Imagery of church-related people and places.

Deacon Ross Murray

Ministry setting


What brings you joy in your ministry?

I have joy when I see the impact of my ministry: a former LGBTQ camper who has grown up into a healthy, well-adjusted adult, with a mature life of faith. An advocate whose story makes people rethink their previously-held prejudices. People who have taken what I've been able to give, and turned it into something even better than I ever could have imagined.

Who inspires you in ministry or seminary?

I'm inspired by people who volunteer their time and efforts to ministries like The Naming Project. This is a labor of love for all of us, and we all bring a variety of gifts to make our LGBTQ youth ministry work. Some of those leaders are people who have no formal role in their congregation, but this is their ministry.

What are your interests outside of ministry?

I love to travel, and will often travel, both for work and for vacation.

Best meal you've ever eaten?

I'm grateful for every meal I get, but the ones eaten with loved ones are best.

Brief bio

"Ross Murray is the Senior Director of Education & Training at The GLAAD Media Institute, which provides activist, spokesperson, and media engagement training and education for LGBTQ and allied community members and organizations desiring to deepen their media impact. Ross uses the best practices perfected by GLAAD to train a new generation of advocates in order to accelerate acceptance for LGBTQ people, as well as other marginalized communities.

Ross has secured national media interest in stories that bring examples of LGBTQ equality across diverse communities in America. He specializes in relationship between religion and LGBTQ people. He has written and appeared on numerous media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, and Religion News Service. In 2014, he was named one of Mashable's ""10 LGBT-Rights Activists to Follow on Twitter.""

Ross is a consecrated Deacon in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, with a specific calling to advocate for LGBTQ people and to bridge the LGBTQ and faith communities. Originally from Littlefork, MN, Ross holds a BA in Youth & Family Ministry from Augsburg College,an MA in Outreach & Discipleship from Luther Seminary, an MBA from Augsburg College. He lives in New York City with his husband, Richard Garnett.

Ross is also a founder and director of The Naming Project, a faith-based camp for LGBTQ youth and their allies. He has worked with youth and families in rural parishes, camps, multicultural urban congregations, college campuses, and has presented models of youth & family ministry all over the country. Ross is responsible for communication, fundraising, and development of the programs of The Naming Project. Ross is especially interested in helping youth cultivate a holistic identity that includes sexuality and spirituality. The Naming Project has also been the subject of much media, including the award-winning film Camp Out, as well as the controversial episode ""Pray the Gay Away?"" of Our America with Lisa Ling."

Did you always want to be clergy?

I didn't want to be clergy, and I still don't. I am a Deacon, which is a ministry of Word and Service. When I entered seminary, I first enrolled in the MDiv program, but with no intention of wanting to be ordained. After talking with the seminary dean of students about my calling and hearing some wisdom from her, I changed to the MA program and did ministry as a proud lay person. After the ELCA dropped its ban on rostered leaders in same-sex relationships, I started the candidacy process (many years after finishing my degree), and got called to do LGBTQ advocacy at GLAAD.

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