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RLDS Session Ordains New President

April 16, 1996

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. (AP) _ For the first time in its 136-year history, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ordained a president outside the family of Mormon leader Joseph Smith Jr.

W. Grant McMurray, formerly a counselor to president Wallace B. Smith, was ordained Monday as the 245,000-member church’s new president-prophet.

Smith designated McMurray as his successor, saying it was time to broaden the base of people who could lead the church.

McMurray, 48, a fourth-generation church member, began working for the church in 1971 after getting degrees in history and religion. He was an archivist and historian and served as World Church Secretary and executive assistant to the three-member First Presidency, which includes the prophet-president. Since 1992, he has been a counselor to Smith, 66, in the First Presidency, the chief administrative quorum of the church.

Smith retains the title president emeritus and will keep an office in the church’s headquarters in Independence, a Kansas City suburb.

The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the largest of dozens of other Latter Day Saints churches that resulted from the split after the death of Smith in 1844.

Brigham Young led the congregation to Utah, where he established the Mormon Church, or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most of the Smith family and a few followers stayed in the Midwest and started a reorganized church upon the idea that Smith had designated his eldest son, Joseph Smith III, as the next prophet.

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