“Aren’t Monday nights to be reserved exclusively for one’s family?” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 52–53
Rex W. Allred, executive secretary to the Melchizedek Priesthood General Committee. The instructions are quite clear. Monday evenings should be kept free of stake and ward meetings and activities. Many worthwhile family activities can and should be organized by ward or stake organizations, but they should be scheduled on evenings other than Monday.
For many years Church leaders have encouraged parents to gather their families around them in their homes to teach and strengthen them. On 27 April 1915, President Joseph F. Smith and his counselors issued a letter to the members regarding this important responsibility. They said, “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.”
The First Presidency also gave a promise. They stated in that letter “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.”
A more specific program of “teaching and living the gospel in the home” was announced in October 1964 and launched in January 1965 under President David O. McKay’s direction. Formal family home evenings were to be held each week in the homes of the Saints throughout the Church, using printed lessons from a family home evening manual.
Initial instructions to the field did not designate when the weekly family home evenings should be held. However, in 1968, the newly published General Handbook of Instructions stated that “a uniform evening should be set up in each stake, which will be kept free of ward or stake activities.”
The designation of Monday night for family home evening came in September 1970. The Priesthood Bulletin announced that “in a recent meeting the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve approved the setting aside of Monday night for holding family home evening throughout the entire Church. Encouragement is now given to stakes, missions, wards, and branches to reserve Monday evening for family home evening. … Families [should] be left free from Church activities so that they can meet together in family home evening.”
When the consolidated meeting schedule was introduced in 1980, families were told that they would have more time for gospel study and family-oriented spiritual activities on Sunday. Some confusion arose about whether Monday night was still reserved for family home evening. In October 1981—and again in August 1983—President Ezra Taft Benson, then the President of the Council of the Twelve, sent a letter to priesthood leaders confirming that Monday nights should continue to be reserved for family home evening activities.
The instruction in the current edition of the General Handbook of Instructions maintains the same position: Parents are directed to hold a weekly family home evening to teach and strengthen their families. To this end, stake and ward leaders are to keep Monday evenings free of stake and ward meetings and activities.
If parents are faced with repeated violations of this policy, they may want to visit with their bishop or with their stake leaders to express their concern and to ask that consideration be given to correcting the problem.
Most important, of course, is for parents to be faithful in holding their family home evenings and to be as creative as possible in improving the effectiveness of their lessons and activities. In the First Presidency message at the front of the 1973–74 family home evening manual, President Harold B. Lee and his counselors asked these thought-provoking questions: “Do you spend as much time making your family and home successful as you do in pursuing social and professional success? Are you devoting your best creative energy to the most important unit in society—the family; or, is your relationship with your family merely a routine, unrewarding part of life? Parents and children must be willing to put family responsibilities first in order to achieve family exaltation.”
If we sincerely strive to hold regular and effective family home evenings, obedience and faith in the hearts of our children will increase, and they will gain power to combat evil influences and temptations—great blessings indeed.