David O. McKay, a young returned missionary, college graduate, and professional educator, had a profound impact on the development of the Sunday School during the first part of the twentieth century. He was called to be a member of the Weber Stake Sunday School superintendency in Ogden and was asked to give particular attention to the instruction being taught. After some observation, he introduced some refinements in the teaching methods being used, such as defining the lesson goals, outlining the materials, using teaching aids, and making practical application of the lessons to daily life. A specific course for each age group was developed to be used throughout the stake. In 1906, David O. McKay was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and was also called as a member of the general Sunday School superintendency. In this position he was able to promote similar improvements throughout the Church. Before 1906 the Sunday School had been essentially an organization for children and youth. In that year, however, the first class for adults, the “parents’ class,” was inaugurated Churchwide. 4
4. See James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976), p. 461.
In 1903, President Smith emphasized that the other programs of the Church should be “supplements to our teachings and training in the home. Not one child in a hundred would go astray, if the home environment, example, and training, were in harmony with the truth in the Gospel of Christ,” he promised. 9 In 1909 the Granite Stake in Salt Lake City inaugurated a weekly home evening program for families, and President Joseph F. Smith declared that the stake presidency’s action was inspired. Following the success of this stake program, the First Presidency recommended in 1915 that a similar activity be adopted monthly and used Churchwide:
“We advise and urge the inauguration of a ‘Home Evening’ throughout the Church, at which time fathers and mothers may gather their boys and girls about them in the home and teach them the word of the Lord. They may thus learn more fully the needs and requirements of their families. . . .
“If the Saints obey this counsel, we promise that great blessings will result. Love at home and obedience to parents will increase. Faith will be developed in the hearts of the youth of Israel, and they will gain power to combat the evil influence and temptations which beset them.” 10
10. In James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965–75), 4:338–39.