James DeForest Murch
The Life Of James D. Murch
James DeForest Murch was born on October 23, 1892, in New Vienna, Clinton County, Ohio. He was the son of Everett D. Murch (1861-1936) and Ella M. Savage Murch (1866-1963). His father was a minister of the gospel preaching many years for the Hillsboro church of Christ in Highland County, Ohio. This is the area where James and his sister Francis grew to adulthood.
James attended Ohio University at Athens, Ohio. There he met and married Olive Lucille Cameron (1891-1972). While in college, both he and Olive were involved in student life, heading up organizations on campus, and leading in social activities. This devotion to social interaction became modus operani for both of them all their days both in the church and in the community at large.
Even before attending University James was serious about his faith and encouraging a similar level of commitment in others. Early on he was a member of the Christian Endeavor Union, a program that fostered faith development in teenagers from all faiths. In 1915 he was a field agent for the Ohio Chapter of the organization. Within three years he was made President of the organization and with it the task of editing the organization's paper, a weekly called Christian Endeavor.
In 1916, he became pastor of the Observatory Hill Christian Church at Wilson Ave. and Drum St., Northside, Columbus, Ohio. And around this time began submitting articles to the Christian Standard, a paper that would ultimately identify with the Independent Christian Church. In 1917, he became the junior editor of the paper.
After graduation, James and Olive moved to Cincinnati where he worked daily at the Christian Standard. He also began preaching for a Christian church a few miles east of the city in Richmond, Ohio.
It was around this time that his interest in the power of the Sunday School became a major focus in his ministry. He believed in what the Sunday School program could accomplish for all Christians, especially the young people. In 1919, he began editing a paper called, The Lookout, devoted to providing Bible class material, and improving Sunday schools among the Disciples of Christ. By 1921 there were 600,000 subscribers to the paper. In June of that year, he appeared at the annual Christian Endeavor Society Convention in Dayton. 2500 teens attended. The following year he was elected president of the Ohio chapter of the CES.
James served as President of a committee overseeing what was then known as the Clarke Fund. In 1919, Cincinnati businessman Sidney Clarke, following the passing of his wife, donated his entire estate to the planting and growing of churches. In March of 1924, Murch announced that the Clarke Fund would be used to assist in the merger of McGarvey Bible College and Cincinnati Bible Institute. Together they became Cincinnati Bible Seminary. For the next few years he served the new seminary as President. In June of that year, he began editing the Clarke Fund publication called Facts. The following year, the name of the paper changed to The Restoration Herald. He served as editor of this paper for the next forty-five years.
In August 1925, James resigned his post as minister of Richmond Christian church and began preaching for the Blanchester church of Christ in Blanchester, Ohio. Also an outlying village of Cincinnati, he was able to devote his energies to his role as President of the Restoration Herald and editing The Lookout. In 1928, he stepped down from the Presidency of Cincinnati Bible Seminary.
In the 1930’s the fame of James DeForest Murch expanded throughout the nation. He was called to speak in gospel meetings, on lecture programs, and in unity gatherings. His desire was to bring people together and unite them on the teachings of the Scriptures. He was seen in Christendom at large as a conservative, back to the Bible, scholar. At the end of the decade he and Claud F. Witty (of churches of Christ worked together to bring about unity among Restoration Movement churches. In May of 1939 they, with representatives from several divergent groups within the movement, gathered at the Englewood Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, where different preachers presented their case for unity. The effort was considered positive by most represented. H. Leo Boles (1874-1946), representing churches of Christ, spoke in detail of the historical additions that had led to divisions in the movement over the years, and admonished that true unity could only be accomplished with a complete return to the Scriptures in all matters of faith and practice. Read that speech in its entirety here. In the end, the meeting did not bring about the intentions of its planners. Subesquent annual meetings were planned, but the uniting of the churches of the RM proved not to be possible.
