A fireside is an informal get-together for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often inadvertently referred to as the Mormon Church). Despite the name, firesides are not typically held by fires. Firesides that are hosted in someone’s home may include a cozy fire, but many firesides are held at church buildings. For Mormons, the term is thought to be derived from the practice of gathering together around fires at the end of the day during the pioneer trek across the plains. Firesides at any venue garner an atmosphere of warmth and refuge.
Firesides today are most typically held Sunday evenings as a way for church members to socialize in a more casual setting. The firesides always include a speaker, sometimes the bishop (the local congregation leader) and sometimes a specialized speaker. The talks are usually more animated than those given in formal Sunday sacrament meetings. Firesides also include music and prayer. They sometimes take place in someone’s home and for large groups of people will be held in a church building or conference center.
Some firesides include special activities or workshops to better teach gospel principles. Small firesides are often a venue where attendees can participate and contribute in a more intimate setting. Some firesides are sponsored by local wards (congregations) and stakes (administered groups of congregations), and some are put on by individual families (as in the case of a returned missionary eager to share his experiences in a more comprehensive format).
In the spirit of missionary work, members are often encouraged to bring friends to firesides. Firesides are a way for people who are not of the Mormon faith to become more familiar with doctrines and teachings in a more social and casual setting. These meetings are supposed to be uplifting and edifying. The topics usually center on building faith and testimony in Jesus Christ.