A Letter from the Rector
Dear Friends of the Redeemer,
Over twenty years ago, the Reverend Richard Downes welcomed a young, energetic and wonderfully talented musician into the life of Church of the Redeemer. Since those early days, Michael Murray has brought artistry, passion, and a strong pastoral instinct to his ministry of music building a choral music program of blessing and renown.
Yesterday, Michael informed me that his husband Dr. Stuart Forster was hired as Associate for Music and Liturgy by The Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach, Florida. While Stuart will take up his new duties in Florida on September 1st, Michael will conclude his ministry at the Redeemer on Sunday, December 27, 2020.
For two decades Michael has been at the heart of Redeemer’s Sunday mornings. His liturgical musicianship, consummate showmanship, and dedicated companionship have consoled us in our grief, transported us in our prayers and accompanied us in our joy. He and Stuart will be sorely missed.
Over the next weeks a search process and committee will be assembled to take advantage of Michael’s presence with us for the next months. Michael's ministry has ensured that candidates of superb quality will seek out the Redeemer to build upon the foundations that he has laid. We will find the right moments and means to celebrate Michael’s life-giving ministry among us.
A Letter from the Director of Music
Almost twenty years ago, as a young musician, I walked through those magnificent tower doors to experience Henry Vaughan’s resplendent architecture that we call ‘our church’.
Yesterday, after much heart-ache and gut-wrenching contemplation, I telephoned Fr. Mike to inform him that as a result of our discernment with the Church of Bethesda-by-the-sea in Palm Beach, FL, where Stuart will take up a new position in September, that I would resign my position at Redeemer to move there, be supportive to him, and look for my next calling. Whilst Stuart will begin in Palm Beach in September, I will stay at Redeemer through the end of the calendar year, so that we may share one last Christmas together.
This was a decision that was immeasurably difficult to make — Stuart and I have served this diocese for more than 40 years collectively. A nice moment, a couple of years ago, was when I realised I was now the Redeemer’s longest serving liturgical professional (longer even than any of her clergy). Our tenures at both Christ Church, Cambridge, and the Redeemer have been long, and at times challenging, but above all so very fruitful. We are so fortunate to have had such supportive and wonderful parishes in which to share our ministries.
Our Redeemer family is of boundless importance to us, not only professionally, but personally. Together, we have been there in our joys, our losses, and our everydays. Our music has seen you and yours married, buried, baptised, comforted, and, hopefully, inspired. We have shared thousands of hymns, anthems, meals, conversations, and, goodness knows, copious amounts of wine. We have seen that most momentous of occasions — the installation of a truly splendid new organ — something that will surely stand as the apex of my career. What a mountain of memories we have made together!
I cannot thank you enough for welcoming this rambunctious (then) young organist into the Redeemer family. This is not goodbye, but merely the next chapter in our greater relationship.
I remain eternally grateful for your faith in that young whippersnapper who arrived two decades ago, but more importantly, for your friendship and your many kindnesses. I look forward to the next few months when we will get to say our farewells, and, hopefully, share a hug.
With deep affection, and admiration,
-Michael (and his ruby slippers)