History of the Sword of the Lord
Dr. John R. Rice (1895-1980) - Founder of the Sword of the Lord (1934-1980)
John R. Rice was born in Cooke County, Texas, December 11, 1895.
Pastor of Baptist churches in Dallas and Shamrock, Texas, Dr. Rice started about a dozen others from his primary work as an evangelist. In the 1930's and 1940's, he held huge citywide crusades in Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo, Seattle and other major Metropolitan centers.
While pastor in Dallas in 1934, he founded THE SWORD OF THE LORD. The first printing, September 28, 1934, ran 5,000 copies which were handed out on the streets of Dallas, Texas. In 1940 the Sword of the Lord was moved to Wheaton, Illinois where it remained for the next 23 years. In 1963 the opportunity came to purchase our present location on Bridge Avenue in downtown Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
For 21 years Dr. Rice was heard weekly on the Voice of Revival—a 30-minute radio broadcast on 69 stations in 29 states, Puerto Rico and the Philippine Islands.
On Dec. 29, 1980, Dr. Rice graduated to Heaven. He was buried at the Bill Rice Ranch Cemetery (on Route 96) seven miles west of Murfreesboro.
Dr. Curtis Hutson (1934-1995) - President & Editor (1980-1995)
Curtis Hutson was a mail carrier and pastor of a small church in Decatur, Georgia. In 1961 he attended a Sword of the Lord Conference, at which time the Lord set his heart on fire. He then set out to build a great soul-winning church. Forrest Hills Baptist Church grew from 40 to 7,900. In the 1970's the church was recognized as one of the fastest-growing in America and the largest in Georgia.
Dr. Hutson was a pastor for 21 years, then entered full-time evangelism. As many as 625 souls trusted Christ in a single service. In an eight-day meeting, 1,502 salvation decisions were recorded.
In 1978 he became associate editor of THE SWORD OF THE LORD. Upon Dr. Rice's death, Dr. Hutson immediately became President and Editor.
Following a 3-year battle with cancer, Dr. Hutson graduated to Heaven on March 5, 1995 at age 60.
Dr. Shelton Smith - President & Editor Since April 27, 1995
Shortly after the death of Dr. Hutson the Sword of the Lord Board of Directors elected Dr. Shelton Smith to be the 3rd President and Editor.
Dr. Smith testifies often that he is a "product" of THE SWORD OF THE LORD. In 1963 someone sent an anonymous subscription to him. Dr. Smith says, "As a result, Dr. Rice re-tutored, re-trained and re-tooled me. My life and ministry changed. My best education came from the pages of THE SWORD OF THE LORD."
For 17 years Dr. Smith was the pastor of the Church of the Open Door, an independent, fundamental Baptist church in Westminster, Maryland. During those years the church grew from an average of 175 per Sunday to an average of 1650 per Sunday with a membership exceeding 3000. It has been now for a number of years the largest fundamental church in the Northeast.
As editor he travels every week, holding Sword campaigns across North America and around the world.
Dr. Smith has earned 4 academic degrees: Bachelor of Arts (1966), Master of Theology (1972), Doctor of Ministry (1972) and Doctor of Theology (2003).
Dr. & Mrs. (Betty) Smith have 2 children, Davina and Marlon. Davina married Guy King. Guy is Vice President of Publishing Operations here at the Sword. Marlon Smith is Executive Vice President and Managing Editor of the Sword.
Read the Biographies of great men of God, and subscribe to the Sword Newspaper.