During general conference of October 2002, President Gordon B. Hinckley stressed the importance of consistent family home evening. “We are fearful that this very important program is fading in too many areas,” he said. “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. … 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” (“To Men of the Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov. 2002, 58).
On these pages, Church members from various circumstances share their testimonies of how family home evening has blessed their lives.
Years ago as we were listening to general conference, it struck us as interesting when Elder LeGrand R. Curtis of the Seventy said, “We have found that the child who is rolling on the floor during family home evening listens and learns more than we think possible” (“Happiness Is Homemade,” Ensign, Nov. 1990, 13).
Several weeks later, our seven-year-old daughter, Brittany, was giving the lesson during home evening. Our three-year-old, Alex, was behind the couch playing with some small toys, and since this was keeping him quiet, we allowed him to stay there.
Brittany began relating a Book of Mormon story. In her nervousness she forgot the name of one of the characters. “Nephi and his brothers went back to Jerusalem,” she said, “to get the brass plates from … um … um …”
“Laban!” said a small voice from behind the couch. We were astonished. Not only were we surprised that Alex was paying enough attention to follow the lesson, but he was familiar enough with the scripture story to supply the forgotten name!
The experience reminded us that we often don’t realize the impact of what we teach in family home evening. Whether they are toddlers “rolling on the floor” or bored-looking teenagers who act like they’d rather be someplace else, what our children are learning is “more than we think possible.”
Jenell Hansen, Kutztown Ward, Reading Pennsylvania Stake
When we started investigating the Church a few years ago, some families in the local ward invited us to join them for family home evening. We were unable to attend, but the invitation raised our curiosity, and we asked the missionaries many questions about the program.
After we set a baptismal date, we decided we wanted to have a family home evening of our own. We invited the missionaries and the families who had previously extended us the invitation.
Even though we really didn’t know what we were doing—we hadn’t attended a family home evening yet and had never read any literature on the subject—we experienced a wonderful, Spirit-filled, educational evening. We opened with a prayer, then sang a song of our choosing—“Old McDonald Had a Farm”! Next we had a lesson, a closing prayer, and dessert. The member families we had invited were so kind and loving, and we were blessed by their fellowship and examples.
When we were baptized the following Sunday, a sister in the ward gave us a priceless gift, the Family Home Evening Resource Book (item no. 31106; U.S. $5.00). I pleasantly remember her gift today and sometimes laugh out loud wondering if someone told her we really needed this book! Whatever the case, I’m sure this sister was in tune with the Spirit and knew the growth our family would experience with this tool in our home. We have used it not just for family home evening but also as a resource when we’ve been asked to speak or teach in Church settings or when friends of other faiths have asked us questions.
As converts to the Church, we testify that family home evenings have strengthened our family.
Jo and Kevin Lucke, Brunswick Second Ward, Kingsland Georgia Stake
After I joined the Church several years ago, my wife and I had a difficult time holding family home evenings. When we married, my wife had a 15-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son, and I wasn’t sure how to approach having home evenings with them. So we just didn’t have them.
Then one Sunday after church our four-year-old asked me why we didn’t have family home evening. Apparently he had learned of its importance in Primary and was anxious to get started. I was put off at first, but when I saw his enthusiasm and desire, I hesitantly told him we’d have one the following evening.
All day long he talked of nothing else. “Isn’t it great that we’re going to have family home evening!” he said over and over. Well, things got busy, time grew short, and we didn’t end up having it that night. I completely underestimated the devastation it would cause our son. He was disappointed and moody for days.
After trying to raise his spirits, only to hear how much he wanted to have a family night, we had a simple gathering with scripture reading, questions, and family prayer the following week. To my amazement, even our four-year-old understood the scriptures we studied and asked intelligent questions about them. Our experience was wonderful.
Today we continue to have home evening each week because, thanks to our son, we have gained a solid testimony of its importance. We now have a third child, and we have seen the fruits of consistent home evenings in the increased closeness and unity of our blended family. I humbly add my testimony that family home evening is one of the integral ways of fulfilling the directives outlined in The Family: A Proclamation to the World. Even if the children don’t fully understand the principle being taught, they do feel the spirit of our family meetings and will grow up knowing we care about them and desire to spend time with them consistently.
E. Torrey Wickman, Puyallup Ward, Puyallup Washington Stake
When our oldest child began school a few years ago, I decided that consistent family home evenings in our home were long overdue and it was time to commit to them. After all, we are responsible for showing our children the way back to our Heavenly Father.
I saw immediate blessings in our home! Our family and individual goals were given so much more emphasis and purpose as each family member was given a voice and as we discussed Heavenly Father’s plan. Although I was surprised at the immediacy of the blessings, I definitely expected them because of the promises of modern-day prophets.
What I did not expect was the effect that family home evening would have on my less-active husband. What a perfect opportunity it has been for him to understand more about the basic doctrine of the Church in a close-knit family setting, where he is more willing to learn and participate.
As we have discussed the blessings and responsibilities of the priesthood as a family, he has warmed up to these principles. A few years ago we had a lesson from the Family Home Evening Resource Book titled “The Priesthood in Our Home.” At that time I was in the ninth month of a pregnancy and very anxious about the delivery. That night my husband gave me the first priesthood blessing he had ever given on his own, a blessing of comfort. Family home evening gave my sweet husband an opportunity to use his priesthood and experience the positive effect it had on me and on our children through his example.
As the Spirit of the Lord permeates our home, I have noticed my husband being more in tune with what is appropriate for our family and what is not. I have seen his mind opened and his heart softened, and I attribute this to our weekly family home evenings. I am thankful for the divine inspiration behind such a promising program.
Giovanna Underwood, Sarasota Ward, Brandon Florida Stake
About 10 years ago, when many of the older adults without children in our ward were having a hard time holding regular home evenings, several of us realized how much it would enrich us to form a home evening group. With the approval of our bishop, two sisters called everyone in the ward that fit this category, and we began meeting Monday nights. We take turns hosting home evening in our homes.
Ranging in age from our 40s to our 70s, we’re about as diverse a group as you can imagine, with a delightful assortment of personalities. Some of us have known each other for years; others are new to our “family.”
We’ve had many spiritual evenings. Some lessons are given from Ensign articles; others are from personal experiences shared by the host member, such as experiences working in the temple, family history research, or missionary service. Other nights we’ve taken turns sharing what membership in the Church means to us, talked about the talents we see in one another, or invited new families in the ward to join us for dinner so we can get to know them.
As a group we also give service once a month, working in the bishops’ storehouse, delivering fruit baskets to nursing homes, or assisting a member of the ward who needs service. In December we decided to give Christmas gifts to ward families in need. We asked the bishop to give us a list of family needs and clothing sizes.
Through the years we’ve continued to invite others without children at home to attend our family home evenings. We now even have two women of other faiths who come! Words cannot express the fellowship and love we have developed for one another. We have stood by each other through joys and sorrows, through life and death. Just as prophets have promised, family home evening is truly an inspired program that blesses all who participate.
Nancy B. Dunton, Greensboro Guilford Ward, Greensboro North Carolina Stake