Eric L. Murray - Co-Lead Pastor
Pastor Eric Murray is currently the parish pastor serving with Shades Valley Lutheran Church in Birmingham, Alabama, whose mission is to “live life in Christ by growing in Communion with God, cultivating caring Community, and acting with Compassion for the world.”
Pastor Murray joins God and Shades Valley in this mission by sharing God’s grace and love for all people without exception, breaking down walls that divide, rejecting the image of a wrathful God, pointing to God’s presence in the midst of our daily lives, curating faithful liturgies, and creating opportunities for table fellowship and authentic community.
In service to this mission, Pastor Murray uses his spiritual gifts of hospitality, community-
building, leadership, communication, creativity and prophetic preaching. Previously he served as chairperson of our ELCA-Southeastern Synod’s Worship Team. He also finds vitality and renewal through choosing joy, regular exercise, theological reflection, life-long learning, and conversation with others over a cup of coffee or a pint of beer!
Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Pastor Murray is a 1988 graduate of Georgia State University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Physical Therapy. Following graduation and licensing, Pastor Murray began working as a physical therapist with the Patricia Neal Rehab Center and Fort Sanders Medical Center in Knoxville, TN. Within three years Pastor Murray began to sense again God’s call to pastoral ministry. As a child of our ELCA-Southeastern Synod and beneficiary of our Synod’s excellent youth ministry efforts, Pastor Murray had often wrestled with his sense of call. Thus in 1991 desiring clarity and with a sense of adventure Pastor Murray entered candidacy and the Master of Divinity degree program at the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (LTSS) in Columbia, SC.
Graduating LTSS in 1995, Pastor Murray has served as Pastor with Mt. Zion-St. Luke, Oglethorpe, Georgia (1995-1998); Pastor of Discipleship with Christ the King, Peachtree Corners, Georgia (1999 – 2004); Senior Pastor with Messiah, Knoxville, Tennessee (2004-2018), and Parish Pastor with Shades Valley, Birmingham, Alabama (2018-present).
Married since January 2018, Pastor Murray & Pastor Farrington (along with Amanda Cat) make their home in the SOHO neighborhood of Homewood (Birmingham), Alabama. Together they are finishing up their first year in the Living School, a two-year, in-depth spiritual formation program with Father Richard Rohr and the Center for Action & Contemplation. When not reading for the Living School or talking theology, Pastor Murray and Pastor Farrington enjoy entertaining guests, cooking, reading, exercise (walking, running, yoga, and HIIT-style workouts) and watching movies.