Kevin Meik stood in the back of the church, unsure if he wanted to stay.
The 58-year-old man had left religion when he was 16; he had married a girl who wasn’t Mormon. They had children, he became a cop, he retired, and in all that time he had never stepped again into an LDS meetinghouse on Sunday.
That is, until his heart was going to kill him. Four years ago, under the shadow of death, Meik went to church for the first time in 42 years.
Two months ago, someone shot and killed him in his Sandy home; the police still do not know who did it. But before he died, Meik saved a church, a soldier and — as far as his peers are concerned — his soul.
“I call it the Miracle of Kevin Meik,” said Wayne Hull, a high priest in Salt Lake City’s Emerson LDS Ward.
Leaders in Hull’s ward, a group of eight men, felt they were going through the motions and had lost a sense of purpose. And that was when, stepping out of a meeting, Hull saw Meik standing in the back.
“He’s standing there wondering, ‘Do I really want to do this?’ ” Hull said. “I said Kevin, ‘Why don’t you come in and be with us.’ ”
Meik sat down in a meeting with the church higher-ups and his face had turned bright red.
“I asked him, ‘Kevin, are you OK?’ ” Hull said. “He said, ‘I have to have a heart procedure, and there’s a good chance I won’t be alive next Sunday.’ ”
So the leaders gathered around Meik, placed their hands on him and blessed him. Not only did Meik survive with new stents in his heart, Hull said, but he also came back to church. His heart troubled him again, and they blessed him again, and so on, for weeks. There was a strong chance that each time Meik needed another procedure, he would not survive it, Hull said.
“There were four or five near-death experiences that he had, and each time that it happened, we gathered around and we blessed him and he rallied,” Hull said. And each time that happened, the once-directionless church leaders “grew in strength by helping him.”
“The hearts of these men had changed,” Hull said. “They were nurturing and loving Kevin and while they were doing that, they changed. … There was an incredible energy, loving energy emanating from them. They brought other people out, [too].”
And that change was spreading. When Meik walked into that first leadership meeting, there were eight men. By the time he died, there were 18.
Meik’s influence spread. Hull knew a veteran who was suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and needed a place to live. Meik volunteered to convert his basement into an apartment for the vet.
“[The vet’s] psychiatrist said to him, ‘I’m amazed that you are still alive,’ ” Hull said. “Part of the reason he’s alive is because of Kevin Meik.”
Meik’s health was returning, too. After several months, the church ordained him an elder. A year later, and still in good health, they ordained him a high priest.
“Kevin coming into our world provided a chance to save him,” Hull said, “and through that, we saved ourselves.”
Meik and a friend eventually started visiting The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints temples every week. On Jan. 29, his friend was waiting for him — they were supposed to go to the Mount Timpanogos Temple in American Fork.
Meik never showed.
The friend, concerned, called Meik’s daughter. She in turn called the police. When officers arrived at Meik’s home, they found his body. Someone had shot him in the head.
Police are awaiting DNA test results to help them find his killer.
As far as Hull is concerned, Meik was spiritually prepared to meet his savior. “He was in a place where he had prepared himself so that when he died, he had no regrets.”
But Meik’s story, for all its Mormon trappings, isn’t meant necessarily to be an LDS one, Hull said; it’s about people serving one another and the saving grace found in that. “I want the people to know Kevin’s life had an impact,” Hull said. “They need to know the story.”