John Stammer Smith

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

1917 - 1992

Ordained September 29, 1938 by Elk Presbytery

Moderator of the 124th General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church
June 17-21, 1954 - Dyersburg, Tennessee

Committee on Examination and Conference made report which was adopted, and is as follows; Your Committee on Examination and Conference have had before us John Stammer Smith of the Petersburg congregation, who stated the fact that the Lord had called him to preach the gospel. After due examination of the candidate by the committee as to his internal call and to his qualifications, your Committee recommends that John Stammer Smith be received as a candidate to the ministry in this Presbytery, and his name be enrolled as such. That he be required to write a discourse from the text Rom. 5: 1 for examination by the Committee by the fall Presbytery, and that he be remembered in prayer at the adoption of the recommendation.
     Committee; E. Rueb, Chairman
                        T. M. Hendrix
                        W. C. Lloyd
                         J. W. Simmons

John Stammer Smith, who had been taken under the care of the Presbytery, was asked to conduct the devotional service Friday A.M.

[Source: Minutes of the Elk Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, April 29, 1937 - New Salem congregation at Boonshill, Tennessee]


The hour of 8:30 having arrived, to which Presbytery stood adjourned the moderator called the body together and after a song prayer was led by Rev. H. R. Robinson, after which Devotional was conducted by John Stammer Smith, from John 21: 1-17. Prayer was then led by Bro. J. K. Moore.

Request of John Stammer Smith for Student Aid from Board of Education granted.

[Source: Minutes of the Elk Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, April 30, 1937 - New Salem congregation at Boonshill, Tennessee]

Committee on Theology and Literature, made the following report, which on motion was adopted,

We your Committee on Theology and Literature submit the following report:
Candidate, John Stammer Smith sent us his discourse on Rom: 5: 1 and the Committee examined the same. We are well pleased with his efforts and recommend that the Presbytery excuse him from attending this sitting, on account of being in Bethel college in school. We further recommend that he prepare another discourse, from the text Jno. 3: 16 to be given in person at the spring Presbytery.

Committee: E. Rueb
T. M. Hendrix
J. W. Simmons

[Source: Minutes of the Elk Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, September 30, 1937]

Senior Pictures of John Stammer Smith and Myra June Shelton
Bethel College Log Cabin 1938, page 18
They marry on May 26, 1939

At this time the Committee on Examination and Conference made a verbal report, recommending that Licentiate, Jno. S. Smith be ordained to the full work of the ministry, which was adopted and the hour of 4 oclock set for this service with Rev. Morris to bring the message and Rev. Burroughs to give the charge.

Recess out, the special hour having arrived. Song "Have Thine Own Way Lord" was sung. John Stammer Smith was then ordained to the full work of the ministry.

[Source: Minutes of the Elk Presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, September 29, 1938 - Rocky Glade congregation

Election of Moderator

Rev. John Stammer Smith of Cookeville Presbytery was on motion unanimously elected moderator and was escorted to the platform by Rev. Virgil Weeks of Mississippi Presbytery and presented to the retiring moderator and the General Assembly. Rev. Roy Shelton, Knoxville Presbytery was asked by the newly elected moderator to lead the Assembly in prayer. The newly elected moderator appointed Rev. A. D. Rudolph of Lebanon Presbytery as the assistant moderator.
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1954, page 164]

John S. Smith Named Moderator of 124th General Assembly at Dyersburg

The pastor of the First Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Cookeville, Tenn., Rev. John Stammer Smith, was elected moderator of the 124th General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in session at Dyersburg, Tenn., on Thursday noon, June 17.

He won in the election for the highest position in the church in a close race with Rev. A. D. Rudolph of Nashville, the vote being 63 to 58. Elected on the third ballot, two other ministers were nominated Rev. Klahr F. Raney of Dallas and Rev. Loyce S. Estes of Lubbock, Tex.

The new moderator succeeds Elder Charles L. Lehning, Jr., of Chattanooga, who just before the elected delivered the annual moderator's sermon to a large overflow crowd of some 700 people. Speaking on "The Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the World Today." Mr. Lehning urged that the denomination present a united front along with other Christian denominations as it goes forward in its mission of winning people to Christ, as it opposes Communism, and as it opposes the forces which seek to drive wedges dividing the denomination and separating them from other churches in their common task.

Nominating the new moderator was Rev. Virgil T. Weeks of Jackson, Miss., who jokingly said that the Rev. Mr. Smith is not only big enough physically (congregation laugh) but he was big enough spiritually to serve the church well as moderator. The nomination was seconded by Elder W. A. McDonald of Carthage, Tenn., who pointed out that Cookeville Presbytery, of which Rev. Mr. Smith is a member, never had a moderator of the General Assembly.

Born 37 years ago, the new moderator is married to the former June Shelton. They have two children: Maribeth, age 13 and David Roy, age 10.

A graduate of Bethel College, Moderator Smith has served the following churches: Cornersville, Tenn. group; Rockvale, Tenn. group; Kenton, Tenn. group; Maryville, Tenn.; Bowling Green, Ky.; and since December 1952 has been pastor of Cookeville.

