Today’s post is by Wade Nelson. I hope this doesn’t come across as a slam on Elder McConkie. While I disagree with many of his teachings and writings, I respect him for his devotion, integrity, and commitment. What follows is an anecdote from my family history that exemplifies how that devotion and commitment became action.
My mother joined the Church in Australia in the early 1950’s. She was no longer welcome in the family home so she moved out and emigrated to Utah where she was promptly deported to Canada.
Over the following decade most of her family joined the Church, all except for her father and a sister. My Grandfather was a communist all his life and a virulent anti-American.
His opposition to the Church was mainly ideological as being a member of a Yankee Church was more than he could take. When Elder McConkie arrived there to preside over the mission, post Mormon Doctrine I, my grandfather became someone he was determined to baptize if not convert.
They held a large meeting the kind of which many of us may have attended. Talks are given, the spirit is prayed for, and a general to invitation to join extended. At the conclusion of the meeting, Elder McConkie headed straight for my grandfather. He stood in front of him and asked him to join. When my grandfather declined, Elder McConkie grabbed him by the back of his jacket, lifted him out of his seat, and headed for the baptismal font literally carrying or dragging my grandfather.
As they “walked” there, he kept asking him, what size of shirt do you wear? My grandfather did not reply at first as he was too busy yelling “Get your bloody Yankee hands off me!
The Yankee never did let go. When they arrived at the changing room. Elder McConkie vehemently asked him one last time what size of shirt he wore. My Grandfather meekly and finally said “size 16” and at that, all resistance fled. They met many times over the years after the entire family moved to Canada. A large signed portrait of Elder McConkie and his wife held pride of place in my grandparents’ home until they passed away.