The board, staff, and faculty of ILT were shocked to learn of board member Dr. John Miller’s passing on May 1 of this year. The day he passed, he had intended to attend a meeting of ILT board members. So, when he did not join the meeting, and we learned of his passing, his absence was felt immediately. And as the ILT board met last week for its end of fiscal year meeting, the empty place at their table, made his absence all the more poignant.
Though Dr. Miller had been a member of the ILT Board of Directors for less than a year, his influence on – what would become – ILT began over 35 years ago. ILT President, SDSU alum, and retired SDSU faculty member, Dr. Dennis Bielfeldt recalls, “I met John Miller officially in the fall of 1977 when I walked into his office and said I wanted to take Philosophy of History from him. John was trained in empirical methods in doing history, and I hoped he could help me in my desire to know and understand the classical philosophy of history. John had me subscribe to a historical journal that I read throughout my years farming. I think it is fair to say that John’s nurturing and support helped make me that academic that I became, and thus indirectly helped shape ILT.”
A pastor’s kid, a committed ELCA church person and academic, Dr. Miller was a welcome addition to the ILT Board of Directors. His sense of tolerance, good judgment, and his reasonable sense not to acquiesce to hearsay, promised to make his an enduring contribution to the future of ILT, the North American Lutheran Tradition, and the future of the post-Christendom church. A promise that was sadly cut short.
Though his personal contribution to the future of ILT may have been cut short, the ideals that he brought to his involvement with ILT will endure. As the board, staff, and faculty of ILT continue on, we do so with a renewed commitment to the passion and ideals that brought Dr. Miller to join with us in this endeavor: to clearly understand where we come from and where we are going as a church, a culture, and a people; to empower upcoming generations – though our accredited associates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral programs – of ministers, leaders, and participants in our churches and communities; and to create a safe place where brothers and sisters in Christ can disagree agreeably, as we learn from our differences and grow closer together. This is the dream that formed ILT, a dream we shared with Dr. John Miller, a dream that will endure.
ILT remembers Dr. John Miller, and we thank God for his life.