History of the Restoration Movement


James DeForest Murch

1892-1973

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.

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.

The following year he became pastor of the Observatory Hill Christian Church at Wilson Ave. and Drum St., Northside, Columbus, Ohio. Early in his ministry he became quite proficient in his writing skills, submitting articles to the Christian Standard. In 1917 he became the junior editor of the paper.

After graduation James and Olive moved to Cincinnati while he worked daily at the Christian Standard. He also began preaching for a Christian church a few miles east of the city in Richmond. 

In 1918 James was elected president of the Disciples’ Christian Endeavor Union of Greater Cincinnati, and beginning in June of that year he edited a weekly paper called the Christian Endeavor, a magazine devoted to the development of Christian union and faith among young people of all faiths.

It was around this time that his interest in the power of the classroom began to be front and center. 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. In 1921 an article appeared claiming 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.

In 1924 James was the President of the committee that oversaw 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 in assisting in the merger of McGarvey Bible College and Cincinnati Bible Institute. Together they were merged to become Cincinnati Bible Seminary. For the next few years James DeForest Murch served the new Seminary as President.

Also beginning in 1924 he began editing a publication of the Clarke Fund 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 and outlying village of Cincinnati, he also 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 efforts. His desire was to bring people together and unite them on the teachings of the Scriptures. At the end of the decade he and Claud F. Witty of churches of Christ worked together to bring about unity in Restoration Movement churches. May of 1939 they with representatives from several divergent groups gathered at the Englewood Christian Church where different preachers presented their case. 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 ever be accomplished with a complete return to the Scriptures in all matters of faith and practice. In the end, the meeting did not bring about the intentions of its planners. Other annual meetings were planned, but the uniting of the churches 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 the next 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 he 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 James 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, Indiana. While there he began a school of biblical studies for the adults in the area who wanted continued biblical education on a deeper level. At the end of the year Murch 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 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 enjoys that year was being named President of the National Sunday school Association.

In February 1955 he attended the prayer breakfast with the President in Washington D.C. at the Mayflower Hotel. Over 200 other ministers joint President Dwight D. Eisenhower for the momentous occasion.

In May 1958 James was serving 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)

James was 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 View Current Events. For the next two years these articles appealed greatly to the religious man to return to the Bible for authority in of life.

In 1962 James received the 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) 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 his life he wrote over 20 volumes. Many of his writings were 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 about his wife. Olive C. Murch was a strong proponent and encourager in her husband’s work. She stood by him and promoted his efforts. Much could be noted about 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 was 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

Chronology Of The Life Of James D. Murch, Sr.

1861
Everett D. Murch, father of JDM was born in North Ridgeville, Lorain, Ohio

1866
July 23
Ella M. Savage, mother of JDM is born in Ohio.

1892
October 23
James Deforest Murch is born in New Vienna, Clinton County, Ohio

1915
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)

August 25
JDM Marries Olive Lucile Cameron (1891-1972) at Athens, Athens County, Ohio

1916
February
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)

1917
JDM is junior editor of the Christian Standard, Cincinnati, Ohio (The Lima-Times-Democrat, Lima, Ohio, Sat. March 31, 1917, p.5)

1918
JDM is President of the Disciples’ Christian Endeavor Union of Greater Cincinnati. (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Monday, June 3, 1918, p.10)

June
Editor of the weekly Christian Endeavor paper, Cincinnati. (The Presbyterian of the South, Atlanta, Georgia, Wednesday, June 19, 1918, p.15).

1919
Editor of “The Lookout,” Cincinnati, Ohio. A Disciples Sunday school magazine. (Palladium-Item, Richmond, Indiana, Friday, September 26, 1919, p.7)

1919
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.

1921
June 20
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)

1922
June 30
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)

1924
March
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)

December
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)

1924-1959
“Facts,” a publication of the Clarke Fund, began. JDM was editor. With the September 1925 issue the paper was changed to, “The Restoration Herald.”

1925
August
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)

1935
July 17
Announced that JDM was a “literary editor of 60 church publications.” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Wednesday, July 17, 1935, page 3)

1936
September 13
Rev. Everett D. Murch, father of JDM, dies at East Palestine, Columbiana County, Ohio.

1939
May
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.

November
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)

1940
JDM becomes minister of the Hillsboro Church of Christ a few miles east of Cincinnati.

1943-1945
Editor Of The Christian Standard, Cincinnati, Ohio.  (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Sunday, June 17, 1973)

1944
JDM wrote “Christian Education and the Local Church.” Also wrote “Cheer Along The Way.”

1946
JDM reported as editor of “United Evangelical Action” magazine. (The Lexington Herald, Lexington, Ky, Saturday, May 25, 1946, p.8)

1947
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)

1949
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)

1950
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)

Dec. 10
JDM was installed as President of the Greater Cincinnati Area Association of Evangelicals (The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio, Wednesday, December 6, 1950, p.23)

1951
JDM was the editor of “United Action,” the official magazine of the National Association of Evangelicals.

President of the National Sunday School Association

1955
February
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)

1956
July
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)

1958
May 30
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)

June
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)

July
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)

October 11
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)

1959
May
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)

1962
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)

1963
May
Ella M. Savage, mother of JDM dies at Athens, Athens County, Ohio

1964
JDM delivered the Welshimer Lectures at Milligan College. (Johnson City Press, Johnson City, Tennessee, March 6, 1964)

1967
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.

1968
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.

1969
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)

1972
June 12
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)

May
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.”

1973
June 16
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.

Other Accolades

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


The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, Indiana
Monday, October 17, 1927, p.11

May 1939 Unity Meeting Between Indianapolis, Indiana


The Indianapolis Star, Indianapolis, Indiana
Wednesday, May 3, 1939, page 15

Lexington Leader, Lexington, Kentucky
Saturday, April 24, 1948, p.10

The Spokesman Review, Spokane, Washington
Saturday, September 22, 1951, page 2

The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio
Friday, March 20, 1953, page 17


The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio
Thursday, June 15, 1972, page 43


The Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio
Sunday, June 17, 1973

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.

GPS Location
39°09'57.1"N 84°31'18.1"W
or D.d. 39.165858,-84.521690
Garden MM, Sec. E118, Lot E1, Space 0


James D. Murch
1892-1973
Olive C. Murch
1891-1972

Photos Taken 05.13.2013
Webpage produced 10.08.2021
Courtesy Of Scott Harp
www.TheRestorationMovement.com

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