It occurs to me that, given not all of you were on the call committee and/or saw my mobility papers, there are likely many of you out there who are a bit curious about what kind of weird duck it is that you have now called to become your pastor.  (Oh... and to those of you who do know me – please keep those stories to yourself… for a bit anyway!?!?) 

As it turns out, Regina has been my home before.  After wandering around a bit for the first 5 years of my life, our family moved to the city just in time for me to begin school here.  And here we stayed through my graduation from Sheldon Williams, over there on the west-ish side of town.  It was, in fact, during my high school years that I began to get more involved in church, youth & even Synod – actually deciding way back then that I could feel God calling me to become a pastor.  Over the next 8 years I attended university at the Univ. of Winnipeg & Univ. of Sask. (BA in English Lit.), worked as a synod youth worker(1 yr) and then finally completed my Masters Of Divinity at the Seminary In Saskatoon(1987).

So far my pastoral calls have taken me to Concordia in Churchbridge, Sask. (3 yrs), Trinity in Estevan (9 yrs), Hope in Calgary (12 yrs) & then back to Trinity in Estevan (for the last 6 years).  I should probably also add that along the way I have been married twice and sadly divorced twice (no kids of my own but two step-sons for a while).  During these years, I have also often served on a wide variety of Synod & National committees for the church, a bunch of community organizations, ran for city council in Estevan, became a member of the Order of St. Lazarus (ask me about this another time), sang in a bunch of different choirs, learned guitar (a bit) and pretended to be vaguely athletic in a few different ways (mostly curling & golf). To top it all off, I have twice walked across Spain completing the Camino de Santiago (by far one of THE most profound experiences of my life – be careful about asking me about this!?!).  Other hobbies include wood working (including twice building my dream garage/shop only to move soon after it was completed), fly fishing, writing, Scotch tasting, and, of course, traveling.

 As a pastor, it has always been my sense that a church is – in its best form – a community/family (both images work for me). Being part of which we are alternately held in great grace and love, while at the same time goaded and challenged to be more than we might otherwise selfishly allow ourselves to be.  It is community we come to to be fed & healed, but it is also the launching pad from which we move out into the world to be Christ to all those who also seek love & compassion.

Of all the things walking the Camino taught me, it is that, in various ways, the world is just as desperately searching for a source of grace and meaning as it ever has been.  Sadly though, given how poorly we acted over the years & the ways we have treated some people, our credibility as that source of love & compassion is sorely wounded.  And gone are the days when people will “automatically” come to us... eventually!!  But being out on “The Way” I discovered every single day that if we can find ways to once more put ourselves “out there”, where people are and can do so in a way that is truly open and caring, people do talk, do share and do listen.  It has been one of the greatest privileges and joys of my life to be a person people have trusted with their stories & their wounds while at the same time giving me space to share my brokenness with them.  I truly believe that if the church can learn to be open & “out there” in any way we can (as an idea AND as individuals) it will be the most important work/mission we can ever re-learn to undertake.

 Finally, let me also add that in the weeks and months ahead as we work to shoulder our ministry together, and as we get to know one another, there will undoubtedly be any number of things I say or ways I do things that will not only be different from other pastors you have had but maybe even downright mystifying (hopefully seldom offending!!).  Please know that whether it be a word I speak from the pulpit, or in my actions, or even an over-excited blurting out of something at a meeting, everything I say or do is meant to be the beginning of a conversation.  NEVER the last word.  If you have a question, please ask it.  If you are confused, please let me know I’m not making sense.  If you disagree with me, tell me (we can only learn to truly trust each other by sharing our disagreements as openly as we do our agreements).

Most of all let’s have fun.  Let’s see where God wants to take us.  And let’s discover what we can be with God empowering us.

 I look forward to meeting you all, sharing the walk with you, and working with you!!!

 Your new friend and co-worker for the Kingdom,

 Pastor Stewart Miller

 PS – VERY IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER/APOLOGY – while I may “kill” at Trivial Pursuit & a myriad of other useless information recall, for some reason I completely STINK at “the name thing”.  I will remember your story, remember your face but for some unknown reason NOT your name.  Let me apologize profusely in advance for the many times my mind will go thusly blank.  Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!  And Sorry!!!!