In November James resigned as preacher of the Blanchester Church of Christ and became minister of the Hillsboro Church of Christ in Hillsboro, Ohio. While there his connections with the Christian Standard increased. Finally in 1943, he was named editor of the paper. This was a role he continued in for two years.
In 1946, James became editor of United Evangelical Action magazine. It was a paper of the National Association of Evangelicals. It was reported in 1947 that the paper is "published twice a month at Cincinnati; that the N.A.E. has affiliations with 22 denominations, hundreds of single churches with a combined membership of 1,250,000, scrooges of educational institutions, mission boards, and other Christian organizations, mission boards, and other Christian organizations representing a constituency of over 3,000,000.” (The Atkinson Graphic, Atkinson, Nebraska, January 24, 1947, page 1)
The next year James DeForest Murch was elected to charter membership in Alpha Kappa Omega, an international honor society for professional Christian workers. (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Saturday, May 24, 1947, p.7)
In 1949 he became the founding editor of the Evangelical Press Association and participated in a convention in Chicago in April for the purpose of discussing journalism, denomination, Sunday school, missionary, youth and children’s publications.” (Oklahoma City Star, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Thursday, March 31, 1949, page 1) That year he also served as an interim minister for the Englewood Christian Church in Indianapolis. While there he began a school of biblical studies for the adults in the area who wanted continued education on a deeper level. At the end of the year, he was elected president of the National Sunday School Association, an association sponsored by the National Association of Evangelicals. (Word And Way, Kansas City, Missouri, Thursday, December 22, 1949, p.2)
In 1950, he chaired a Building Committee for the building of a $120,000.00 sanctuary for the Westwood-Cheviot Church of Christ, located on Glenmore and Meadow Ave., in Cincinnati. (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Saturday, January 14, 1950, p.9) He served this congregation many years in various capacities including superintendent of Bible schools and in the role of elder. At the end of the year, he was elected President of the Greater Cincinnati Area Association of Evangelicals. (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Wednesday, December 6, 1950, p.23) He also edited a paper for the organization called United Action. One other accolade he enjoyed that year was being named President of the National Sunday School Association.
In February 1955, he attended a prayer breakfast in Washington D.C. at the Mayflower Hotel. Over 200 other ministers joined, then President Dwight D. Eisenhower for the momentous occasion of prayer and devotion.
In May 1958, James was serving on the board of directors of the Christian Hour, the national weekly broadcast of the Christian Church. Also, he spoke at the graduation ceremonie of Midwest Christian College. (The Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Wednesday, May 28, 1958) That year, he also served as President of the local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. In June, he and a group of others made a pilgrimage to Oxford, Ohio on the chapter’s annual Independence Day Pilgrimage. (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Wednesday, June 25, 1958, page 18)
He began submitting articles to The Cincinnati Enquirer on a regular basis in October 1958. The articles were under the column, "A Churchman Views Current Events." For the next two years these articles appealed greatly to all Americans to return to the Bible for authority in all life pursuits.
In 1962, James received the Distinguished Service Award for his attainments in the field of religion from his Alma Mater, Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. (“Former New Viennan Honored At Ohio U,” (Wilmington News-Journal, Wilmington, Ohio, Friday, June 22, 1962, page 5) And in 1964 he delivered the Welshimer Lectures at Milligan College. (Johnson City Press, Johnson City, Tennessee, March 6, 1964)
It has already been established that James DeForest Murch became known widely for his writing skills. In addition to his extraordinry editing skills, in his life he wrote over 20 volumes. Many of his writings addressed education in the churches. He loved history and the Restoration Movement. In his way, he continued to urge his readers to respect that the only way true unity could be achieved was through the Scriptures alone. Shortly before his death he produced an autobiography entitled, “Adventuring For Christ in Changing Times."
Some things should be said of Olive C. Murch. She was a strong proponent and encourager in her husband’s work. Much could be said about the contributions of her own life. Beside giving birth to one son, James DeForest Murch, Jr., Olive was devoted to making the society around her a better place. She worked for the promotion of women in the workplace. She serced on boards of Women’s auxiliary organizations. Many of her activities were reported on in The Cincinnati Enquirer. Olive lived to be 81 years of age when she passed from this life on June 12, 1972. She was buried in the Mausoleum at Spring Grove Cemetery.
