Calvin Miller dies at 75

Calvin Miller, renowned author and founding pastor of Westside Church, Omaha, Neb., died on Sunday, Aug. 19, of complications from open-heart surgery.

The funeral was held Wednesday morning, Aug. 22, at North Park Baptist Church in Trussville, Ala.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara Miller; a daughter, Melanie Sloger and her husband, Louie; a son, Timothy Miller; four sisters; and two grandsons, Jared and Andrew Sloger.

Jefferson Memorial Funeral Home in Trussville, Ala., is in charge of arrangements.

Miller was born in Enid, Okla. He graduated from Enid High School and attended Oklahoma Baptist University, graduating with a B.S. degree in 1958. He attended Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, graduating with a master of divinity degree in 1961 and a doctor of ministry degree in 1975.

In 1959 he married Barbara Joyce Harman.

His first full-time pastorate was Plattsmouth Baptist Church, Plattsmouth, Neb., 1961-1966. He went to Westside Church, Omaha, Neb., in January 1966, where he served as senior pastor for 25 years. During his pastorate the congregation grew from 10 members to more than 2,500 members.

From 1991-1998, Miller served as professor of communication and ministry studies and writer-in-residence at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.

In January 1999 he joined the faculty of Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Ala., where he was professor of preaching and pastoral ministry.

He was the author of more than 40 books of popular theology and inspiration.

Here are some tributes to Miller:

Bob Mills, KNCSB executive director:
“Calvin Miller had the brightest most creative and innovative mind I have ever encountered. I am convinced Calvin was able to see things long before anyone else. Those who knew him were blessed.”

John Mark Hansen, urban strategist for Eastern Nebraska Baptist Association:
“I first heard Calvin at UNL [University of Nebraska, Lincoln] in the fall of 1979—a powerful storyteller of God’s truth. Cheryl and I had the privilege of ‘studying’ evangelism outreach under him during the weekly visitation night at Westside when we furloughed there in 90-91. We are back in Omaha doing church planting, much of it on the back of Calvin’s great ministry. What a privilege to have known him.”

Brett Yohn, campus minister at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln:
“Calvin Miller went home to be with the Lord this afternoon. On campus a freshman girl shared her sadness since Calvin married her parents at Westside when he was pastor there. We prayed for comfort for Barb and the family.”

John Mark Clifton, KNCSB church-planting consultant and lead pastor of Wornall Road Baptist Church, Kansas City, Mo.:
“Twenty-two years ago Calvin Miller encouraged me as new state missions leader in Kansas-Nebraska. I recall how he invited me first to his office after Sunday night worship and then to his home that evening. He always made time. He always was learning and always wanted to invest in the next generation. That was formative in my life and motivates me today. He was an original. He fit no simple category, more than a [church] planter but a great one. More than a preacher, but a great one. More than an artist with paint and words, but a great one. More than a than a mega church pastor (in a context and time when mega churches were indeed rare) but a great one. More than a teacher, but a great one. More than a dreamer and visionary, but a great one. A real inspiration to me.

Joe McKeever, renowned blogger, Christian cartoonist and retired director of missions in New Orleans:
“Lord, thank you for the life and ministry of Calvin Miller. He was truly an original. Because of his preaching, his writings, his poetry, his art, his classroom teaching, his gifts, and his one-on-one friendship, millions of people have found the way brighter, the ministry sweeter, and Jesus dearer. We pray Heaven’s comfort and Thy joy upon his dear wife and loved ones. None of us can pick up the slack left by his departure, but we promise to try to be faithful with our gifts and Thy calling.”