Wallace B. Smith (1978-1996)
Wallace B. Smith
(Community of Christ archives)
After serving a two-year internship, Wallace B. Smith was ordained to the leadership of the church at the 1978 World Conference. He called the church to a revitalization of its worship experiences through the Worship ’81 conference. His keynote address called for worship to be more participatory, using the gifts of all—ordained and unordained. He called for increased training in worship preparation and flexibility to use many different worship formats.
Wallace B. also presided over the building and dedication of the Temple in Independence, Missouri. Ground was broken for the building in 1990, and it was dedicated at the 1994 World Conference. Its unusual structure takes its shape from the nautilus shell, a pattern found worldwide. It is dedicated to the pursuit of peace, and a significant ministry offered there is a daily prayer for peace, 365 days a year.
In 1984, the same year that the call was presented to the church to focus on the ministries that would be offered through the Temple, the church faced another challenge. In that same revelatory document, Wallace B. called for opening priesthood ministries to women as well as men. This was a change from the 150-year tradition, and there was both strong agreement and strong disagreement from members. Many chose to leave, but many more found new opportunities for service and new life in their congregations.
Continuing in the precedent that his father had set, in 1995, Wallace B. indicated that W. Grant McMurray was to be his successor upon Smith’s retirement.