April 2015 marked 100 years since the First Presidency of the Church first encouraged members to have weekly Family Home Evening. Joseph F. Smith was the prophet at that time. Here are some excerpts from the letter that was sent out in April 1915:
“We advise and urge the inauguration of a “home evening” throughout the Church, at which time fathers and mothers may gather their boys and girls about them in the home and teach them the word of the Lord. They may thus learn more fully the needs and requirements of their families, at the same time familiarizing themselves and their children more thoroughly with the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This home evening should be devoted to prayer, singing hymns, songs, instrumental music, scripture reading, family topics, and specific instruction on the principles of the gospel and on the ethical problems of life, as well as the duties and obligations of children to parents, the home, the Church, society, and the nation. For the smaller children, appropriate recitations, songs, stories, and games may be introduced. Light refreshments of such a nature as may be largely prepared in the home might be served.
Formality and stiffness should be studiously avoided, and all the family should participate in the exercises.”
How can we make our FHE even better?
- Rotate assignments: give the children a chance to do every job
- Opening prayer, song, scripture, lesson, treat, conduct
- Start a FHE journal (inspired by Tiffany): have each family member sign the cover page (and include their age)
- Brainstorm lesson topics
- General Conference talks, Primary lessons, scripture stories, learn a new hymn or primary song, family history, learn a new skill, wholesome recreational activities, learn about a prophet or apostle, scripture heroes, share and memorize a great scripture verse, do a service project, lessons from Church magazines, celebrate holidays or special occasions, prepare for sacred ordinances (baptism, priesthood ordination, temple, etc)…
What are the blessings of FHE?
“If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influences and temptations which beset them” (First Presidency Letter, April 1915).
“We promise you great blessings if you will follow the Lord’s counsel and hold regular family home evenings. We pray constantly that parents in the Church will accept their responsibility to teach and exemplify gospel principles to their children. May God bless you to be diligent in this most important responsibility” (“Message from the First Presidency,” Family Home Evening Resource Book, 1983).
“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” (President Thomas S. Monson, April 2005 General Conference).