Join us in honoring Bob Miller, longtime pastor, who retired in January.
Congratulations, Bob and Ruth! Your faithful service and love for Jesus’ church demonstrates your generous and kind hearts. We are very grateful to you both.
Cards may be sent to:
538 River Crest Way
Helena, AL 35080
We asked Bob and Ruth to share their reflections.
I began listening to the World Tomorrow radio program when I was 14. As a teenager, life was confusing, and I was attracted to the dogmatism and legalism of what I was hearing. At age 16, I began attending the Radio Church of God’s “local” church – over an hour away in Pittsburgh, PA. The pastor was Jimmy Friddle. I consider him my “father in the faith.” I was immediately taken in by so many wonderful folks who made me feel so welcomed and loved.
I attended Ambassador College in Big Sandy after high school, graduating in 1969. Those were some of the best four years I have ever spent in my life. Even though our theology was flawed, I learned a lot of valuable lessons and was exposed to the Bible in ways I never would have. It was just part of my spiritual journey. Following graduation, I served as a ministerial trainee for about a year and then moved on to work five years at a USS subsidiary outside Akron, Ohio. In 1974, I met my future wife, Ruth Black, at Big Sandy. I was there to see my younger brother graduate. Still living in Akron at the time, I was getting restless and tired of Data Processing. I travelled some and ended up in Pasadena looking for work.
I was hired by the WCG’s Home Office and worked nearly 12 years – first in the Postal Department and then Publishing. I was an International Coordinator for The Plain Truth, but my primary job was coordinating the printing for many of the foreign language versions of the many booklets produced by the church. I also was involved in the printing of Herbert Armstrong’s books. In 1988, I was ordained an elder and in 1989, we had the opportunity to move to Birmingham, Alabama, as an assistant pastor. Moving across country with three small children was certainly a leap of faith, but we were warmly received by the members and began a new chapter in our lives.
I never aspired to be an elder, much less a pastor, and often felt like Jonah. I was eventually made an associate pastor and ordained a preaching elder. Little did I know the challenges that I would face after five years in Birmingham. When the changes came, I became the pastor for Birmingham and Jasper, Alabama. At one time, I was pastoring four congregations: Birmingham, Jasper, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Columbus, Mississippi. Hokes Bluff, Alabama is another church I pastored.
One of the most rewarding times in ministry came in fairly recent years. Our small congregation in Birmingham began to provide worship services for Aspire Physical Recovery Center in Hoover. That meant our attendance basically doubled, as we served the residents and guests at Aspire. They came from a variety of denominations, but we all worshipped together in peace and harmony. When COVID hit, we were no longer able to go into Aspire. So, we began having Zoom Bible studies.
About a year prior to my retirement, we began having House Church at our home, and that was also a very rewarding experience. We actually had new folks visit during this time. We loved the intimate setting, and we often had meals together following our worship service. We got to know each other on a much more intimate level.
I love our denomination. The friendships made will be long-lasting—so many precious memories over the years. We are planning to attend worship services at the church where Ruth has been employed for almost 25 years, Saint Mark United Methodist Church. Due to severe scoliosis/spinal stenosis and arthritis, my mobility is somewhat limited now. Whether or not I will see any improvement is uncertain. But I feel that my primary role in the body of Christ now will be to try and encourage others along the journey.
When Bob and I were married and living in California, we would never have imagined leaving headquarters and going out into the “field.” Bob was working in Publishing, and I had just been hired in Mail Processing. Our children would all have been at Imperial Schools that fall, and I could begin working part-time. In July that year, 1989, we had taken a visit back to South Carolina to see my family. It was hot and humid, and when we returned, someone asked about our trip. I said it was fine, but I never wanted to live in that part of the country again! Wouldn’t you know it? That next week we got notice that we would be going to Birmingham, Alabama.
So back to the hot and humid South we went! At the time, we were told we would likely be there for three to five years. We’re still here more than 33 years later! But what a marvelous opportunity to serve God’s people for all those years! Following the changes, I began a women’s discipleship class as we navigated all of the doctrinal changes. I found that studying the book of Acts was extremely helpful. Eventually, I began giving sermons on occasion.
About 25 years ago, I began working at Saint Mark United Methodist Church. All that we were learning made working there a wonderful experience. I found that my work as a pastor’s wife equipped me well for the many roles I fill at Saint Mark. While my primary job is managing the church office, I have also taught Bible studies, helped plan weddings and funerals, assisted the pastors with their work, managed church publications, and helped in many other ways. Everything I did previously helped prepare me to serve both our local congregations and the amazing Saint Mark church family.
My plans are to continue working at Saint Mark for the foreseeable future. Bob’s limited mobility means that we won’t be doing a lot of traveling, but we hope to be able to have a ministry of encouragement for all those we can continue to serve. I see Bob transitioning into lots of “online” activity – connecting with many old friends and making new ones via Facebook and email exchanges. We love our time together at home, reading inspiring books together, and continuing to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior.