2011-11-18 / News

Lutheran Seminary president to retire

By Jackie Perrone

Dr. Marcus Miller Dr. Marcus Miller Dr. Marcus Miller describes himself as “a doer, not a writer.” Others call him a people person, who enjoys interaction with the people around him while pursuing academic goals.

This Lutheran dignitary has announced his decision to retire from his post as president of the Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary next summer. This will mark the culmination of a career serving his church and his fellow Christians in Ohio and New York and Columbia S.C. for six years ago.

When he accepted the call to Columbia in 2006, Dr. Miller was concluding a decade as bishop of the Northeastern Ohio Synod. Prior to that time, he pastored two congregations and taught religion and German at college and high school in both those states.

In addition, Dr. Miller has participated in a variety of ecumenical conferences in the U. S. and several countries of Europe. He has served on boards for Trinity Seminary and Wittenberg University and chaired the Board of the Pastoral Psychology Institute, Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.

His education includes degrees from Concordia Senior College in Fort Wayne, Indiana; Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, and New York Theological Seminary.

His new position in the South was a new adventure for him.

“Some of the things I encountered upon arriving here were not exactly surprises, but maybe new to me,” he says. “ The students and faculty here at Lutheran Seminary are just great; they are the best part of my work. I knew ahead of time that would be the case.

“ Not so rewarding have been the financial challenges which hit us with the arrival of the recession. I came in 2006, and not long after that the financial situation began to spiral down. It was hard for everybody. Our donors who have been generous and dedicated had to cut back on giving. Our students had more problems than ever facing the bills. We always try to keep the tuition reasonable so that worthy students are able to come here. All of this meant that my focus was diverted from the students to the demands of budgets and income.”

Dr. Miller praises the Development Office at the Seminary for its diligent work, helping surmount the difficulties and ride out the storm. Together they hope the worst is behind.

A crucial turning point is taking place just as Dr. Marcus Miller leaves his post. Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary recently announced a partnership with Lenoir- Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina. This Seminary is not leaving Columbia but will become the school of theology for that other Lutheran institution. The merger is expected to provide benefits for both parties, reducing administrative costs, widening reach and availability, and a larger platform which will enable each to explore new directions. The merger is to be completed in the summer of 2012.

“ The electronic age is making things possible which we could not have done in the past," says Dr. Miller. “ We can access each other’s resources and provide learning on both sites.” Dr. Miller likes to emphasize the ecumenical and international reaches of the seminary. Curricula for Methodist and Baptist studies have been developed, and the student body includes widely diverse students from Europe, Africa, India, and South America.

These students come here to earn their education and to return to their native countries as leaders. During the present difficult time, visas are harder to get than they used to be, and we are trying to assist with that process as well as add more language instruction for foreigners.”

Dr. Miller believes this seminary is ready for new leadership, and he is looking forward to his retirement. He and his wife Kathy plan to move to Charlotte, North Carolina, a bit closer to Ohio where their adult children live. Their daughter Jennifer Erickson teaches school and has two children; their son Joshua is a pastor in Cincinnati and has three children. “A little closer to the family, but not yet into the snow,” he says. The couple also plans to do more traveling, also.

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