About General Overseer Billy D. Murray, Sr.

Billy Dwayne Murray Sr. was born in Nash County, North Carolina, on April 8, 1930. He began his ministry in 1950 and had served the Church in many capacities at the local, state, and international levels. He was Assistant Editor for the Church’s official publication, the White Wing Messenger, for twelve years and assisted with the writing needs of General Overseer M. A. Tomlinson under whom he served. At the time of his selection as Tomlinson’s replacement on May 2, 1990, he was serving as overseer of Illinois.

Murray was one who for several years had consistently focused his Assembly messages on Christ’s power to draw people to Himself and thus closer to each other in true biblical unity. He had spoken less of the Church as a gathering place and more of Christ as the person to whom and in whom we gather.

From the beginning of his term as general overseer, Murray maintained that “Christ is the message; the church is the messenger.” This change of focus and his passionate plea for the salvation of the lost (a response to the 1984 call to repentance) resulted in the 1994 launch of what would become the Church’s twenty-first century paradigm, “Turning to the Harvest.” This accelerated Gospel thrust continues to draw the Church into its orbit and to present leadership with lively challenges and some tough choices regarding long-standing administrative practices and even some doctrinal applications. In the meantime, however, the Church continued her growth and expansion, especially into the two-thirds world.

When Murray retired from his ten-year term as General Overseer at the 2000 Assembly, the Church’s 1990 membership of almost 262,000 had more than doubled to 546,000, a remarkable achievement. The financial outlook was better, and “vibrant local churches” were appearing on the horizon. The historic primacy of the local church was restored, and the pastoral office gained in stature and respect. Harvesting (and the real challenges it implies) became the Church’s primary focus. General Presbyters were in place and functioning in their new roles. In general, younger leadership was at the helm at the international level. The Church’s legacy of women in ministry continued and was greatly enhanced. The new direction was set, and signals of the way forward were beginning to appear.

Murray’s closing Address treated the subjects of Repentance, Integrity, Great Fellowship, God’s Primary Institution (the family), Pentecostal Power, and Unprecedented Praying—Unprecedented Growth. He appealed passionately to all local churches to “give a mighty effort to this ongoing harvest endeavor.” “I come to the close of my tenure as General Overseer,” he said, “at a time of great growth in the church. For this, we give praise to the Lord. The future looks bright as we continue to advance on every front. God has given us new leadership for moving forward in the power of the Spirit.” Billy D. Murray passed away December 8, 2004.

Turning to the Harvest

Watch General Overseer Billy D. Murray, Sr. as he delivers his historic annual address, Turning to the Harvest, to the 88th General Assembly of the Church of God of Prophecy on July 11, 1994.

About the Scholarship

The Billy D. Murray Harvest Scholarship is awarded to a student who is interested in or has served in significant outreach or evangelism efforts. The applicant is required to be a member of the Church of God of Prophecy who desires to prepare for full-time Christian ministry. The applicant must hold ministerial credentials with the Church of God of Prophecy, be in the process of securing such credentials, or commit to begin the process during that term. Recipient will receive a scholarship in the amount of $4,000 for the academic year in which the scholarship is awarded. Additional information may be requested once scholarship application is submitted.