The Rev. Dr. Sean B. Murray came to the First Congregational Church of Riverhead after more than 12 years as pastor at the Community Church of Syosset. He holds a master's of divinity from Union Theological Seminary (1991) and a doctorate from the New York Theological Seminary. Dr. Murray was born in Patchogue and raised in Great River. He completed a year of study in Madrid as an undergraduate and an academic semester in Cuba while in seminary.
"I'm very pleased to be called to a church that's as active in social ministry as it is," Dr. Murray said, citing the downtown church's soup kitchen, ESL classes and its status as an "open and affirming" church within the United Church of Christ. "It's a very welcoming, progressive church. I'd like the church to be a house of God, where everyone feels God's embrace, knows they're welcome and has opportunities for service," the pastor said, "and a place where the kids love to be." "The hearts of the children are most open to the presence of God. If you're still fearing the monster under the bed you need to know you're in the embrace of Jesus," he said. "It's a genuinely good theology for all of us to learn that there are angels in our midst. We all need help every now and again and God blesses us with people to help us out, some known and some not," Dr. Murray said. "These are the faces of hope and these are God's messengers, which is really where the word 'angel' comes from. Angels are the spokespeople for God, the doers, the presence of the divine community in human and in spirit form. Believe that there are angels in your midst."
Dr, Murray's diverse background includes work as a waiter; a writer, copy editor and photo editor at Religion News Service; a late 1980s stint at the American Bible Society; and work in the UCC national offices for homelessness and economic justice programs and its LGBTQ ministries.Before entering seminary, he worked for A Christian Ministry in the National Parks, an interdenominational organization that ministers to the faith-based needs of national parks visitors throughout the U.S. His work took him to Denali National Park in Alaska, Big Bend National Park in southwest Texas and Everglades National Park in southern Florida, where he led Sunday worship services and Bible studies. Should you join us for worship on a Sunday,you're likely to both laugh and learn with him.
The Rev. Dr. Murray at the Riverhead Memorial Day Parade