Christ himself established it in Jerusalem with a prophet at the head of the church and a quorum of twelve apostles. Along with that, God restored through Joseph the true priesthood power that had been lost after Christ’s death. Joseph and his followers built temples, beautiful structures dedicated to performing saving ordinances through God’s true priesthood power.
The early Latter-day Saints experienced much persecution in their settlements in Ohio, Missouri and Illinois. Shortly after the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Saints moved westward under the direction of their new prophet, Brigham Young. After great trials in crossing the plains in handcart companies, the Saints settled in the Salt Lake Valley. Today, Salt Lake City, Utah remains the headquarters of the church, but it now spans the world. The expansive missionary program run by the church has spread the complete gospel of Jesus Christ to people on every continent seeking for truth and light.