James outlived Olive about a year when he died of a heart attack in his home in on June 16, 1973. Burial followed in the mausoleum next to his wife.
-Scott Harp 10.11.2021
Sources: Mainly, several newspaper reports found on Newspapers.com.
Chronology Of The Life Of James D. Murch, Sr.
Everett D. Murch, father of JDM was born in North Ridgeville, Lorain, Ohio
Ella M. Savage, mother of JDM is born in Ohio.
James Deforest Murch is born in New Vienna, Clinton County, Ohio
JDM living in Columbus, Ohio and was a field secretary for the Ohio Christian Endeavor Union. (Pittsburgh Daily Post, Pittsburgh, PA, Feb. 26, 1915, p.2)
JDM Marries Olive Lucile Cameron (1891-1972) at Athens, Athens County, Ohio
Became pastor of the Observatory Hill Christian Church at Wilson Ave. and Drum St., Northside, Columbus, Ohio. Lived at 1828 Wynhurst St., Northside. (The Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pa, Friday, February 25, 1916, p.7)
JDM is junior editor of the Christian Standard, Cincinnati, Ohio (The Lima-Times-Democrat, Lima, Ohio, Sat. March 31, 1917, p.5)
JDM is President of the Disciples’ Christian Endeavor Union of Greater Cincinnati. (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Monday, June 3, 1918, p.10)
Editor of the weekly Christian Endeavor paper, Cincinnati. (The Presbyterian of the South, Atlanta, Georgia, Wednesday, June 19, 1918, p.15).
Editor of “The Lookout,” Cincinnati, Ohio. A Disciples Sunday school magazine. (Palladium-Item, Richmond, Indiana, Friday, September 26, 1919, p.7)
The Clarke Fund - Sidney Clarke was a successful businessman in Cincinnati, Ohio. In honor of the passing of his wife in 1919, he determined that his estate would be used to established new churches. By 1921 30 new churches were started and about 200 others strengthened. JDM served as President of the fund. That name of the fund was changed later to the Christian Restoration Association.
As state second Vice President of the Christian Endeavor Society, JDM participates in the annual state gathering at Hotel Gibbons in Dayton, with expected crowds of 2,500 young people. Art. states that he edits “Lookout” which is a weekly paper of the Disciple of Christ with 600,000 subscribers. (The Dayton Herald, Dayton, Ohio, Monday, June 20, 1921, p.16)
At the 1922 convention of the Ohio Christian Endeavor Union, JDM becomes President of the state Christian Endeavor Society. (The Akron Beacon Journal, Akron, Ohio, Saturday, July 1, 1922, p.11)
As President of the Clarke Fund, a voluntary home missionary agency of the Christian Church, JDM assisted in the merger of McGarvey Bible College and Cincinnati Bible Institute. Together they were merged to become Cincinnati Bible Seminary. The Seminary was to run under the auspices of the Clarke Fund. JDM becomes the Seminary’s first President. (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Sunday, March 9, 1924, p.16)
A division took place in the Richmond Christian church, of which JDM was minister. A group of nearly 80 member departed to begin the West End Church of Christ. The new church elected “Rev. O.W. Baylor” as minister. JDM stayed with Richmond Christian. The division was reported in newspapers as having to do with the Ku Klux Klan, of which some were members. According to an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer the division was over charges made against the handling of the Clarke Fund by the church’s leadership. (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Thursday, December 11, 1924, p.12)
“Facts,” a publication of the Clarke Fund, began. JDM was editor. With the September 1925 issue the paper was changed to, “The Restoration Herald.”
