"If we expect the Lord's Church to work, then we have to work," said Elder
J. Devn Cornish, of the Seventy. "We don't belong to the Church, we are the Church."
Sustained in general conference on April 2, 2011, Elder Cornish and his wife were
excited for the opportunity to consecrate their lives - full time - to serving the Lord.
As a youth, Elder Cornish learned from his parents' example what it takes to be
a member of the Church. Whether it was his mother's constant example of doing the little things - family
home evening, fasting, paying tithing or attending Church - or his father's unwavering faith and
willingness to serve, those examples early in Elder Cornish's life set the pattern for his life to
"The hallmark of our parents is that they were good people who lived the gospel
programs fully because they just knew that is what you should do," he said. "They came from humble
settings, and early on had made a decision that they would live the gospel fully just because that is
what they wanted in their hearts. Their faith never, in all of their lives, wavered in any sense."
He remembered traveling with his father one Sunday afternoon after they had
attended a ward conference in an area on a far border of their stake boundary in Georgia. They drove
down a dirt road for a time, and then turned off onto a smaller dirt road and kept driving. Finally,
the sight of a run-down home was in the distance.
"We knocked and knocked on the door until a little voice way in the back said,
'Go away!'?" Elder Cornish remembers. "Finally, after some period of silence the door opened, and a
voice said, 'Who are you and what do you want?'?"
His father answered that he was from the Church, that he had heard about the
older woman at ward conference and he felt inspired to drop by her home. It was a cold day and quickly
they saw that she didn't have any wood in her stove and virtually no food in her cupboards. No one was
aware of her circumstances.
"We didn't leave before she had wood for her stove and food, and someone was
going to follow up on her," Elder Cornish said. "That is how my dad did things all the time. He showed
up in somebody's life and helped them."
It was his parents' great devotion to the gospel that first showed Elder Cornish
how to be a faithful member of the Church.
"For some miraculous reasons, my father got it from the outset," Elder Cornish
said. "My father understood the meaning and importance of the restored gospel, and from the minute my
father was baptized (at age 18), he was absolutely faithful the rest of his life."
Elder Cornish carried that faith instilled in him at a young age as he moved from
Georgia to Utah to attend BYU as a David O. McKay scholar, and then as he
accepted a call to serve in the Guatemala/El Salvador Mission.
After completing his mission he returned to
BYU, where he moved into the same stake as Elaine Simmons.
"We met in the young adult program," Sister Cornish said. "I was living at home, had graduated from BYU and was teaching school, and he moved into our stake."
Through interacting in young single adult activities, they began dating and were
married in the Manti Utah Temple on Aug. 9, 1973.
Elder Cornish had been home from his mission and enrolled at BYU only for a year
when he was accepted into an early admissions program at Johns Hopkins Medical School. A handful of
days after their marriage, he and his bride packed up their things and headed to Baltimore, Md., where
he eventually earned a joint bachelor and medical degree.
"I married this very fine lady - who is also a BYU graduate - and moved her
shortly after our marriage from Provo to Baltimore, where she took on a teaching assignment in a
difficult school. It took a lot of courage. . The Lord's hand was in this. The pieces came together.
The hand of the Lord was so tangible - we were so blessed," Elder Cornish said.
During their time in medical school, life was busy with Church callings and
responsibilities, but it was also a good time, Elder and Sister Cornish said.
"By the time we finished medical school, we had three kids," Elder Cornish said.
"In our residency in Boston, we had two more, and when we finished my training in neonatology (newborn
intensive care), we had our sixth."
In addition to his training at Johns Hopkins, Elder Cornish spent time serving in
the Air Force and two years "on loan" to the Army. It was during these years Elder Cornish began his
work in newborn intensive care, where he was able to be part in the early developments of technology
that would help more high-risk babies live with a specialized heart-lung machine.
Although his career has made heavy demands on his time over the years, Elder
Cornish said that it is through seeking the Lord's help to find balance that he was able to accomplish
the most important tasks of raising a family, his career and serving in the Church.
"I remember a time when I thought to myself, 'How can I do all of this? Which of
these things is most important?'?" he said. "The answers are clear and miraculous. Consecration means
we commit all of our time and resources to the Lord. There is always enough time to get done what the
Lord wants. The Lord is in charge, and we can do challenging things, as He gives us direction, play by
play, minute by minute. The Lord will micromanage our life, if we will let Him."
With a call to the Seventy, Elder and Sister Cornish look at his new assignment to
serve in the Caribbean Area Presidency - a place they know well after presiding over the Dominican
Republic Santiago Mission - as another opportunity to consecrate their lives to doing the Lord's work.
"I knew from the moment I met him, before we got married, that I was going to have
to share him with the Lord," Sister Cornish said.