First Congregational Church Welcomes New Minister

Nantucket Current •

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The First Congregational Church is welcoming Rev. Dr. Stephen Butler Murray as its next Senior Minister, following the February retirement of the Rev. Dr. Gary Klingsporn after 12 years of ministry.

Rev. Murray’s first Sunday in the pulpit of the historic church was last month.

“When we searched for our next senior minister, we wanted to find someone who would thrive on this island and in our congregation just as much as we would thrive with them as our spiritual leader," said Tracy Nichols, moderator of the church and the chair of the ministerial search committee. "I am thrilled that we found exactly that sort of candidate in Rev. Murray and his son Hunter.”

Rev. Murray is the 50th Minister to be called by the church since its founding in in the early 1700s.

Rev. Murray moved to Nantucket in mid-May from Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, and has had significant careers in parish ministry, higher education, and ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue.

He served previously as President and Professor of Systematic Theology and Preaching at Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, Michigan; as Executive Director of the Congregational Library and Archives in Boston, Massachusetts; as chaplain and on the faculty of Harvard University, Skidmore College, Endicott College, and Suffolk University; and as Magee Fellow and Director of the Public Service Internship Program at the Dwight Hall Center for Public Service and Social Justice at Yale University. He also has taught at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, Auburn Theological Seminary, Niagara University, and the Advanced Studies in England Program in Bath.

Rev. Murray earned a B.A. in philosophy and religion from Bucknell University, an M.B.A. from Endicott College, a M.Div. from Yale University Divinity School, and an M.Phil. and Ph.D. in systematic theology from Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

A scholar in the fields of Christian theology, religion and the arts, preaching, and interfaith dialogue, he has published five books in these fields.

The Center for American Progress named Dr. Murray among “16 Faith Leaders to Watch in 2016” for his advocacy on LGBTQ issues before the Michigan legislature. In 2015, the Metropolitan Christian Council of Detroit-Windsor presented him with the Stewart Kerr Ecumenical Award, and in 2017, the Detroit City Council awarded him with a “Spirit of Detroit” Award for his work in religious and spiritual leadership in Detroit. In 2019, Dr. Murray received the Luke Mowbray Ecumenical Award, the highest honor for ecumenical and interfaith ministry awarded by the American Baptist Churches USA.

Rev. Murray now resides on the island with his son Hunter and their dog Orion. He was married for nineteen years to the concert harpist Cynthia Dawdy, who died in June 2021. They met during their graduate studies together at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

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