One of my fondest memories of being a Young Adult member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was attending firesides with friends. A fireside is a “meeting in which members gather for religious instruction outside of regular Sunday meetings. Firesides generally focus on a particular group or topic, such as youth, or missionary work.” (mormon.org) As a life long member of the Church, I attended many other firesides, including many that were put on by the different groups in our own Ward (local Mormon Church).
The purpose of any fireside is to motivate and to inspire. This message may be delivered through music, through a skit or a play, or through talks and speeches. Musical firesides were always my favorite but I’ve learned something from every single fireside I’ve attended. Firesides are usually held on a Sunday evening but they can also be held during the week. They can be held in a Mormon chapel, in an auditorium or even outdoors.
As young adults we used to say that a fireside is the place to go if you want to be fed spiritually and physically. When asked about firesides, Jayne B. Malan, who served as the First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency from 1987 to 1992 offered this explanation:
Firesides provide opportunities for Church members to gather and be instructed and edified. Through attending these firesides, we experience the strength of shared Church membership and receive the messages the Lord would have us receive. Satellite broadcasts from Church headquarters are particularly helpful. Through the miracle of modern technology, we can see and hear our prophets and general Church leaders and feel the Spirit as they address us. Satellite broadcasts can be a time of renewal, of spiritual nourishment, and of gaining new insight and perspective. They can strengthen our testimonies and help us find peace in this complicated world. For these reasons, it is beneficial for members to seek ways to attend Church firesides.
I have to admit that as young adult I didn’t always make wise decisions. After all, most young adults are away from parents for the first time and are making their own decisions such as whether to go to Church on Sunday or to sleep in, and whether to go to a Fireside later in the evening or watch a favorite movie on TV. I’m so grateful that I did make the effort to attend as many of these firesides as possible whenever they were offered in our college community. The lessons that I learned from these meetings have been some of the most helpful ones in my life as a young adult, a woman, and as a mother.
Firesides continue to inspire each generation of young adults to make the kinds of choices that are pleasing unto God. Our oldest son is now a young single adult and away in college. As his mother, there is no other place I would like for him to be on a Sunday evening than attending a fireside that honors God and brings him closer to his Savior. Of course, we understand that each of us is free to make our own choices. Still as a mother I am comforted by the knowledge that our children are given every opportunity to make good choices.
When it comes to making choices, Mormons believe that we all have Agency. Agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for ourselves. Agency is essential in the plan of salvation. Without it, we would not be able to learn or progress or follow the Savior. In 2 Nephi 2:27 we read:
Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
We may not all live in an area where we can attend firesides regularly but we can still participate in many firesides via the Internet. The Church Educational System (CES) schedules several firesides throughout each year. In fact, there is one coming up on January 13 at 6:00 p.m. MST. These firesides are usually broadcast live over the Church satellite system. A live video stream of the broadcast will also be available at www.byu.tv. An audio stream is also available in English and 32 other languages. But it doesn’t end there. Previous CES Firesides for Young Adults are available in the Archives.
Firesides sponsored by Mormon groups are a wonderful way to learn more about our Mormon Religion. Because they are more informal than regular Church meetings, they offer a nonthreatening way to discover what the Mormon Religion is about. If you have questions about the Mormon Church but have been reluctant to attend Church services, I invite you to attend a Fireside in your area.
You can check with the local LDS Ward to see if they have one scheduled soon or know of one in your area. You can easily locate the nearest Ward using the Meetinghouse Locator. BYU athletic teams also hold firesides in the various cities they play prior to a game. They are free and are open to everyone. Check the BYU Athletics page for a schedule of upcoming firesides.