A Mormon Easter Sermon, Again

Very nearly exactly 30 years ago, on the Saturday morning before Easter, April 6, 1985, a sermon, just like those which will begin a half-hour from now, was given during the first session of general conference. Except that it wasn’t “just like” any other sermon given that day–and, I strongly suspect, won’t be like any of those who read this are likely to hear this morning, or through all conference. The sermon I’m talking about is Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s final general conference address, “The Purifying Power of Gethsemane”, given on that Holy Saturday. He’d come from the hospital, where was dying of cancer, to the old Tabernacle to give this sermon; he passed away 13 days later. Whoever may or may not speak this morning, trust me: they will almost certainly not have anything as important, or as appropriate, to say this Eastertide as Elder McConkie did, thirty years ago. I remember watching it, long ago, and it moved me. Though I struggle with McConkie’s influence on the church and his Christian theology and interpretation of scripture, I cannot deny: it moves me still.


  1. “Though I struggle with McConkie’s influence on the church and his Christian theology and interpretation of scripture, I cannot deny: it moves me still.”


  2. Although I surely heard this talk as a toddler (I was two years old when he delivered this sermon), I did not know of it until I was on my mission and a friend shared it with me. The message resonated with me then and it resonates with me now. Thank you for reminding us of this message.

  3. DeepThink says:

    And then there’s this: His son’s account of how Elder McConkie prepared for that talk, sick as he was.

    His wife recounts: “Dad came into the kitchen and said, “Would you like to hear what I have prepared for general conference?” I was making him a pie, because his appetite had begun to go downhill, and I thought maybe he’d like an apple pie. I had the apples all ready to put in it, and I was rolling up the dough, the oven was on, everything was ready, and he came in and sat down and started to read me his talk and the tears streamed down his face. He didn’t get more than a couple of sentences out and I thought to myself, “You don’t make apple pies when somebody is saying these things to you.” So I sat down, dropped everything, and listened to him. I asked him, “How are you going to be able to get up and read this?” Because there he was, having a hard time saying what he was saying because he was so touched. And he said, “I don’t know, but I’m going to do it.”

    More here: http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/volume-8-number-2-2007/bruce-r-mcconkie-s-final-testimony

  4. Jason K. says:

    Powerful, DeepThink.

  5. So true. I have some of the same difficulties with how we (ab)use BRM quotes at church, but my memories of watching and hearing that talk (I was 11 at the time) stay with me. It convinces me that our real, down to the bone experiences with the atonement is what will really matter to us and to others in the end.

  6. Lady Kerri says:

    I had been driving home from BYU the day this talk was given, so didn’t see it till later. I had seen elder McConkie address at a fireside that January, and was still fairly well swooning. A couple days later, a frien recounted this talk to me, and I was overwhelmed. Especially when he died 3 days later, I was devastated. McConkie was a real, and difficult, hardliner. But his testimony of the Savior continues to resonate with me.

  7. Lady Kerri says:

    Several days later,not 3. Urg.

  8. Mr. Tracy M. says:

    I was in the Tabernacle for this address. It remains one of the most powerful conference experiences I have ever had.