Many LDS Church members have grown up participating in Family Home Evening (FHE). Then again, many members have not. It is not uncommon to find some disinterested about this practice, especially among BYU students who are placed in Family Home Evening “groups” – implemented by the Church since many students are in that in-between phase where they no longer live at home but have yet to start families of their own.
It’s quite easy – even expected – for us to question the need for something when we don’t fully understand the reason why it was created in the first place. In a small, unobtrusive space in Education in Zion, the history of Family Home Evening is told.
In the dawn of the 20th century, Joseph F. Smith and other leaders saw a problem. Children and teenagers had so many auxiliary church programs dedicated to their spiritual education and welfare that they were receiving more instruction there than they were in their own homes.
Additionally, many parents saw teaching in the home as supplementary to the instruction their families received at Church, instead of the other way around. Sadly, this apathetic mindset is still common today as many LDS parents send their kids off to Young Men/Young Women or Sunday School, considering that to be sufficient for their family’s spiritual instruction.
In an effort to free up more time for parents to spend with their children, President Smith put together a committee charged with reducing the overlap of the Church’s teaching organizations. In 1907 this committee recommended that certain programs be merged (out of which came the Primary program as it functions today) and that all auxiliary organizations of the Church place more emphasis on teaching in the home.
In 1909 a stake president named Frank Taylor (son of President John Taylor) set aside Monday evenings for Home Evening in an effort to follow the Church’s emphasis on strengthening the family.
By the spring of 1915, “Family Home Evening” as it came to be known, had become so successful in that stake that President Smith and the First Presidency officially adopted it church-wide, proclaiming the following:
“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 influence and temptations which beset them.”
So what is the big deal?
For nearly 100 years now, families and prophets have testified again and again of the protection and blessings experienced from participating in Family Home Evening. It represents one of the biggest “deals” of our faith, the deal we made to God to take care of His children as our own – or perhaps in the case of us young adults on campus, the deal we made to bear one another’s burdens and comfort those in need of comfort.
What better opportunity to keep our covenants in extending a loving hand of social and spiritual enlightenment than to attend and participate in Family Home Evening?
- Adam Watson, Communications Major and Education in Zion Gallery Educator