Feminism, sacred dance, and ecology are among the passions pursued by Reverend Gwyneth Murphy, the new interim priest for St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church, the A-frame on Route 212 just east of Woodstock. She comes to her post from New Paltz, where she was the vicar of St. Andrew’s as well as the first Episcopal Campus Chaplain at SUNY New Paltz. Students called her “Rev G.”
Murphy arrived in Woodstock in May to fill the vacancy left by the Reverend Gigi Conner, who served St. Gregory’s for three years and has now relocated to Florida. With a divinity degree from Harvard and a law degree from Fordham, the 58-year-old Murphy was the first teacher of feminist theology at two Utah colleges.
She hopes to build on her recent work at SUNY and expand St. Gregory’s outreach to young adults in the Woodstock area. “I believe that we really need to listen to and learn from our young adults,” she remarked.
She also wants to continue the church’s tradition of engagement with the community. “We invite people of all faiths and beliefs to join us for events that may involve food, fellowship, scripture study, the arts,” Murphy noted. The church has been opened for public performances on many occasions, including use by Performing Arts of Woodstock last year when its Town Hall digs were under renovation. The handsome gardens and labyrinth behind the church building are open to the public for contemplation and renewal.
“I want to spread the news that Christianity is a source for good and a source for justice in our society,” declared Murphy.
Within the church, she said, “I intend to support the congregation as they do their own self-study on St. Gregory’s priorities and the kind of church leader they’d like going forward. And I want to be a resource for people looking to find meaning in their lives.”
Murphy, who grew up in a Catholic family in Westchester County, said she was “immediately caught up” by St. Gregory’s when she visited for the first time earlier in the year. “When you come to St. Gregory’s, you experience community. This church is warm, friendly and welcoming. It shares in times of celebration and times of sorrow. In times of need, the St. Gregory’s community is there to support you in prayer and in friendship.”