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Family Home Evening (FHE) or Family Night, in the context of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, refers to one evening per week, usually Monday, that families are encouraged to spend together in study, prayer and other activities. According to the LDS Church, the purpose of FHE is to help families strengthen bonds of love with each other as well as provide an atmosphere where parents can teach their children principles of the gospel.
For most LDS families, Family Home Evening includes a game or fun activity, treats, and a short lesson. The responsibilities for each are often rotated among family members, so that even the youngest may be assisted in presenting a short lesson or devotional on a given topic. Parents often use this night as an opportunity to teach their children how to prepare talks and lessons, as well as how to conduct meetings. Family business for the week may be addressed and the family schedule reviewed.
In a letter dated April 27, 1915 and distributed to local leaders of the LDS Church, President Joseph F. Smith encouraged a church-wide practice of a weekly "Family Home Evening". The letter described the event as being a time set apart for "prayer ... hymns ... family topics ... and specific instruction on the principles of the gospel."
In 1970, President Joseph Fielding Smith, son of Joseph F. Smith, designated Monday night as the preferred time for Family Home Evening, asking local church units not to hold other church related meetings or activities on that night. That tradition continues today.
In the October 2002 LDS General Conference, LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley encouraged local businesses and organizations to keep Monday night free of activities and other obstructions, so that members might more easily hold the FHE.
The Church's official site provides resources to assist in holding Family Home Evening, including:
Additionally, the site instructs that, "Although family home evening should begin and end with prayer, it is not intended to be a formal class," and quotes the 1915 First Presidency as saying, "formality and stiffness should be studiously avoided, and all the family should participate in the exercises."
The leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have made the following statements concerning Family Home Evening:
Well-planned family home evenings can be a source of long-lasting joy and influence. These evenings are times for group activity, for organizing, for the expressions of love, for the bearing of testimony, for learning gospel principles, for family fun and recreation, and of all things, for family unity and solidarity. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, and N. Eldon Tanner)
Family home evenings should be scheduled once a week as a time for discussions of gospel principles, recreation, work projects, skits, songs around the piano, games, special refreshments, and family prayers. Like iron links in a chain, this practice will bind a family together, in love, pride, tradition, strength, and loyalty. (Ezra Taft Benson)
Monday evenings should be reserved for family home evening. Local leaders should ensure that Church buildings and facilities are closed, that no ward or stake activities are planned for Monday evenings, and that other interruptions to family home evenings be avoided. The primary emphasis of family home evening should be for families to be together to study the gospel. We remind all that the Lord has admonished parents to teach their children the gospel, to pray, and to observe the Sabbath Day. The scriptures are the most important resource for teaching the gospel. (Howard W. Hunter, Gordon B. Hinckley, and Thomas S. Monson)
In places with a high density of single adult members of the LDS Church, local wards or stakes organize Family Home Evening groups that meet together weekly for Family Home Evening. The purpose of these meetings is the same as that of real Family Home Evenings, but groups are composed of peers rather than actual family members. Family Home Evening groups are most common near colleges and universities, including but not limited to LDS universities, such as Brigham Young University.