“Home Evening Blesses Families for 90 Years,” Liahona, July 2005, N1–N3
Ninety years ago, President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) and his counselors in the First Presidency announced the commencement of the family home evening program. Since that time, the program has become an institution in Latter-day Saint households around the world, blessing families in countless ways.
A Good Monday Night Model
It was Monday night, and seven-year-old María Fernanda Fernández of the Loma Nueve Ward, San Miguelito Panamá Stake, was in charge of her family’s home evening. María Fernanda (Marifer to her friends and family) had chosen the topic of prayer.
After leading the singing and asking her two-year-old brother, Roberto, to say the prayer with a little help from their mother, Marifer told a story her mother had helped her memorize from the Family Home Evening Resource Book, using pictures from the Gospel Art Picture Kit. Then she related a personal experience: “At the beginning of the school year, a classmate always fought with me. One day, I went to the bathroom crying after a fight and prayed that she wouldn’t fight with me anymore.”
Marifer said after that prayer, their relationship changed. “We invited her to my house and gave her mom a couple of issues of the Liahona. My friend liked them so much that she asked for more.” Marifer said she and her friend have talked a lot about the Church.
She ended with her testimony: “I know that Jesus Christ lives, that the Book of Mormon and the Bible are true, and that Jesus lived and died for us.”
Her mother, Marisol, and her father, Luis, bishop of the Loma Nueve Ward, shared their testimonies about prayer as well. Then Bishop Fernández offered the closing prayer, and it was time for treats.
Family Night Blessings
President Gordon B. Hinckley, who was a young boy when family home evening was instituted, has said that although it was a struggle at times, his parents always held family home evening and he and many others were blessed for their diligence.
“I see the fruits of it in my own family and in the families of my grandchildren and in the families of my great-grandchildren,” he said. “The principle of family solidarity carries with it a conviction of its truth” (“Words of the Living Prophet,” Liahona, Apr. 1999, 18).
In order to receive the blessings promised to those who hold family home evenings, it is important to realize that these blessings are reserved not only for couples with children, but for all members of the Church.
President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, said love will abound in any home that has family home evening, regardless of how many people live there. “One of the most important ways to foster unity in the home is holding family home evening regularly,” he said. “Whether we are young or old, single or married, whether we have children at home or have become empty nesters, family home evening can increase unity and love in our homes. Family home evening is for everyone” (“Enriching Our Lives through Family Home Evening,” Liahona and Ensign, June 2003, 3).
To help members have more meaningful family home evenings, the Church offers many resources that can help families have uplifting experiences. Along with the Family Home Evening Resource Book (item no. 31106), the Gospel Art Picture Kit (item no. 34730) is also available. This can be particularly useful with young children. Online resources are also now available that give tips and suggestions on how to make the evening special (see sidebar).
Families are encouraged to plan family home evening together. If all members of the family have a responsibility for family home evening, each person can feel that he or she is contributing to the success of the gathering.
Together Again on Monday Night
It was Monday again, and the Veras family of the Gazcue Ward, Santo Domingo Dominican Republic Stake, was learning about the importance of listening to the prophet. Eight-year-old Shantalle led the singing. Four-year-old Yeraly helped her mother, Awilda, tell the story of Noah and the ark. Aaliya, two, was content sitting with her father, Nelson, as he bore testimony of President Gordon B. Hinckley.
Brother Veras’s rendition of “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” sent the three girls into peals of laughter. A prayer followed, then treats.
Family home evening had turned the Veras family’s cramped downtown Santo Domingo apartment into a peaceful haven five stories above the busy street. “I love being with my family,” Shantalle says of family night.
Family Home Evening Help Online
Recently, in an effort to help families plan more meaningful family home evenings, the Church added a link to its Web site that gives families hundreds of ideas for lessons, activities, games, and topics of conversation.
Ideas listed on the Church’s Home and Family site (www.lds.org/hf) are taken from the Family Home Evening Resource Book, Church magazines, and various other sources. While the site has been operational for about two years, additions and changes are constantly being made to allow even those who use the site often an opportunity to come across new material.
Prophets and apostles have stressed the importance of family home evening since it was instituted. In a letter dated February 11, 1999, the First Presidency counseled members on the importance of the responsibilities of parents and family in the home.
“The home is the basis of a righteous life, and no other instrumentality can take its place or fulfill its essential functions in carrying forward this God-given responsibility,” the statement said. “We counsel parents and children to give highest priority to family prayer, family home evening, gospel study and instruction, and wholesome family activities” (see Liahona, Dec. 1999, 1).
In order to encourage these activities, the Web site includes tips that can help families with varying circumstances understand the best ways to make family home evenings memorable. The site includes tips on how to involve teenagers in family home evening, keep the attention of younger family members, and create your own lessons.
While the site is currently only in English, plans are being made to broaden the number of languages available to aid more members.