was Labor Day weekend and Miller was dressed up to go out on a date. He sat down in his living room for a few minutes and, while channel surfing, stopped on “The 700 Club,” a Christian ministry program.
On the show, a country music singer told her story of a downward spiral of drugs and poor decisions. “I thought she scripted my life,” Miller explained. “She said she gave her life over to the Lord and everything changed.”
He remembered next that the television host told viewers that, if they were inspired by the singer’s story, they should pray. Miller immediately did so. “I never went out that night,” he said. “I just sat on my recliner and read the King James Bible that I received at my first communion.”
He went on, “I did a lot of crying that night. I did repentance over the dumb, dumb things that I did in my life. In my ignorance, I said, ‘God, if you would forgive me, if you would accept me, let me serve you.”
Little by little, Miller stated, his desire to use drugs or to drink alcohol was lifted from him. “Something just came over me,” he said. “It was indescribable. I began to change from that day forward.”
He recalled himself driving, not long after that night of praying, with three cartons of cigarettes he’d just bought –one was for his office, one for home, and one for the car. He thought to himself, what would God think of me smoking and, after two puffs, put out the cigarette and asked God to give him the desire to smoke if it was his will. Miller never wanted another cigarette.
After Miller felt touched by God, he found himself pursuing more and more information on the scriptures. He would attend church, hanging on the pastor’s every word and still wanting more.
He decided to attend Elim Bible Institute in Lima, NY and around that time, he met Christine. On a similar journey, she was coming from a broken relationship and had established a new relationship with God.
Meanwhile, Miller learned that his church needed a new communications director. He took that job, but at the time was intent on doing ministry work in Africa, feeling like that was his calling.
In 1983, after finishing his education and becoming a fixture in his church, Miller married Christine. He had a child from a previous marriage and she had three, that he adopted, and later, the two had a child together. He committed to five years as communications director at the church and then he and Christine waited for the next sign from God.
Journey to Mountaintop
Intent still on going to Africa, with Christine on board with the idea, Miller said he learned to really listen to God and found that his purpose was to come to Mountaintop.
“The Lord more or less laid it in our lap,” he said of moving here. “We felt our purpose was to come here,” Christine added. “We never thought we’d be here 30 years.” It was 1987 and the small
congregation of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship had been looking for a pastor. They had no church, but were meeting as a prayer group in Wilkes-Barre and wanted a real home on the mountain.
The Millers came to Mountaintop and began leading worship in a small church on South Main Road. Many improvements needed to be made to the grounds and the family, their small children included, all pitched in. The congregation, as well, helped with a slew of renovations and additions to the church over the years as the number who came to worship kept growing, up to 130 each week.
“In 1994, we experienced something of the Holy Spirit,” Miller said. “We just became even more vibrant in our worship. We needed more room.”
An architect was hired, land was bought, and the construction of the church’s current location began, on Church Road in Rice Township. With much love and care, the land, used for years as a family farm, turned into a new place to congregate. Once again, all of Cornerstone’s churchgoers pitched in, building a pole barn, youth center, pavilion, and the church.
“They’ve been so supportive of us,” Christine said of the congregation. “And the people here have always worked. We have someone who cleans, one who prepares meals. It’s always been a working congregation…We’re such a close family and they’ve all been so supportive of us.”
Continuing to grow in size, Cornerstone will eventually need a bigger church, to be constructed on the land, the pastor said. This is an endeavor that the new minister will undertake. “The next person will pick up the same vision that God gave us,” Miller said. “God will take what he put on our hearts and put it on his.”
His decision to retire wasn’t an easy one, Miller related, but, at age 70, he decided it was time to pass the responsibilities onto someone new. Of leaving his congregation, he commented, “We will miss them terribly. Some of them have been here as long as we have. But, it’s time for us to go. Even though we still have many gifts, we feel that the church needs fresh leadership.”
Miller is enthusiastic about the new pastor, Michael Pickreign, who is moving here from New York state and will start on Feb. 19. “He and his wife are just so giving. We have so much confidence in them,” Miller said, adding, “And now it’s time for us to move on. God’s been good to us. We’re excited to see what he has in store.”