(RNS) Delegates to a worldwide meeting of the Reorganized Church ofJesus Christ of Latter Day Saints voted Friday (April 7) to change thechurch's name to Community of Christ.

The change, which was approved by a vote of 1,979 in favor to 561opposed,will begin sometime after Jan. 1, 2001.

Discussions about changing the name have gone on for years.

In a statement announcing the change, the church said its 1994 JointCouncil decided the "Community of Christ" name was consistent with thechurch's theology and mission.

"It honors church heritage while offering a positive image for whatthe church is called to be in the future," the statement reads.

The new name failed to win approval at two earlier worldwidemeetings of the church, in 1996 and 1998. Even now that the new name hasbeen approved, the name "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of LatterDay Saints" will be retained for some legal purposes.

Members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter DaySaints trace their beginnings to the start of the Church of Jesus Christof Latter-day Saints in 1830. Members of the "reorganized" body begantheir own church in 1860 under the leadership of Joseph Smith III, theson of the founder of the Mormon church.