Pastor Michael Murphy of Lansing, Michigan, Mourned After Collapsing and Dying While Preparing Sunday Sermon

The Rev. Michael Murphy. (Photo: Courtesy photo)
The Rev. Michael Murphy.
(Photo: Courtesy photo)

The Rev. Michael Murphy, a longtime leader in Lansing’s black community who served in the state Legislature and on the Lansing City Council, died this morning in Washington, D.C.

Murphy collapsed while preparing his sermon at People’s Congregational United Church of Christ, longtime friend Barbara Roberts Mason said. He was rushed to a hospital but could not be revived, she said.

A woman who answered the phone at the church confirmed that Murphy has died.

Murphy, who was in his 60s, founded St. Stephen’s Community Church in Lansing in 1987 and was pastor there until becoming senior minister at the historic People’s UCC Church in the nation’s capitol in early 2009.

“He worked hard to get his message across,” said Mason, who founded the Black Child and Family Institute and worked on several projects with Murphy over the years. “He was very active in civil rights. He just cared about people. He called himself a pastor-preacher. He preached the word, but he lived it, in essence.”

Murphy served on the Lansing City Council before being elected to the state Legislature in 2000, where he served three terms.

While in the Legislature, he sponsored the Jasmine Miles School Children Safety Act, named for a Waverly student who was killed while walking home from school in 2003.

Murphy later worked with state transportation officials to create safer walking routes for school children.

He also co-founded the Capital City African American Parade and Family Heritage Festival. Mason said he also was engaged in Ghana’s Akuapim South District, one of Lansing’s sister cities, where their respective churches helped build a clinic.

“He impacted so many people,” Mason said. “His title was the Rev. Dr. Michael Murphy, but people called him Mike. He never went for titles. People cared for him like a father, brother or an uncle. He just had that kind of temperament or personality.”

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SOURCE: Lansing State Journal
Ken Palmer