Rev. Dr. Murdoch MacPherson–Pastor Mac–passed away peacefully on Sunday, August 13, 2017, surrounded by his family and pastor at Morristown Memorial Hospital. He was 74. The Resurrection Liturgy was on Sunday, August 20th at 3:00pm at Faith Lutheran Church, 524 South Street, New Providence.
On May 20, 1970, Pastor Mac was ordained in Ocean City, NJ. For almost five decades, Pastor Mac spent his life as a faithful servant of God, determined to help all those in need and speak for those who had no voice. From the mountains of Africa to the hills of Tennessee to the streets of Newark, Pastor Mac was constantly reminded of God’s grace through a ministry that enabled him to share the hope and promise of God with all of God’s children.
A life-long student, Pastor Mac received his Bachelor of Arts from Rutgers University, his Master of Divinity from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and his Doctor of Ministry from the Graduate Theological Foundation following studies at Notre Dame and Ancillia. He strove to pass on his knowledge through countless bible studies and forums and served for more than three decades as a guest lecturer at the College of St. Elizabeth. He was a Holocaust Resource Educator at Drew University and the College of St. Elizabeth, where he also served on the Advisory Board for the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education.
In 1970, Pastor Mac was called to Grace Lutheran Church in Trenton, NJ, until his duties were expanded with a parish partnership between Grace and St. Bartholomew where he served both congregations. In 1976, Pastor Mac was called to Trinity Lutheran Church in Dover, NJ, where he remained until 1982. His final calling was to Faith Lutheran Church in New Providence, NJ. He has served Faith passionately and selflessly for almost 35 years.
Pastor Mac’s partner in his service to God has been his loving wife of over fifty years, Carol. Meeting at a church in Camden, NJ, as children and then dating as teenagers, Pastor Mac and Carol decided their path together. Carol’s faith is just as strong and touched as many lives as he did throughout their wonderful journey. Pastor Mac described her as the person “he could never deserve in [his] wildest dreams, who has been a constant source of encouragement, love, and grace. My life partner, my best friend.” Thankfully, we are left with Carol to continue the mission they started so many years ago.
Pastor Mac believed in the necessity and future of the church and served as Director of Synod Planning and on the Synod Council for more than 30 years. His faith and dedication to the future of the calling he so fervently followed led him to serve as Director of Candidacy for the NJ Synod, grooming the future leaders of the Lutheran Church and those who would continue the work to care for all the children of God.
Pastor Mac was a passionate preacher who spoke with humor and personal anecdotes that brought scripture to life to help guide his flock through all the vicissitudes of life. Although he is gone, the scripture remains the same and the message is simple: love your neighbor, help each other, stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves, fight injustice and bigotry, and remember “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 5:10. The good fight will be rewarded.
Constantly trying to unite all the people of God and counter intolerance, Pastor Mac served as co-chair of the Mayor’s Diversity Task Force in New Providence, formed to create a framework for inclusiveness and unity within the community after 9/11. He also began an Interfaith Dialogue with the Jewish community more than two decades ago, with partnerships that now gather Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, B’ahai, and Christian communities.
Pastor Mac had many favorite bible verses that helped guide his ministry. One was: “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6: 8. Pastor Mac knew what was good; he knew what the Lord required of him–he was just, he was kind, and he walked humbly with God. His strength was his faith. He truly believed “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles” Isaiah 40:31. The Lord gave him strength to do his work. But every servant deserves his break and his homecoming.
Another favorite verse was: “You are the light of the world. A city built on an hill cannot be hidden” Matthew 5:14. Pastor Mac was the light of the world for so many. He helped countless people through their darkest times. But he was just a guide. The light is still there; bigger and brighter than ever and it cannot be hid. The love and the light he showed his people was not his–he was just a messenger of Him he served. The hard part is finding the way without him. But he showed his people the way. And he made sure his people still have a guide.
Pastor Mac was still working into his seventies and refused to retire because he said there was still too much work to be done. Now it is up to those who remain. Remember: “He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat” (“Battle Hymn of the Republic”). Honor Pastor Mac by continuing his work and fighting for what is right.
Surviving are his wife and best friend, Carolyn; his son, Murdoch (Mac) and wife Jen; his son Stephen (Steve) and wife Megan; his daughter, Deborah (Debbie); his sister, Frances (Fran) Brown; his brother, Ian Thomas (Tom) MacPherson and wife Susan; and his grandchildren Andrew, Wyatt, and Wesley.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to Faith Lutheran Church to continue the many ministries that provide for those in need.