My dear brethren and sisters, I would like to say something about family home evening this afternoon. As President Kimball addressed the Stockholm Area Conference he pointed out the great need of home teaching and family home evenings to help neutralize the ills of the world. He said: “The spirit of the times is worldliness. Hoodlumism is common. Supposedly good youth from recognized good families express their revolt in destructive acts. Many defy and resist the law-enforcing officers. Respect for authority, secular, religious, and political, seems to be at a low ebb. Immorality, drug addiction, and general moral and spiritual deterioration seem to be increasing, and the world is in turmoil. But in our time the Lord has offered his ageless program in new dress and it gives promise to return the world to sane living, to true family life, family interdependence. It is to return the father to his rightful place at the head of the family, to bring mother home from social life and employment, the children away from unlimited fun and frolic. The home teaching program with its crowning activity, the family home evening will neutralize the ill effects only if people will apply the remedy.” (Ensign, Jan. 1975, pp. 3–4.)
In the October conference of 1964 President David O. McKay reintroduced a family home evening program designed to assist parents in teaching the gospel in the home. Since that time this important program has been emphasized by the Church. Monday evening has been set aside by the entire Church for holding family home evening. A beautiful manual is prepared each year by an expert staff of writers.
Over 907,000 copies of the Family Home Evening Manual are now printed each year—about 830,000 in English and 77,000 in seventeen other languages. They are distributed to forty-eight countries.
In the Family Home Evening Manual of 1973–74 the First Presidency said:
“May we remind you of just how important the family unit is in the overall plan of our Father in heaven. In fact, the Church organization exists to assist the family and its members in reaching exaltation.
“The primary function of a Latter-day Saint home is to ensure that every family member works to create the climate and condition in which all can grow toward perfection. For the parents, this requires a dedication of time and energy far beyond the mere providing of their children’s physical needs. For the children, this means controlling the natural tendency toward selfishness.
“Parents and children must be willing to put family responsibilities first in order to achieve family exaltation.” (p. 4.)
Our family home evening program has received national attention. Many individuals and groups and organizations out of the Church have written for information on the program and requested the manual. To quote just a few:
Immanuel Lutheran Church of Lincoln, Nebraska: “I recently saw a copy of your Family Home Evening Manual. I was deeply impressed with the quality and approach of your program.”
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois: “I have recently seen materials on your family home evening. I would be very interested in obtaining copies of any available materials, especially the Family Home Evening Manuals.”
Oklahoma State Department of Health: “It has been brought to our attention that your Church has initiated a new program emphasizing family interaction called ‘Family Home Evening.’ We think that the major source of health development arises out of positive family life. We would be pleased if you could share with us information about your program.”
Many articles have been written by the national and local press praising our efforts. The late Mr. Louis Cassels of the United Press International wrote the following after visiting a family home evening:
“A child gets his most important religious instruction at home. It is very difficult for Sunday School or any other agency of the church to communicate Christian faith to boys and girls who haven’t been exposed to it through family life.
“All denominations agree on this. One denomination—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—is doing something effective to help families fulfill their key role in the religious nurture of children.
“Every Monday, in some 350,000 Mormon homes around the world, parents and children join in observing ‘Family Home Evening’ …
“The most impressive aspect of a Mormon Family Home Evening, to this outside observer, is the apparently natural, unself-conscious and willing way in which older teen-agers participate …
“LDS President Harold B. Lee is a strong proponent of the home evening concept. He told a group of Mormon leaders recently that ‘the most important of the Lord’s work will be that which we do within our own homes.’
“President Lee says family home evenings not only are an invaluable opportunity for religious instruction. They also serve to unite families, to bridge generation gaps, and to maintain communication between parents and children.
“‘When the home functions properly, much has been done to prevent problems from happening,’ the Mormon president told UPI. ‘So much that we do, both in the world and the church, is done to compensate for failures in the home. We have found the Family Home Evening to be a great assistance to parents in fostering meaningful and close family relationships which help the home serve as a sanctuary from evil influences and as a source of strength to each family member.’”
Numerous mayors of cities and governors of states have recognized the virtue in family solidarity and know of the soundness the family home evening program is bringing about. Many have issued a proclamation declaring a “family unity” week or month. For example:
“WHEREAS, public officials throughout the United States are gravely concerned about the erosion of the family unit and its effect upon society as a whole; and
“WHEREAS, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has originated a Family Home Evening program which has received worldwide recognition, the primary purpose of which is to bring the family back together through a weekly family get-together of fun, relaxation and learning; and
“WHEREAS, good family relationships constitute the primary source of strength in our community:
“NOW, THEREFORE, I, Fred Hofheinz, Mayor of the City of Houston, do hereby proclaim the month of December, as FAMILY UNITY MONTH.”
A copy of another excellent proclamation was received from the governor of Arizona, who recognized the practice of the Church in teaching their children through family home evenings. He commended them in this and recommended such a practice to all inhabitants of his state through this proclamation.
“WHEREAS, the family is the basic and indispensable institution of our society … and
“WHEREAS, we are observing in our nation a breaking up of family life at a rate unprecedented in history, with serious effects and repercussions in many segments of our society, particularly the welfare of children and the weakening of the single greatest strength of America; and
“WHEREAS, there is increasing concern among all thinking Americans over the dissolution of Family Life and the effects such destruction portends for our nation;
“WHEREAS, prominent religious leaders have said; ‘No Success Can Compensate For Failure In the Home’ and ‘The Most Important Work You Will Ever Do Is Within The Walls of Your Own Home;’
“NOW, THEREFORE, I, Jack Williams, Governor of Arizona, do hereby proclaim the week beginning Sunday, June 2, 1974, as FAMILY WEEK and do call upon all serious and right-thinking Americans to reflect upon the meaning of Family Life to themselves, to their children, to their children’s children, and to our great nation. …”
The Church has also received from the Senate of the United States a proclamation from the 93rd Congress, “commending the members … for their spirit of pioneering, for their wholesome living, for their concern for their fellowmen, and for their many achievements.”
President Kimball stated, “These recognitions from government, state, and city leaders who were not members of the Church are most gratifying. They know what creates nations and governments. They know what destroys cities and states and governments. They know that the breaking up of the family is the beginning of the fall of the empire. They know well that the dishonesty, immorality, homes broken through divorce and infidelity, limited family size, and adult preoccupation with entertainment and sex presages a collapse of the government.” (Ensign, Jan. 1975, p. 9.)
I bear you my solemn witness, my brothers and sisters, that this is the work of the Lord, that these Brethren who instituted the family home evening program were greatly inspired. I see as well the great inspiration given to those who prepare the Family Home Evening Manual. I leave this testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.