W. Grant McMurray (1996–2004)
W. Grant McMurray
(Community of Christ archives)
W. Grant McMurray was ordained at the 1996 World Conference, following Wallace B. Smith’s retirement. He became the first non-Smith family member to preside over the church in its 170-year history.
In 1997, Grant called the church to a new vision. He proclaimed five key goals that would transform both individuals and the church. The foundational one was to articulate a clear and compelling Christ-centered theology of peace and justice grounded in the scriptures, faith, and tradition of the Restoration movement. Others dealt with involving children and youth in life-changing ministries and looking at creative ways of outreach and witness.
Although ministry to Native Americans had been a significant part of the early church focus, that emphasis had been lost for a number of years. In 2001, "Call to the Nations," a conference that brought together Native Americans from many backgrounds was held at the Temple. Grant was one of the keynote speakers, and he acknowledged the wrongs that had been done to the native peoples through the years both by society and the church. Sharing in sacred ceremonies with native leaders, he called for reconciliation, encouraging all to walk together, looking for ways to learn from and share with each other.
In 2000, legislation was brought to the World Conference to change the name from the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to Community of Christ. It was felt that this more adequately represented the church’s theology and mission: "We proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace." Grant expressed his belief that the name caught up two central focuses of the church: (1) the centrality of Christ, and (2) the emphasis on building model communities, caught up in the church’s tradition of Zion. This name change officially took place on April 6, 2001, the founding anniversary of the church.
At the 2002 World Conference, Grant presented six new goals for the church. These are an outgrowth of the earlier goals and encourage members to enhance their own spiritual growth as well as becoming involved in outreaching ministries.
Grant resigned from the leadership of Community of Christ effective November 29, 2004. The two remaining members of the First Presidency (Kenneth N. Robinson and Peter A. Judd) presided over the church until the Special Conference that took place in June 2005, during which Stephen M. Veazey was ordained to the office of prophet/president of the church.