Family Newsletters and FHE Journals: Members Share Memorable Family Home Evenings
Contributed By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer
Beginning a century ago, when the idea was introduced into the Church by President Joseph F. Smith, family home evening has characterized the Latter-day Saints as a people. After the program was given renewed emphasis 50 years ago, special resources were provided to facilitate this important practice, and Monday night was set aside Churchwide to be reserved for the holding of family home evening.
It is still a cherished tradition in the Church, as exemplified by many families, such as the Freddy and Mandy Kuhn family of the San Clemente Ward in the San Clemente California Stake, where they enjoy the West Coast sunshine in the time afforded by the change to daylight saving time.
The Kuhns said they don’t “over-structure” their Monday nights; rather, they have a short but meaningful lesson then enjoy lots of games and refreshments.
After the Church News published an article February 3 marking 100 years since the establishment of family home evening and 50 years since the reemphasis of it by President David O. McKay, many readers have responded to an invitation to share their memories and insights about family home evening. Some of these have been featured in weekly follow-up articles in commemoration of April being the month in 1915 when the practice was introduced.
Hereafter, throughout the year, a new series of vignettes will be featured in the Church News called “Family Home Evening Moments.” For now, here are some more contributions that have come in from readers:
Journal reveals blessings from establishing “pattern” of FHE
Roland and Cathy Griffith of Lansing, Kansas, are converts to the Church who joined separately as young adults.
“Now, after almost 34 years of marriage, we look back and can easily recognize the blessings that came to us as a result of our efforts to hold family home evening,” they wrote.
“We were married on April 10, 1981, and held our very first FHE on April 20. We missed our home evening on the 13th, because we were driving from Virginia to Arkansas to report to our first military duty station. The reason we know this is that we began a family home evening journal as newlyweds. Pretty soon, we will begin our fifth FHE journal.”
The Griffiths acknowledge their home evenings have not been perfect.
“Our family joke is that our opening song was ‘Families Can Be Together Forever’ and our closing song was ‘Master, the Tempest Is Raging.’”
With four children born to them within four and a half years, they remember Monday night as the time they looked forward to each week.
“And as those four children grew into teenagers, we can remember thinking of how very grateful we were that we had established a pattern of gathering as a family unit on Monday nights. And now, as an empty-nester couple, we look forward to our special time together as ‘we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ’ (2 Nephi 25:26).”
Newsletter now a rich archive of family history
A suggestion in the family home evening manual gave rise to the Zobell Family Newsletter, which has been published quarterly since 1999.
“My daughter and her cousin helped come up with the title Zobell Gazetteer,” said Ralph Zobell of the Heather Ridge 3rd Ward in Orem, Utah. “We are grateful for the family home evening program providing us the idea for what has turned out to be a rich archive of family history, traditions, and for the way it has helped bind our extended family.”
He realizes the name, which means a map or atlas index, may not strictly apply to the family’s publication, but the name has stuck in any case. “Maybe we were a bit partial to the ring of the ‘Z’ in its title to pair with our family name,” he said.
The newsletter has carried news and photos from extended family members in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming or from those serving on missions throughout the world. And the newsletter has dealt with subjects such as priesthood lines of authority, family poems, Grandpa’s World War II account, Eagle Scouts, family reunions, the passing of family members, ancestors’ conversion stories, and whether the name should be spelled “Zobell” or “ZoBell.”
Holding FHE to save our children
Gay Nell Poulton of Cedar Hills, Utah, recalled the time in the early 1970s when she and her husband, Marvin, were living in the Hahn Branch of the Kaiserslautern Germany Military Stake, where he was an officer in charge of investigations at the U.S. Air Force base there.
“At the time, drug addiction was rampant among many teenagers whose parents were in the military,” she said. “Good and righteous families were torn apart by drug addiction.”
With three small children, the Poultons were worried about how to raise a family amidst the evil in the world. They fasted and prayed to know the answer.
At a stake conference, Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, speaking on a totally different subject, paused at a point in his talk and said, “If you want to save your families, hold family home evening,” Sister Poulton recalled.
That was the answer they sought.
“We held family home evening faithfully after that, even though our family home evenings were not amazing spiritual experiences. Our now nine children are all faithful members of the Church. We will be eternally grateful for that answer to our plea for help.”
FHE becomes a contagious tradition
Edie Smart of the Butler 27th Ward in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, recalled: “In 1968, I had just graduated from high school and had returned to live with my grandmother and my younger brother. Not too long afterward, we received a call from our home teacher. He came over and presented the family home evening program to the three of us and told us if we faithfully held family home evening our family would be blessed. So, from that day on, my grandmother, a convert to the Church from France, made sure we had FHE. When my husband and I got married in 1971, we continued to hold FHE. Now, five of our six children have moved out and continue to hold FHE in their homes, and we continue to do the same. It has been a blessing in our lives, and hopefully we have instilled in our children that same testimony.”