by Drew Page
Pastor Bruce Miller
First Congregational Church of Meriden
MERIDEN (10/10/2012) - Second careers in ministry are common among clergy. Often it takes years of personal exploring to finally hear God's call. For Pastor Bruce Miller of First Congregational Church of Meriden, the call to clergy was more like an evolution of one career to the next. His long tenure as an administrator for a community organization helped shape a second calling in ministry to that community.
Bruce Miller spent 29 years in the YMCA organization, working in several capacities until ultimately becoming the executive director. During his career he was also a regular parishioner at Center Church in Meriden. Miller was the Christian Education Director for 8 years. Several times when the regular pastor was away, Miller gave the Sunday sermon. After his first sermon, one that included helium-filled balloons that were released in the sanctuary —falling a few evenings later and setting off motion detectors— Miller felt a relationship to people that was unique to ministry.
"You can connect with people," said Miller, "bring them closer in community and with God."
In 2006, Miller retired from the YMCA and entered Hartford Seminary. In June of 2012, Miller was called to the First Congregational Church of Meriden. Here, Pastor Bruce began truly blending his skills for administration, and being what he calls "a conduit for God."
An occasional series welcoming those new to serving in the Connecticut Conference UCC.
"People were ready to understand that we needed to do things differently," said Miller when asked how these initiatives were progressing. Of course, there is anxiety along with excitement, but Pastor Bruce has also led the congregation to engage in prayerful discernment of these initiatives. Here is where 29 years as an administrator and a passion for ministry have worked well together. Though Miller was instrumental in bringing the group together and leading them through this strategic process, he was able to guide the congregation toward a hands-on approach to its own development. In just a few months, Miller has seen the lay leadership take the initiative to implement the plan themselves while recruiting more active personnel from the broader congregation as First Congregational Church of Meriden becomes a more significant part of its community.
Drew Page is Media Assistant for the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ.