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A Wetzel and Son Obituary for:
Rev. Stephen E. Smallman
May 29, 1940 - May 14, 2023

Public Events and Locations

Memorial Service - Thursday, June 1, 2023, 1:00 PM at Church of the Saviour, Wayne


Funeral Home - Wetzel and Son Funeral Home - 501 Easton Road, Willow Grove, PA 19090 - 215-659-0911 - Map
Clergy - Church of the Saviour - 651 North Wayne Avenue, Wayne, PA 19087 - 610-688-6338 - Map
Donation - Romanian Christian Enterprises - 1558 Forest Villa Lane, McLean, VA 22101 - 703-828-7050 - Map
Donation - Oakseed Ministries - P.O. Box 1139, Wheaton, IL - 703-876-9020 - Map

Rev. Stephen E. Smallman of Dresher, Pennsylvania, died on Sunday, May 14, 2023. He was 82 years old. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Sandy Smallman, along with his four children and their spouses, eleven grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, two brothers, and a sister.

Steve was born in Suffern, New York on May 29, 1940. After his birth, the family relocated to the Jackson Heights section of Queens, New York City, where he spent his childhood. Early memories from that time include watching a V-E celebration on Northern Parkway near the family apartment and taking the subway to Yankee Stadium to watch Mickey Mantle. Before high school, the family moved to Wheaton, Maryland. He graduated from Wheaton High School in 1957.

During his time in Maryland, he experienced a conversion to Christianity that defined the rest of his life and career. After he was cut from his high school basketball team, he joined the team at Wheaton Bible Church, which mandated church attendance. It was there that he heard of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the first time. He became a follower of Christ and decided to devote his life to full-time Christian ministry.

He earned Bachelor of Arts and Master of Theology degrees from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina before earning his Master of Divinity degree from Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1967, he accepted a position as Senior Pastor of McLean Presbyterian Church (MPC) in McLean, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. He would retain that position for nearly thirty years.

During his tenure at MPC, the Washington metropolitan area experienced a population boom. The church’s membership swelled from approximately 60 people in 1967 to over 1,200 by the time he departed in 1996. In addition, MPC spawned multiple new church plants, sponsored ministries around the world, and has continued to grow and minister to the Washington region up to the present day.

Despite the growing prominence of his church during those years, Steve was known foremost for his humility, his love of preaching and teaching the word of God, and his commitment to speaking honestly into the lives of his congregation. He was also deeply committed to his four children, their spouses, and their growing families. His wife Sandy was a steadfast confidant and advisor throughout his ministry.

In 1997, Steve accepted the position of Executive Director of World Harvest Missions (later renamed Serge). In 1998, he and Sandy relocated to the Philadelphia area. During the 25 years that followed, he would serve as interim senior pastor to multiple churches in the region experiencing leadership transition, including New Life Northeast, Liberti, and New Life Glenside. He also taught seminary classes at Covenant Theological Seminary and Westminster Theological Seminary, and taught vocational ministers in urban churches through Philadelphia-based LAMP Ministries.

Throughout his life, he was committed to advancing the gospel globally. He repeatedly traveled to countries in South and Central America, Europe, Africa, and Asia to preach, teach, and meet with missionaries. Of the many international missions MPC supported under his leadership, he was especially proud of their long-term partnership with Romanian Christian Enterprises (RCE), founded by MPC member Mary Ann Bell. Steve and Sandy each traveled to Romania several times to join RCE’s effort to help poor families and abandoned children. He chose John 20:21 (“As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you") as a mission verse for MPC, and lived that creed in his ministry to people around the world.

Beginning in the 2000s, Steve began publishing books and other materials that drew from his experience in church leadership. He authored three books (The Walk, Beginnings, and Forty Days on the Mountain), a widely-used communicants class curriculum (Understanding the Faith), and four booklets in the ‘Basics of the Reformed Faith’ series. All of his publications remain in print through Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing (P&R), and have been translated into multiple languages and distributed internationally.

During his final years, he continued preaching, teaching, and mentoring. In April 2023, he was preparing to preach on the resurrection of Christ for two consecutive weeks at his home church of New Life Glenside before unexpectedly heading to the hospital for his last days of life.

His legacy will be carried on by his children and grandchildren and by the churches in the Washington and Philadelphia regions that he faithfully served during his 55 years in ministry.

A memorial service was held at the Church of the Saviour 651 N. Wayne Ave, Wayne, PA at 1:00 P.M. on Thursday, June 1, 2023.  

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Romanian Christian Enterprises and/or Oakseed Ministries.

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