Family Home Evening
March 2003

“Family Home Evening,” Ensign, Mar. 2003, 2–5

First Presidency Message

Family Home Evening

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“What is the great strength of [this] Church? … It is the emphasis which we place on families. … Keep your families close together and love and honor your children” (meeting, Reykjavík, Iceland, 11 Sept. 2002).

One Evening a Week—Monday Night

“We have a family home evening program once a week [Monday night] across the Church in which parents sit down with their children. They study the scriptures. They talk about family problems. They plan family activities and things of that kind. I don’t hesitate to say if every family in the world practiced that one thing, you’d see a very great difference in the solidarity of the families of the world” (interview, Boston Globe, 14 Aug. 2000).

“[The Lord] expects us to have family home evening—one night a week to gather our children together and teach them the gospel. Isaiah said, ‘And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord.’ That is the commandment: ‘All thy children shall be taught of the Lord.’ And the blessing: ‘And great,’ he said, ‘shall be the peace of thy children’ [Isa. 54:13]” (meeting, Nouméa, New Caledonia, 17 June 2000).

Childhood Recollections

“In 1915 President Joseph F. Smith asked the people of the Church to have family home evening. My father said we would do so, that we would warm up the parlor where Mother’s grand piano stood and do what the President of the Church had asked.

“We were miserable performers as children. We could do all kinds of things together while playing, but for one of us to try to sing a solo before the others was like asking ice cream to stay hard on the kitchen stove. In the beginning, we would laugh and make cute remarks about one another’s performance. But our parents persisted. We sang together. We prayed together. We listened quietly while Mother read Bible and Book of Mormon stories. Father told us stories out of his memory. …

“Out of those simple little meetings, held in the parlor of our old home, came something indescribable and wonderful. Our love for our parents was strengthened. Our love for brothers and sisters was enhanced. Our love for the Lord was increased. An appreciation for simple goodness grew in our hearts. These wonderful things came about because our parents followed the counsel of the President of the Church” (“Some Lessons I Learned as a Boy,” Ensign, May 1993, 54).

Sense of Prioritizing

“You have to establish in your life some sense of prioritizing things, of giving emphasis to the important things and of laying aside the unimportant things that will lead to nothing. Establish a sense of justice, a sense of what is good and what is not good, what is important and is not important; and that can become a marvelous and wonderful blessing in your lives” (devotional, Utah Salt Lake City Mission, 15 Dec. 2001).

A Sacred Time for Family

“I wish to mention … family home evening. We are fearful that this very important program is fading in too many areas. Brethren, there is nothing more important than your families. You know that. This program was begun back in 1915, 87 years ago, when President Joseph F. Smith urged the Latter-day Saints to set aside one evening a week devoted specifically to the family. It was to be a time of teaching, of reading the scriptures, of cultivating talents, of discussing family matters. It was not to be a time to attend athletic events or anything of the kind. Of course, if there is family activity of such a kind occasionally, that may be all right. But in the increasingly frantic rush of our lives it is so important that fathers and mothers sit down with their children, pray together, instruct them in the ways of the Lord, consider their family problems, and let the children express their talents. I am satisfied that this program came under the revelations of the Lord in response to a need among the families of the Church.

“If there was a need 87 years ago, that need is certainly much greater today.

“The decision was made that Monday evening would be devoted to this family activity. In those areas where there are large numbers of Church members, school officials and others honored the program and did not schedule events on that evening.

“Now there appears to be a growing tendency to schedule other events on Monday night. We respectfully request that our public school officials and others let us have this one evening a week to carry forward this important and traditional program. We ask that they not schedule events that will require the time of children on Monday evenings. We are confident that they will realize that it is most important that families have the opportunity, at least once a week, to be together without conflicting loyalties. We shall be grateful indeed if they will cooperate in this matter. And we urge, in the strongest terms possible, that fathers and mothers regard most seriously this opportunity and challenge to make of Monday evening a time sacred to the family.

“I have received not a few invitations to participate in community Monday gatherings of one kind or another. I have uniformly turned down these invitations with appreciation, but with the explanation that I have reserved Monday as family home evening time. I earnestly hope that each of you will do the same” (“To Men of the Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 58).

Wholesome Family Life

“If we live the gospel, people will come into the Church. They will see the virtue of our lives, and they will be attracted to the message we have to teach. That message places great emphasis on the family. The family becomes a very important thing in our teaching and in our practice. We believe that the family is the basic unit of society. You can’t have a strong community without strong families. You can’t have a strong nation without strong families—the father, the mother, the children as one unit working together. Now the family is falling apart all over America, all over the world. If we can just cultivate good, wholesome family life among our members, I don’t worry very much about the future of this Church” (interview with Ignacio Carrión, El País [Mexico], 7 Nov. 1997).

Letter from the First Presidency

First Presidency

October 4, 1999

To: Members of the Church throughout the World

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Monday nights are reserved throughout the Church for family home evenings. We encourage members to set aside this time to strengthen family ties and teach the gospel in their homes.

Earlier this year we called on parents to devote their best efforts to the teaching and rearing of their children in gospel principles which will keep them close to the Church. We also counseled parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities.

We urge members, where possible, to avoid holding receptions or other similar activities on Monday evenings. Where practical, members may also want to encourage community and school leaders to avoid scheduling activities on Monday evenings that require children or parents to be away from their homes.

Church buildings and facilities should be closed on Monday evenings. No ward or stake activities should be planned, and other interruptions to family home evenings should be avoided.

Sincerely yours,

Gordon B. Hinckley

Thomas S. Monson

James E. Faust

Ideas for Home Teachers

After you prayerfully prepare, share this message using a method that encourages the participation of those you teach. A few examples follow:

  1. Show page 2 (without showing page 3), and ask family members what they think this message is about. Make a list of the activities that could conflict with Monday night home evenings. Read together a few of President Hinckley’s statements and the First Presidency letter. Bear your testimony of the blessings of holding weekly family home evening.

  2. Read aloud “Sense of Prioritizing.” As family members take turns reading from this message, ask them to tell why they think President Hinckley is emphasizing this topic. Tell why these ideas are important to you, and invite family members to do the same.

Background photograph by Bradley Slade; inset photographs by Matthew Reier and Steve Bunderson, posed by models

President and Sister Hinckley frequently enjoy family time with their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. (Photograph by Craig Dimond.)