Shining Moment: “The Grand Adventure”

Contributed By Flora Benson Parker McConkie, Church News contributor

  • 22 November 2016

Flora McConkie shares her experience while helping with the open house and dedication of the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple.

Article Highlights

  • Being the Wilmington Delaware Stake director of public affairs became an adventure.
  • Sister McConkie invited a News Journal reporter to a temple open house.
  • After losing touch with him, she relocated him and took him on a two­-hour tour.

Twelve years ago, our family moved to Delaware. About a year later, I was called to serve as the Wilmington Delaware Stake director of public affairs. Little did I know the grand adventure that it would become!

Eleven years later, I continue to serve in public affairs, with the specific assignment for handling media for the Greater Philadelphia area and events associated with the opening of the Philadelphia Pennsylvania Temple. For perspective on that time frame, I have served in public affairs through two Church Presidents, five mission presidents, three Area Seventies, three stake presidents, and four bishops. And I have had a front row seat to the development of public affairs here. … I am forever grateful for the experience.

The first invitation I extended to the Philadelphia Temple open house was eight years ago ­­as I was being interviewed by a News Journal reporter (Delaware's largest newspaper) just after the announcement of our temple. As we concluded our conversation, I told him I hoped to accompany him on a tour of the temple when it was completed.

The years passed, and he left the News Journal. For a few years, I was aware of where he was working in the area, but as the open house dates were announced, I realized he had moved on and I had no way of contacting him. Pondering on this predicament, and with the open house rapidly approaching, it occurred to me that perhaps a member of the interfaith council on which I serve might still be in touch with him. Who should I ask?

Almost immediately, I felt to contact the Catholic nun on the interfaith council. I knew they had both worked for a local charitable organization, but neither were currently employed there. As we spoke, I learned that she too had lost touch with him.

“However,” she said, “he is in an adult education class I have just started teaching. I’ll tell him about your call and will get his contact information for you.” He was invited, and a highlight of the open house experience for me was accompanying him and his girlfriend on a personal, two­-hour tour led by Elder Milan Kunz, an Area Seventy.

In my comings and goings during the open house, I would often ask visitors on the elevator how they had heard about the open house. Often, the answer was “on TV” or “from the newspaper.” To me, this was a fulfillment of my setting apart blessing, and I thank the Lord for the opportunity to serve in this capacity!