Author: Benner, Dick
Date published: January 9, 2012
"You were a new kind of 'migrant missionary' described in John Howard Yoder's As You Go" said Bert Lobe, in an evening of memories of Larry Miller at Rockway Mennonite Church, Kitchener, on Oct. 23, 2011. As the North American Mennonite World Conference (MWC) representative, who has worked closely with Miller over the years, Lobe offered some personal reminiscences:
* I heard you teach from I Peter at a three-day Mennonite Central Committee annual meeting in the late 1980s and I never forgot it. Superb not only for the insights, but for the way in which they were presented. I regret that the church benefited too little from your biblical scholarship and capacity to teach.
* You understand the church. You understand the early church and the experiment that it was - insiders and outsiders, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, suffering and justice, issues of morality and integrity and community - a fledgling people struggling to find its way after Jesus' departure and all of these challenges acknowledged and addressed in the epistles. And you understood long ago that MWC is itself just that kind of experiment, providing a space for the simplicity, poverty and vibrancy to engage wealth and sophistication. You helped nurture our communion to engage in a radical new kind of listening and sharing.
* Your "personal vision" from a March 7, 2006, speech in Pasadena, Calif, called for global deacons to nurture the church, to "see and respond to the needs of one another." What you understood very early on was that in the church we live by virtue of the gifts we exchange, that giftedness had nothing to do with geography or wealth, and everything to do with exchanging gifts, with mutual generosity.
* Your capacity to take us into the ecumenical world, to be in dialogue with the Catholic and Lutheran churches, . . . was suburb leadership, statesmanship.
* You reminded us often in the run-up to Assembly 15 in Paraguay that our focus and challenge was to "come together in the mind of Jesus Christ." You helped us understand that, as Joan Chittister [a Benedictine nun and author] and [Anglican] Archbishop Rowan Williams remind us, that "unity is more often about solidarity than uniformity. Unity is a commitment to becoming one people who speak in a thousand voices. Rather than one message repeated by a thousand voices, unity is one message shaped by a thousand minds."
BY DICK BENNER