This April of 2015 is the 100th anniversary of the start of Family Home Evening. Back in April of 1915 The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints (LDS Church) which consisted of Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, and Charles W. Penrose, wrote a letter to its members introducing the idea of family home evening. For family home evening, leaders encouraged fathers and mothers to gather their children about them and “teach them the word of the Lord” (Ensign 2015 April page 80).

What I find interesting about this letter is the encouraging words to sing songs, play instrumental music, discuss family topics, and for the younger children to recite songs, stories and play games. We are encouraged by this letter to “studiously avoid formality and stiffness.”  This is intriguing, because I find that many families feel in doing their duty to have family home evening each week, it ends up a formal occasion.  But the original idea of family home evening is not only do we spend time with each other in discussing spiritual topics and gospel principals but to have fun too.

Teens might be the first to balk at the idea of sitting down for a formal meeting of the family, but if parents remember to have fun with the time set aside, then all family members will look forward to meeting together.

 

family home evening

 

When my family gets together to talk or play a game each week, we feel closer to each other. Thousands of families over the years have found the blessing of family home evening, as parents take time out of their busy schedule each week to sit together and talk. It is a valve for parents to adjust their ideals and teachings to better help their children grow up in the gospel and understand the needs of all family members.

From an earlier Ensign Magazine article, wonderful examples of what family home evening means to many testify of the blessing of parents taking the time with their children. Here is one story:

My First Family Home Evening

When we started investigating the Church a few years ago, some families in the local ward invited us to join them for family home evening. We were unable to attend, but the invitation raised our curiosity, and we asked the missionaries many questions about the program.

 

After we set a baptismal date, we decided we wanted to have a family home evening of our own. We invited the missionaries and the families who had previously extended us the invitation.

 

Even though we really didn’t know what we were doing—we hadn’t attended a family home evening yet and had never read any literature on the subject—we experienced a wonderful, Spirit-filled, educational evening. We opened with a prayer, then sang a song of our choosing—“Old McDonald Had a Farm”! Next we had a lesson, a closing prayer, and dessert. The member families we had invited were so kind and loving, and we were blessed by their fellowship and examples. When we were baptized the following Sunday, a sister in the ward gave us a priceless gift, the Family Home Evening Resource Book (item no. 31106; U.S. $5.00). I pleasantly remember her gift today and sometimes laugh out loud wondering if someone told her we really needed this book! Whatever the case, I’m sure this sister was in tune with the Spirit and knew the growth our family would experience with this tool in our home. We have used it not just for family home evening but also as a resource when we’ve been asked to speak or teach in Church settings or when friends of other faiths have asked us questions.

 

As converts to the Church, we testify that family home evenings have strengthened our family.

 

Jo and Kevin Lucke, Brunswick Second Ward, Kingsland Georgia Stake” (Testimonies of Family Home Evening – Ensign Dec. 2003 – Ensign).

 

 Thomas S. Monson, President of the LDS Church, said it well:

We cannot afford to neglect this heaven-inspired program. It can bring spiritual growth to each member of the family, helping him or her to withstand the temptations which are everywhere. The lessons learned in the home are those that last the longest.

Family home evening has stood the test of time and it works.  It works to help parents grow closer to their children.  It works to help children grow up in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

About Valerie Steimle
Valerie Steimle has been writing as a family advocate for over 25 years. As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she promotes Christian living in her writings and is the mother of nine children and grandmother to twelve. Mrs. Steimle authored six books and is a contributing writer to several online websites. To her, time is the most precious commodity we have and knows we should spend it wisely. To read more of Valerie's work, visit her at her website, The Blessings of Family Life.

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