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Making History Today: Presbyterian Pedigree

James S. Currie, Executive Secretary

Presbyterian Historical Society of the Southwest

A few years ago a good friend and colleague, Mike Murray, suggested in an email that it might be interesting to explore the number of multi-generational Presbyterian ministers that came from one family who served. In Texas. While an intriguing idea, for various reasons I put it on hold until recently. I wanted to expand the list to those who served in the four states served by our Society (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas).

After compiling my list that came immediately to my mind, I asked Mike if he would send me his list. Then I contacted Susan Gore, the archivist and historian of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church as well as former and current Cumberland members on our board.

Talk about a dog who finally caught up with a racing car! Or, to use another image, it was like being snowed under an avalanche. What a wonderful experience! Really. Very exciting. Mike had mentioned that the late Flynn Long, Jr. (one of those multi-generational Presbyterian ministers) had come up with such a list, but, alas, we are now left to ourselves. The most recent count that I have is 26 PCUS/PCUSA families and ten Cumberland families. No doubt, more will be uncovered. Some go back 5-6 generations while others go back 2-3 generations. At the end of this column the family names of those collected so far will be listed.

While multiple articles could (and perhaps will) be written about some of these families, in this one I will focus on one: the Murray family:

Roland, Glenn, and Berta were children of Robert and Therza Murray. Robert was an elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church in San Antonio and was a commissioner to a PCUS General Assembly in the 1940s.

While Roland and Glenn were the only two ordained Presbyterian ministers, Berta, a graduate of the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia, served as the president of the Presbyterian School for Girls (Pres.-Mex.) in Taft, Texas for 30 years. That school merged with Tex-Mex in Kingsville in 1957 and became the Presbyterian Pan American School, a coeducational, college preparatory school still going strong today.

Roland and Glenn both graduated from Austin Seminary, Roland in 1933 and Glenn in 1935. With his wife, Dorothy, Roland served churches in Del Rio, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Harlingen, Weatherford, Del Rio (again!), Orange, and San Saba.

Glenn, after serving churches in Yoakum and San Antonio, went to the Congo where he and his wife, Betty, served as missionaries from 1939-1967. Their daughter, Marcia, served as the director of a small Presbyterian hospital in the Congo. Upon returning to the States, Glenn served as associate pastor of University Presbyterian Church in Austin and then as pastor in Taylor, Texas.

In addition, Mary Lee Stone, sister to Roland, Glenn, and Berta, and her husband, Eddie, were founding members of Grace Presbyterian Church in San Antonio. Eddie was on the committee that was involved in the purchase of Mo-Ranch.

One of Roland’s children, Michael, graduated from Austin Seminary in 1961. After serving congregations in Mercedes and Kingsville, he went to serve on the staff of Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania. In 1973 he and his family moved to Arlington, Texas where he served as Parish Associate at First Presbyterian Church. He became a “Trainer”, conducting courses in Team Building, Productive Meetings, Creative Problem Solving, Conflict Resolution, Time Management, “Dealing with my difficulties with other people”, among other issues. His skills and abilities took him as far away as Poland where he conducted seminars with leaders from a variety of vocations. Mike has also served as Parish Associate at First Presbyterian Church in Austin since 1994.

Mike’s daughter, Margaret Talbot, graduated from Austin Seminary with an M.A., earned a Ph.D. in Old Testament Studies from Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, and is an ordained deacon in the PC(USA).

Mike reminds us that “There are all kinds of emphasis on ‘living in the present.’ However, if we do not have the future flowing through the present and into the past, then there is no ‘music’ in the present.”

“One generation shall laud thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).

[Here are the surnames of families having multiple generations in Presbyterian ministry:

PCUS/PC(USA): Armendariz, Brannon, Crofoot, Crofton, Currie, Dickey, Edington, Junkin, Lang, Long, McCutcheon, Miller, Minter, Murray, Newton, O’Neal, Parse, Purcell, Robertson, Stitt, Thompson, Travis, Wharton, Wilkins, Williams, and Williams (two different families).

CUMBERLAND PRESBYTERIAN: Brown, Brown (two different families), Campbell, Estes, Hall, Knight, Rustenhaven, Scrudder, Shelton, Thomas.]

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