Elder McKay Bergeson – missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – died in a hit and run collision in LaFayette, Ga. on Saturday, May 16, 2019. He was 19 years old, from Bountiful, Utah. He was serving a two-year mission in the Tennessee Knoxville Mission, which includes the greater Chattanooga area. He had been on his mission since December 2019.
Like all missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Bergeson was a volunteer. He was not paid for his services. He served based on his desire to share the good news and glad tidings of Jesus Christ. Since Adam, the Lord has called upon authorized representatives to preach His gospel message to all parts of the world. Since the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith, over “one million [Latter-day Saint] missionaries have been called and sent forth” – at their own expense – to testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God – the Savior of the world (see Gospel Principles, Chapter 33). Elder Bergeson was part of this holy work.
Elder Bergeson postponed college, dating and any and all other social activities out of loyalty to The Lord. He gave it all up to proclaim “the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God” (D&C 138:57) because the greatest story ever told is that God appointed and anointed a Savior who is Christ the Lord.” Only through and by Christ can we live again and be freed from the burdens of our sins.
As President Russell M. Nelson explains, Jesus Christ provides to each individual “the unconditional gift of resurrection after death.” He also provides the conditional gift [of eternal life] – based on obedience to essential ordinances and covenants – which makes it possible for families to be forever with God. “Goodness alone is not sufficient to qualify for God’s greatest blessings for His sons and daughters,” President Nelson states. “Priesthood ordinances are required” (Church News, June 26, 2018).
This is what Elder Bergeson was teaching. As a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he was teaching the doctrine of Christ. Of His missionaries, The Lord says, “Ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you” (D&C 62:3).
Missionaries do not choose where they serve but they go where they are called. Elder Bergeson was called to the greater Chattanooga area. He loved the people of Tennessee and Georgia. His love continues, just as his life continues on the other side of the veil. Through scripture we know that faithful missionaries, “when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors…among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead” (D&C 138:57). This is what Elder Bergeson is doing now.
While untold numbers of friends and family, including members of The Chattanooga Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, mourn Elder Bergeson’s passing, we also rejoice in knowing that because of Jesus Christ we will meet again. Until then, we commend Elder Bergeson for his service to God and fellowman – and wish him Godspeed in his new assignment.