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Rector's Reflections

Thoughts from our beloved former Rector
Rev. Eric L. Miller

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Fr. Eric: A Fond Farewell

Thank You, A&HT

I’ve put off writing this letter for as long as possible. I write with a heavy heart. After fourteen years of life-giving ministry with Ascension & Holy Trinity and the wider community, Rosemary and I prayerfully decided to come home to West Virginia. My time serving as rector is coming to an end. We have cherished being in ministry with you, and we will miss you!

For those newer to A&HT, we moved with our sons to Cincinnati when they were four and six years old. Lucas attended A&HT’s newly formed preschool in the 4-year-old class, and Nathaniel was a first-grader at Hilltop Elementary. Oh yeah, Rosemary and I were fourteen years younger, too. Today, Nathaniel has completed his sophomore year at “The” Ohio State University studying Mechanical Engineering; Lucas graduates from Wyoming High School at the end of May to attend The University of Cincinnati to study Cybersecurity Engineering this autumn.

We have loved our ministry with you and haven’t taken our discernment lightly. There are advantages to long rectorships of ten-plus years. We have built deep trust and relationships. I have been able to witness your/our children growing up. We have Baptized, Confirmed, officiated Holy Matrimony and the Burial Office, and offered prayers for Unction numerous times. You know relatively what to expect from me, and vice versa. Several years ago, we completed an awesome capital campaign.

The challenge with the long-term pastorate is that the rector can become stale. I have done my best to "recreate" myself multiple times by serving as Wyoming Fire Chaplain, studying to become a preaching mentor through Backstory Preaching, and taking a sabbatical. My chaplaincy with the fire department helped us become better connected with the community. My leadership and preaching skills grew during my preacher training and mentoring. My sabbatical reminded me that I am a beloved child of God, even outside of priestly ministry. This renewed understanding created a fresh start for our pastoral relationship.

I want you to know how incredible you are as a parish. I'm moving into a new ministry opportunity peacefully, knowing we did many heartfelt, meaningful ministries. You have been one of the most thoughtful parishes I have ever served. You cared for us when we grieved my father-in-law’s passing, multiple foot surgeries, a severe concussion, when I responded to George Floyd’s murder and the racial disparities of that particular time, and when we weathered the pandemic. I am proud to have served as your rector and grateful for the relationships we built and fostered.

A&HT is an amazing parish in the Diocese of Southern Ohio. I pray you aren’t dismayed by our discernment back home. You will find another rector to love you and walk beside you; you are incredibly easy to love! We have outstanding lay leadership at the parish, community, and diocesan levels. There will be a time of grieving for what was, and that is natural, but then move on with your next clergy leader. The longer-tenured through the shorter-tenured parishioners should request to join the search/discernment team for the next rector. Don’t shy away from serving on Vestry, either. The Vestry needs you. Remain engaged.

We raised our sons here at A&HT. Wyoming is where Nathaniel and Lucas will always consider home. The life lessons they learned here are largely through you, the loving and inclusive A&HT Episcopal Church. The principles of love in action, respecting the dignity of all, and courageously doing the right, loving thing are their standards because of you and your witness. We couldn’t have imagined a finer community to raise our boys!

Our final Sunday will be on June 23, before a week of vacation. In the meantime, I will continue serving and thanking you for our time together. Serving as your rector has been transformative and rewarding for all four members of my family!

I begin serving as rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Charleston, West Virginia, on August 1. Charleston is West Virginia’s capital city, 50 minutes from my mother-in-law and 1.5 hours from my parents. We’ll be three hours from Ohio State and the University of Cincinnati. We’re trading the banks of the Ohio River for the Kanawha River. This is an incredibly emotional time for us as we prepare to become empty nesters and simultaneously relocate back home closer to our parents, who are going through the aging process.

When we moved to 321 Worthington Ave. in August of 2010, Nathaniel wanted to know how long he needed to be a Mountaineer. He proudly informed me he had become a Buckeye. I responded that he was welcome to be a Buckeye and should feel that way, but that his mother and I would always be Mountaineers. West Virginia runs deep in our roots.

I am appreciative of all of your ministries, but I might not express my thanks often enough. A&HT, thank you for the love and compassion you’ve shared with my family for fourteen years. Thank you for your faithfulness to sharing the Gospel of Christ’s unconditional love for creation. Thank you for being so willing to have challenging conversations about racism. Thank you for believing in and embodying our mission to put God’s love into action in such a variety of ministries. Thank you for always striving to do the right, loving thing. Thank you for supporting this formerly young rector as I tried my best to faithfully lead us. Thank you for enabling me to be your leader by being willing followers of Jesus. Thank you for your willingness to disagree at times and to remain in communion with God and one another. Thank you for welcoming and including young and old alike. Thank you for being a beacon of inclusionary hope and for hanging in there with me during the pandemic. Thank you for everything!

In God’s Grace,
Eric L. Miller+

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