Meet the New Executive Director: Stephen Butler Murray

Thursday, March 12, 2020

by Charles Hambrick-Stowe, Board Chair

This spring marks an end and a beginning. Dr. Margaret Bendroth, who has served as executive director of the CLA since 2004, will retire and Dr. Stephen Butler Murray will come in to lead the organization into its future. Special thanks to chairperson Mark Gabrielson and other members of the search committee for their faithful service.

Dr. Bendroth’s sixteen years as executive director are highlighted by the Library’s transformation from the era of the card catalog to the electronic age, national recognition of its collections and programs through major grants and award-winning publications, insuring its financial and institutional strength, and the expansion and renovation of its historic facilities at 14 Beacon Street in Boston.

“It’s been such a privilege to lead this organization,” Dr. Bendroth says, “especially because of the all the wonderful, dedicated people who have come alongside. I’m grateful to the board and search committee for the gift of their time and talents, leading to such a promising outcome with a new executive director.”

Dr. Stephen Butler Murray comes to his position at the Library following years of experience in academic administration, most recently as president of Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, as well as having served as pastor of churches in Massachusetts, New York, and Michigan. With degrees from Bucknell University (B.A.), Endicott College (M.B.A.), Yale University (M.Div.), and Union Theological Seminary in New York City (Ph.D.), he has deep roots in New England, having worked at Suffolk University, Endicott College, and Harvard University. Dr. Murray has published numerous books and articles in the fields of historical and systematic theology, ethics, and interfaith dialogue.

“I am honored to serve the Library after the extraordinary leadership of Peggy Bendroth,” Dr. Butler says. “I thank the board and staff for their welcome and am delighted to serve as the next executive director. This is one of the most important repositories and resources for religious, social, and intellectual history in the United States, a welcoming center for academic historians and lay researchers alike. I cannot wait to undertake the responsibility of growing this remarkable institution and bringing its resources to the wider public.”

As Dr. Bendroth affirms, “The Congregational Library is a strong organization in a great place. With an energetic new executive director, visionary leadership on the board, and beautifully renovated and expanded facilities, the CLA has a great future and 2020 is going to be a signal year in our long history.”

Charles Hambrick-Stowe is board chair of the Congregational Library and Archives, a historian of American religion, and pastor emeritus of the First Congregational Church in Ridgefield, CT.

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