[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, June 22, 1954, page 3]

The 125th General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church convened in Lubbock, Texas, at 10:45 a.m. After a worship service conducted by the Rev. Loyce Estes of Lubbock Presbytery, the Rev. John Stammer Smith, Retiring Moderator, delivered a message on the subject, "The God of Our Fathers," based on the scripture found in Exodus 15:2. The opening prayer was led by the Rev. Loyce Estes of Lubbock Presbytery.
[Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1955, page 145]

Moderator's Report

At the conclusion of the meeting of the General Assembly in Dyersburg, Tennessee last June, I expressed my gratitude for the spirit of cooperation which was exhibited there by all the members of that assembly and voiced the belief that it was an indication of unity in our denomination for which we have sincerely prayed. The events which have transpired since that date have served to emphasize this belief. In my contact throughout the church I have witnessed a spirit of cooperation and unity such as I have not seen before. I believe that this is reflected in our record contributions to the Denominational Budget this year.


I have endeavored to make as many contacts as possible during the year. I visited six of our synods in their synodical meetings but was prohibited from visiting the others because of prearranged programs in my own church. I have visited presbyteries or churches within the bounds of all the synods of the church. I have driven my own car some 11,000 miles this year in this work in addition to trips made by other conveyance. I have answered as many calls as possible but on many occasions have had to say no because of previous commitments or of the program of my local church.

Stated Clerk

A commission was appointed by the 124th General Assembly to fill the office of Stated Clerk, a post vacated by the resignation of Dr. Wayne Wiman. The services of Rev. H. Shaw Scates were secured and he was inducted into the office Jan. 1, 1955. I express by appreciation to both Dr. Wiman and Rev. Scates for their invaluable assistance to me. I am also grateful to the commission for the splendid work done.

Mid-Century Spiritual Advance

This year witnessed the launching of the Mid-Century Spiritual Advance program with the theme "Open Your Home to God" receiving the emphasis. I am happy to see the enthusiastic manner in which our people have received this program and the efficient way in which many of our churches have promoted it through their local programs. I can only hope that the theme of tithing will have just such a reception in 1956.

Laymen's Conference

Another interesting and important program launched during the year was the denominational laymen's conference held at Bethel College last fall. This conference was sponsored by the Denomination's Board of Missions and Evangelism and in my estimation was a highly successful venture. It was my privilege to be in attendance and to witness the sincerity, consecration and enthusiasm of the many men who were present. This experience is another of my reasons for believing that our church is destined to accomplish greater things for the kingdom of our Lord.

Expense Account

It has been my experience this year that our church is calling more and more for the services of the Moderator of the General Assembly and that it is expected of him to travel to the various areas of our church in making contacts as the denominational leader. If he is to render this service, the expense account of $300 per year is very inadequate. I therefore recommend that the budget of the Stated Clerk be increased to make possible an expense account of $600 per year for the Moderator of the General Assembly.

Recommendation Concerning Planning Committee

This year the date for the spring meeting of the Planning Committee came during Holy Week. Since many of the members of the committee had special programs arranged in their local churches, it was highly inadvisable to hold the meeting at that time. I recommend that the Assembly make such changes in the rules concerning the planning committee that the Moderator would be able to change the date on those years when it normally would fall during Holy Week.


Finally, I want to give expression of my sincere gratitude for the privilege of serving my church in this capacity this year. I thank all those who have assisted me and advised with me during the year. The privilege of sharing in the spiritual endeavor of our church this year has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. I sincerely pray that God will direct the activities of the 125th General Assembly that all that is done shall be to the glory of God alone.
                                                                          John S. Smith
Source: Minutes of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, 1955, pages 113-114]

Moderator of 1954 Assembly dies

The Rev. John Stammer Smith, 75, moderator of the 1954 General Assembly, died May 21 in McKenzie, TN.

A 1938 graduate of Bethel College, Smith was a high school teacher for eight years and then began a series of pastorates that took him throughout Tennessee and to Bowling Green, KY, and Olney, Marshall and Ovilla, TX.

A member of West Tennessee Presbytery, he had retired in April from Atwood, TN, Church.

He served terms on the General Assembly's Board of Christian Education and on the Board of Trustees of the Children's Home. In addition, he had been moderator of presbyteries and synods in most of the areas where he lived.

Born in Lincoln County, TN, he was the son of the late Rev. D. B. Smith, a Cumberland Presbyterian minister, and the late Annie Elizabeth Stammer.

Surviving are his wife of 53 years, June Shelton Smith; a daughter, Maribeth McGuire, McKenzie; a son, David R. Smith, a chaplain with the United States Army; a sister, Gene Smith Bailey, Kelso, TN; and four grandchildren.

Funeral services were conducted June 3 at McKenzie Church by Robert M. Shelton, liturgist; James W. Knight, preacher; and Wayne A. Shelton, organist. Burial was at Shiloh Church, Greeneville, TN, with Virgil A. Bailey presiding.

[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, August 1992, page 10]

Smith Family Information

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Updated July 13, 2009