John Murray, Lead Pastor & Co-Founder:
John Murray, an Ithaca resident since arriving at Cornell University from Greensburg, Pennsylvania in 1974, met Lansing native Kathy Ellis at The Love Inn, a counter cultural church, in the spring of 1978. Three years later, in June of 1981, the two were married at the same place they met, The Love Inn.
John completed his Master’s Degree in Exercise Science at Ithaca College in 1984 while serving as the head wrestling coach on South Hill from 1980 to 1995. He used his college coaching success (3 NCAA Division III National Wrestling Championships) to help start a successful business in his basement selling commercial exercise equipment in the fall of 1987. Twenty-eight years later, Advantage Sport & Fitness continues to design and equip exercise environments in diverse settings (clubs, colleges, apartments, hotels, corporations, etc.) across nine states (NY, PA, VA, WV, NC, SC, AL, GA & FL) on the east coast of the United States, and is known today as one of the most successful fitness equipment distributors in North America. Murray is currently bi-vocational serving both as the Lead Pastor at Catalyst Vineyard Church and as the CEO and co-owner of Advantage Sport & Fitness.
Kathy Murray, Co-Founder:
Kathy was a stay-at-home mom for six years and later returned to school to earn a bachelor’s degree in English Education from Ithaca College (1994) and a Master’s Degree in Education from Binghamton University (1996). She has spent the last 18 years as a teacher in the Ithaca City School District, where she currently teaches English and Remedial Reading at DeWitt Middle School.
She has a strong background in dance, and in addition to a brief professional career, participated in a dance troop in the late 1970s and 1980s at The Love Inn church where she and John originally met. Kathy has recently served as a choreographer for school plays and performances at Dewitt Middle School. She is a graduate of the Vineyard Leadership Institute and has participated along with John in various Vineyard Church Planting Boot Camps and Roundtables.
John & Kathy have raised three daughters (Candace and Christine, identical twins, and Caitlin). Candace Murray and Christine Watson both have undergraduate degrees in Hospitality from the University of Central Florida, while Caitlin Murray has an undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Candace, who worked for Hilton Corporation for seven years, is currently a sales representative for Advantage Sport & Fitness and lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Christine, married to Brian Watson, is a corporate sales manager for Hyatt Corporation at the Grande Hyatt Tampa Bay, and resides in St. Petersburg, Florida.