In 1958, instead of calling Lynn Smith to replace his father in the office of Presiding Patriarch, he named Roy Cheville to the office in a break with a tradition of lineal succession. Following a 1960 worldwide missionary tour, W. Wallace Smith's tenure as church president saw substantial overseas growth in the church, especially in Africa, Latin America, and the Far East. The internationalization of the church also began an era of significant doctrinal and practical changes.
Smith designated his son, Wallace B. Smith as his successor in 1976, and in 1978 he became the first president of the church to retire to "emeritus" status — all previous presidents had served until their deaths. To ensure a smooth transition, W.W. Smith read a letter of resignation shortly before his son was ordained.
| Preceded by:|
Israel A. Smith
| President of the Community of Christ |
| Succeeded by:|
Wallace B. Smith