The son of a minister in the church of Christ, James DeForest Murch was born in Ohio, where he was educated in Ohio University and the University of Cincinnati. He was a national figure nearly all his adult life. His wide associations fit him particularly to write a history of the Christian churches and churches of Christ.
His range of service to Christian churches began with a ministry to the Observatory Hill church, Pittsburgh. With Standard Publishing in Cincinnati, he was editor of 'The Lookout.' A co-founder of the Cincinnati Bible Seminary, he served for a time as acting president and taught Christian education and missions there. He was a director of the Clark Fund, editor of 'Restoration Herald,' and president of the Christian Restoration Association.
Dr. Murch was a founder and director of the Disciples of Christ Historical Society. He was a co-founder of the North American Christian Convention and was a member of its Convention Committee. He was a member of the Commission on Restudy of Christian Churches. He was a founder and trustee of the Christian's Hour Broadcasting Association. As an elder in the Westwood-Cheviot Church of Christ in Cincinnati, he was Bible-school superintendent for seventeen years.
Beyond the fellowship of the Christian churches, he was editor of 'United Evangelical Action,' journal of the National Association of Evangelicals, of which he was a co-founder and in which he served on several committees. He was a founder, president, and director of the National Sunday School Association; of the National Association of Religious Broadcasters; and of the Evangelical Press Association. He was president of the Ohio State Christian Endeavor and a trustee of the International Society of Christian Endeavor. He was managing editor of 'Christianity Today.' He was a fellow of the International Institute of Arts and Letters.
His honorary doctorates were bestowed by Northwest Christian College and Milligan College. Dr. Murch was the author of 'Christian Education and the Local Church,' 'Co-operation Without Compromise' (a history of the N.A.E.), 'Teach Us to Pray,' 'Teach or Perish,' 'God Still Lives,' and numerous monographs and several hymns.