Stanley (Stan) Arthur Murray, American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS) alumnus, passed away at home in Royersford, Pennsylvania on January 12, 2021, from pancreatic cancer, at the age of 71. He was born May 23, 1949 in Montpelier, Vermont to Sherwood C. and Helen C. Murray.
Stan grew up in a Christian dairy farm family where he learned the characteristics of hard work, independence, and frugality. Stan incorporated these characteristics into his own life as he grew up on the farm. Later in life, Stan often spoke about his favorite pony on the farm, named Patches. He shared fully in the farm work which included not only dairy farming but also his father’s construction work. Family life was always centered around the church, and Stan observed: “I very early made the connection between the faith and love that I heard about and saw lived out at church and the faith and love demonstrated by my parents in the Christian home.”
Stan enjoyed school and eventually was able to join the drama department, acting in several plays. Prior to being active in the drama department, in his spare time he helped with many projects that sometimes never seemed to end, such as mowing lawns, cleaning and repairing around the farm, gardening and harvesting. He learned not only how to work but to enjoy working. When Stan entered a junior college in Leicester, MA, life was very different. He found his faith being tested. At First Baptist Church in Worchester, MA, he joined a strong Christian fellowship which helped him as a student leader. After two years, Stan transferred to Eastern College in St. David’s, PA to complete his college training. It was during this time that he began to see that God was shaping and molding him for his service. He was very involved in college activities, being a part of two gospel teams that ministered to area churches and the college choir. He also was the coordinator of all transportation (and driver in many cases) for music teams, athletics, and service projects. After graduating with a sociology degree, Stan returned to Vermont where he worked on highway construction. In 1972, Stan returned to Eastern College where he was an Admissions Counselor for 6 years. His life took on a new meaning and fulfillment as he was able to counsel with students; helping them to clarify their educational and vocational goals and enabling them to sort through a transitional period of life. Stan had a real sense of full-time Christian service there.
It was at Eastern College that Stan met Martha (Marty) Bowman, the daughter of a minister’s family. They were married by Marty’s father on August 4, 1973 and made their first home together in small section of the large mansion, Walton Hall, on Eastern’s campus. Stan and Marty had both met missionaries who were entertained in each of their homes and that is when the first stirrings of a call to missionary service began. As members of the Eastern Baptist College Choir, they visited Haiti where they were greatly impressed by the work of missionaries Ivah and Harold Heneise. In 1976, Stan and Marty attended the World Mission Conference at Green Lake where they talked with many missionaries. They felt the hand of God moving in their lives through the informal conversations with missionary families and with International Ministries staff. It was out of that experience that they determined to prepare for overseas missionary service. This included Stan’s return to seminary to earn his divinity degree.
Stan and Marty were appointed on April 2, 1979 by ABFMS designated for service in Okinawa/Japan. In May of 1979, Stan was ordained at the Upper Merion Baptist Church in King of Prussia, PA, where he and Marty were members and where he had served as Pastoral Intern.
Following almost two years of language study, Stan and Marty’s first objective was to visit and become acquainted with all twenty-two Baptist churches of the Okinawa Baptist Convention (OBC). Stan and Marty supported the work of the Okinawa Baptist Convention in whatever way they could and together, through prayer, judged these ways to be the best use of their abilities. This included being pastor/church planter of a pioneer church and helping that church to grow and prosper in the Lord; serving on the General Affairs Committee and the Executive Council; being available to the OBC leadership as well as the local churches to provide leadership and/or assistance wherever needed; acting as liaison for problems and opportunities that came up between Okinawan churches and English language member churches of the OBC; and providing language translation and home stay advice when needed.
When requested, Stan also pastored new churches. Stan was called on to use his abilities to help OBC accomplish things for which they saw the need but did not have the personnel with the abilities for the task. Stan wrote in a report: “Yes, I do feel confident that my abilities are being fully utilized and then some. I am not sure about others but I feel constantly challenged and sometimes even a little overwhelmed by what I am expected or asked to do, but God’s faithfulness is ever present supplying the strength and wisdom needed for each situation.”
In August of 2000, having served in Okinawa 21 years, the Murrays moved to the United States. At the end of the year, they resigned from overseas service. In early 2001 Stan joined the International Ministries office staff as Mission Partnership Coordinator. In 2001 Stan became International Ministries Area Director of South East Asia. This meant a good amount of travel, meeting with missionaries and IM partners. He remained in that position until he retired in 2015.
After retirement Stan enjoyed being involved in Royersford Baptist Church and singing in their choir, driving for Uber and International Ministries, assisting IM with transporting staff Board directors and missionaries to and from the airport and Mission House.
Stan will be remembered for his sharing of love, sense of humor, listening ear, and gentle spirit.
Stan is survived by his loving wife, Marty; children: Christopher, Timothy, Sarah, and Kate and husband Henry Shannon; grandchildren: Ceili, Jacob, and Alex.
A Celebration of Life / Memorial Service for Stan is tentatively scheduled for May 23, 2021, which would have been Stan’s 72nd birthday. Details surrounding this service will be made available at a later date, based on whether it is safe to gather in person.