Provisions in the document submitted to the 1976 World Conference set a new precedent in the procedures for presidential succession in the church. In respect to this matter President W. Wallace Smith wrote in his transmittal letter as follows:
“In spite of the precedent which up to now has seen the president of the church remain in office until his death, the time has come for me to name my successor and also to designate the time for him to succeed me as the presiding officer of the church, to serve as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and President of the High Priesthood and the church, subject to the will of the Conference (Doctrine and Covenants 43:2a).”
The document names Wallace Bunnell Smith as prophet and president designate and provides for the retirement of W. Wallace Smith after approximately two years of “spiritual preparation and study” by his successor.
Apostle Russell F. Ralston is honorably released from the apostolic council and commended for faithful service. The vacancy is filled by the designation of C. Eugene Austin, Sr.
The grace of God is recognized in that he loves us even when we turn from him, and the call to repentance and reconciliation is accompanied by the renewed assurance of divine blessing.
I have given serious and sustained consideration over a long period of time to the question of “who shall be my successor in office.” Consequently, I have taken this matter to God in prayer repeatedly, petitioning for light so I might know the will of my heavenly Father, and knowing it have the wisdom and strength to do it.
Thus having sought the mind and will of God in matters pertaining to conduct and growth of the kingdom I am prepared to bring the following message.
To the Councils and Quorums and Orders of the Church and to the General Conference:
1a. In order that my church shall continue to be led by my spirit through the heritage of its founder, my servant Elder Wallace Bunnell Smith is called into the service of the church as an assistant to his father and to the Quorum of the Presidency, with the title, prophet and president designate.
1b. He will serve in this capacity during a period of spiritual preparation and study approximating two years, after which time, if he remain faithful, through the process of common consent of the body of my church, he is to be chosen as president to succeed his father.
1c. At that time, if his life is extended, W. Wallace Smith, my servant who will have served as the leader of my church for a period of twenty years, shall retire and be given the title of president emeritus.
2a. My servant, Elder Russell F. Ralston, having served in numerous capacities during the period of his appointment as a full-time minister in my church, the last twelve years of which as a member of the Council of Twelve, is to be honorably released from his responsibility as a member of that council.
2b. As a faithful servant in my kingdom his reward is sure if he shall continue to uphold those tenets of the gospel which he knows to be true. His apostolic witness is to be extended through his high priestly ordination and the spirit of testimony which has motivated his ministry for so many years.
2c. As a special representative under the direction of the president of the Council of Twelve he will be given opportunities to expound the gospel through preaching and teaching assignments as time and strength are available and circumstances permit, but without the burden of administrative responsibility or extensive travel in a specific geographic jurisdiction. If he continues in faith I the Lord will bless him and his family with a degree of health and strength and peace of mind equal to their needs.
3. To fill the vacancy thus created, Elder C. Eugene Austin, Sr., is called to be an apostle in my church. The consummation of this call by ordination as a member of the Council of Twelve should be accomplished as expeditiously as possible to ensure continuity of leadership in the various jurisdictions where members of the Council of Twelve serve as directed by the Presidency of the High Priesthood.
4a. The Spirit saith further: I, God, have not forsaken you nor have I changed in regard to the great and important work of the Restoration which I have called you to do. Neither have I turned from you my people. This is true in spite of the fact that some of you have turned away from me and my purposes.
4b. Some have been led to inactivity, yea and even lulled to sleep by the spirit of carelessness and indifference. Some have been overcome by the grosser sins of the world—the spirit of revelry, wanton living, use of drugs, drinking, and fornication—and have fallen away. And still others have turned away for personal aggrandizement, rejecting my leadership because of trivial offenses.
4c. All who have done any of these things are counseled to repent with a contrite heart and heaviness of spirit while there is yet time. You are further admonished to covenant with me anew that you may again be clean men and women, and find peace.
4d. My promises are sure; my yoke is easy and my burden is light for those who love me and walk in the light of my Spirit.
W. Wallace Smith
President of the Church
Missouri March 29, 1976