When Spencer Condie was a teenager, he had an image problem. An aspiring athlete who had two cousins on the University of Utah basketball team, he realized early on, “I wasn’t destined for greatness in that sport.”
Deciding what should become number one in his life, however, was a different matter. “If you seek first the kingdom of God instead of just putting the gospel in your top ten, you can then study almost any field or be employed in almost any area and still remain faithful in the kingdom.”
Elder Spencer J. Condie, newly sustained member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, has studied many fields, has worked in many areas, and has managed to keep his commitment to the gospel his top priority.
Born on 27 August 1940 in Preston, Idaho, to Spencer C. Condie and Josie Peterson Condie, Spencer Joel Condie received his patriarchal blessing shortly after his ninth birthday. “I was too young to appreciate or even understand it at the time,” he recalls of the experience, “but it gave me direction that helped me decide what’s important in life.”
The opportunity to serve as a stake missionary at seventeen further directed Elder Condie’s priorities. He went on to serve in the Southern Germany Mission, from 1960 to 1963, where he became acquainted with Sister Dorthea Speth, a native missionary from Dresden, Germany. They married one and a half years after Elder Condie returned from Germany, a decision he calls, “the wisest I’ve made. She has been the driving force behind our family, and to this day I am in spiritual awe of her.”
Elder Condie also attributes to his wife’s influence his ability to put the gospel first during the following years of academic study that took him from Brigham Young University to the University of Pittsburgh for a doctorate in medical sociology, and finally back to BYU in 1969 as a professor of sociology and ancient scripture. He has been honored as Honors Professor of the Year and as a recipient of the Karl G. Maeser Distinguished Teaching Award.
“I guess one experience that typifies my wife’s example to me occurred during those early years,” he explains. “One night I came home at 1:00 A.M. exhausted from working on my dissertation, fell into bed, and felt a distinct thump on my chest. ‘You forgot to say your prayers,’ she said.”
Elder Condie’s Church service throughout his schooling and career included work as a Young Men president, as a bishop and a stake president, and, from 1984 to 1987, as president of the Austrian mission that included Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Greece. Upon his return in 1987, Elder Condie was called to be a Regional Representative.
Elder and Sister Condie are the parents of five children, who were raised in a home “with many books and no videocassette recorder.” The oldest is Brigitte (Mrs. David Madrian), followed by Stefanie, identical twins Heidi and Christel, and the youngest, Craig.
Elder Condie explains his philosophy about families: “The gospel must be number one and used in its fulness: scripture study, family home evening, father’s blessings—the whole recipe. Some families leave out certain ingredients and then wonder why they get chocolate chip cookies without the chips.”
Elder Condie often tells his students, “The gospel isn’t just true, it’s vitally important!” His life of service constantly focuses on that importance, and he has an optimism that stems from an awareness of what changes the gospel can bring about:
“We saw in the Eastern European countries, especially in Hungary, the Red Sea virtually part to let the missionaries in. I know from experiences I’ve had, especially within the last five years, that Jesus is the Christ and that God has not ceased to be a God of miracles.”