JDM resigns as minister of Richmond Christian Church in Cincinnati to work full time as president of the Restoration Association and full-time editor of The Restoration Herald and full-time editor of “The Lookout.” (Lexington Herald-Leader, Lexington, Ky., Sunday, September 20, 1925, p.11)
JDM becomes pastor of Blanchester Church of Christ, in NE Cincinnati. A pastorate he holds until 1939, 14 years.
Serves as president of Cincinnati Bible Seminary from 1925-1928 (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Sunday, June 17, 1973)
Announced that JDM was a “literary editor of 60 church publications.” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Wednesday, July 17, 1935, page 3)
Rev. Everett D. Murch, father of JDM, dies at East Palestine, Columbiana County, Ohio.
JDM of the Christian Church and Claud F. Witty of churches of Christ organized a unity meeting between the churches that claimed to have been divided for 70 years. The meeting took place at the Englewood Christian Church in Indianapolis with several speakers from both groups. Over 400 in attendance.
After 14 years as pastor of Blanchester Church of Christ, in NE Cincinnati, JDM resigns. (Wilmington News-Journal, Wilmington, Ohio, Friday, November 3, 1939, p.6)
JDM becomes minister of the Hillsboro Church of Christ a few miles east of Cincinnati.
Editor Of The Christian Standard, Cincinnati, Ohio. (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Sunday, June 17, 1973)
JDM wrote “Christian Education and the Local Church.” Also wrote “Cheer Along The Way.”
JDM reported as editor of “United Evangelical Action” magazine. (The Lexington Herald, Lexington, Ky, Saturday, May 25, 1946, p.8)
JDM was elected to charter membership in Alpha Kappa Omega, an international honor society for professional Christian workers. (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Saturday, May 24, 1947, p.7)
JDM was the founding chairman of Evangelical Press Association - planned a convention in Chicago April 4-6. The plan was to discuss journalism - “denominational, Sunday school, missionary, youth and children’s publications.” (Oklahoma City Star, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Thursday, March 31, 1949, page 1)
JDM serves as interim minister for Englewood Christian church in Indianapolis, Indiana. Where there starts an evening “School Institute” for church members. (The Indianapolis News, Indianapolis, Indiana, Saturday, September 24, 1949, page 11)
JDM was elected president of the National Sunday School Association, an association sponsored by the National Association of Evangelicals. (Word And Way, Kansas City, Missouri, Thursday, December 22, 1949, p.2)
JDM is Chairman of the Building Committee for the building of a $120,000.00 Sanctuary for the Westwood-Cheviot Church of Christ, on Glenmore and Meadow Ave., in Cincinnati, Ohio (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Saturday, January 14, 1950, p.9)
JDM was installed as President of the Greater Cincinnati Area Association of Evangelicals (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Wednesday, December 6, 1950, p.23)
JDM was the editor of “United Action,” the official magazine of the National Association of Evangelicals.
President of the National Sunday School Association
JDM attended prayer breakfast in Mayflower Hotel in Washington D.C. with President Eisenhower with 200 other ministers (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Wednesday, February 2, 1955, page 3)
JDM, “superintendent of the Bible school and elder of the” Westwood-Cheviot Church of Christ, led a pilgrimage to Cane Ridge, Kentucky where the old meetinghouse had just been encased with stone and steel costing over $100,000.00. JDM was the featured speaker at 2pm, (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Friday, July 27, 1956, page 29)
JDM serves on the board of directors of the Christian Hour, the national weekly broadcast of the Christian Church. Also speaks at the graduation of Midwest Christian College. (The Daily Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Wednesday, May 28, 1958)
JDM is president of Ohio state society, and Cincinnati chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. Makes pilgrimage to Oxford, Ohio on the chapter’s annual Independence Day Pilgrimage. (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Wednesday, June 25, 1958, page 18)
