Wallace B. Smith, great-grandson of Joseph the martyr, was president of the RLDS Church from 1978 until 1996. During Smith’s eighteen-year tenure, the RLDS Church trans-formed from a sect to a denomination. This shift can be seen in five innovations that occurred through his leadership. Best known is the ordination of women, which began 17 November 1985. But four other changes were part of the shift he orchestrated: construction of the temple in Independence, Missouri, during his tenure and its subsequent dedication to the pursuit of peace; the shift from closed to open communion; the appointment of a non-Smith as his successor; and finally, the idea of changing the church’s name to the “Community of Christ.” What forces shaped this dynamic leader?
William D. Russell