The Community of Christ, originally known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is a religious group that formed after the death of Joseph Smith, Jr on June 27, 1844; it was a number of groups which formed out of the early Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints (others were the present-day Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), the Strangites, and Temple Lot), all of whom claimed to be the true successor to the original church.
Following the founder's death, the church fell into a state of confusion, and split into factions. The largest of these, led by Brigham Young, moved to the Great Salt Lake Valley, and retained the original name. A smaller faction remained in Illinois for various reasons, including disagreements with the Twelve Apostles and the hardship of travel. Some of this group rejected Brigham Young's leadership and believed that Joseph Smith Jr. appointed his eldest son, Joseph Smith III, as his successor. Joseph Smith III and his mother, Emma Smith Bidamon, originally rejected offers to lead the new movement, until April 6, 1860, when the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was organized. There is still debate on whether or not Emma Smith Bidamon (who remarried after the death of her husband, Joseph Smith, Jr.) was ever an official member of the Reorganized Church, although she played the organ at many of their meetings and appeared supportive of her son. However, nobody argues that Emma associated herself with Brigham Young's group after her husband's death. The Community of Christ claim that she was voted in (or sustained) as a member of the then RLDS Church (for more infomration see the Community of Christ Web site FAQs).
Joseph Smith III died on December 10, 1914, leaving the Reorganized Church without a leader. His son Frederick Madison Smith was accepted shortly afterwards as the new leader of the church, with his becoming the new president of the church in 1915. Until several years ago, succession in the church leadership has continued largely along patriarchal lines as it passed from father to son. However, when one of its latest presidents had only daughters and no sons, the church changed its policy to admit women to the priesthood and formulated a new policy to appoint successors in church leadership.
The scriptures of the Community of Christ include the Inspired Version of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants although they include a different subset of the revelations of Joseph Smith than the LDS version. Unlike the LDS, it does not count the Pearl of Great Price among its scriptures, but does recognize the Lectures on Faith.
On April 6, 2001 this group changed its name from the "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" to the present name, the "Community of Christ".