JDM announced as being on the board of the Disciples Of Christ Historical Society, which has headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, has been named as managing editor of Christianity Today magazine in Washington D.C. (The Tennessean, Nashville, Tennessee, Friday, July 11, 1958, page 19)
JDM begins a column in The Cincinnati Enquirer called, A Churchman Views Current Issues. The first article was “Secularism Is Threat to American Culture.” (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Saturday, October 11, 1958, page 19) He continues contributing to 1960. (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Sunday, June 17, 1973)
JDM delivers the annual commencement speech at the 78th graduating class of Milligan College near Elizabethton, Tennessee. Awarded Doctor of Divinities Degree from the college (Elizabethton Star, Elizabethton, Tennessee, Sunday, May 24, 1959, page 23)
Received Distinguished Service Award for attainments in the field of religion from his Alma Mater, Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. (“Former New Viennan Honored At Ohio U,” (Wilmington News-Journal, Wilmington, Ohio, Friday, June 22, 1962, page 5)
Ella M. Savage, mother of JDM dies at Athens, Athens County, Ohio
JDM delivered the Welshimer Lectures at Milligan College. (Johnson City Press, Johnson City, Tennessee, March 6, 1964)
JDM authored, “The Protestant Revolt,” a 326-page volume, from Crestwood Books, Arlington, Va., $3.95. The book is an attack on the National Council of Churches’ effort to undermine American Protestantism through “red-tinted policies and watering down the faith.” Book reviewed in The Advocate-Messenger, Danville, Kentucky, Sunday, January 21, 1968, page 21 & Press-Telegram, Long Beach, California, Saturday November 25, 1967, page 15.
JDM, having grown raised in Highland County, and his father was a minister for the Christian church there, he spoke at a weekend rally September 27-29 at the Hillsboro Church of Christ, the church of his youth. It was an effort of 17 churches of Christ in the county who were part of the organization.
JDM speaks at Commencement Exercises for Emmanuel School of Religion on the ground of Milligan College near Johnson City, Tennessee. (Johnson City Press, Johnson City, Tennessee, Saturday, June 14, 1969. Page 7)
Olive C. Murch dies in Cincinnati, Ohio. Burial follows at the Spring Grove Mausoleum. (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Thursday, June 15, 1972, page 43)
JDM was inducted into the Restoration Hall of Fame at Pacific Christian College, Long Beach, California. (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Sunday, June 17, 1973)
JDM completed his autobiography, “Adventuring For Christ in Changing Times.”
JDM dies of a heart attack at his home. Burial his Cincinnati home (5300 Hamilton Ave.) at the age of 80. Burial at Spring Grove Mausoleum (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, June 17, 1973, page 6.
Authored over 20 books
Received honorary Doctorates from Northwest Christian College and Milligan College
Many years he was listed in Who’s Who in America.
Member of Phi Kappa Tau, Delta Sigma Chi, Tau Kappa Alpha, Omricon Delta Kappa and other honorary fraternities.
Honored by election as a fellow of the International Institute of Arts and Letters.
Served on the Board Of Directors for the National Sunday school Association.
Dayton Daily News, Dayton, Ohio
Saturday, June 30, 1923, p.5
The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinati, Ohio
Sunday, March 9, 1924, page 16
James DeForest Murch (right) at the 1927 North American Christian Convention
May 1939 Restoration Movement Unity Meeting In Indianapolis, Indiana
The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, Indiana
Wednesday, May 3, 1939, page 15
The Spokesman Review, Spokane, Washington
Saturday, September 22, 1951, page 2
The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio
Friday, March 20, 1953, page 17
Directions To Grave
Spring Grove Cemetery is located in an old part of Cincinnati, Ohio's downtown area. Traveling North on I-75 from Kentucky, cross the river into Cincinnati, continue until you see the I-74 exit. Take I-74 to the first exit (Exit 19). At the traffic light turn right and go about three blocks. Turn left on Spring Grove Avenue. James and Olive Murch are buried among a variable who's who among leaders in the Restoration Movement. For a list of others buried there click on the Spring Grove link above.
or D.d. 39.165858,-84.521690
Garden MM, Sec. E118, Lot E1, Space 0
Photos Taken 05.13.2013
Webpage produced 10.08.2021
Courtesy Of Scott Harp