As a junior in high school, Glenn Miller ’80 visited Winchester to attend a summer program at Shenandoah University. Little did he know that four weeks one summer would lead to four years at a place that changed his entire life.
“By the time I got halfway through Shenandoah, I went from preparing to be a professional musician to preparing for seminary and the ordained ministry,” Miller said. “The path was twisted and turned, but Shenandoah and its influence will always be the key watershed moment.”
After receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1980, Miller attended Philadelphia and Gettysburg Lutheran Seminaries, graduating in 1986. He was ordained into the Lutheran Church of America and served as a parish pastor for 17 years. Following his last parish, he was called as Vice President for Development of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia and to Carthage College in Wisconsin as Vice President for College and Church Relations. In these fundraising roles, Miller oversaw development, communications, all external relations, and at Carthage, also oversaw the chapel and religious life.
“My time at Carthage was a terrific experience,” Miller said. “But I found that my heart really was back home in the east.”
In 2011, he accepted a call to serve as Vice President for Philanthropy and President of the Foundation of Lutheran Social Services (LSS), headquartered in York, Pa.
“It may sound crazy to some people, but there’s hardly anything I can think of that’s more satisfying than helping to raise the resources for a cause you passionately believe in,” Miller mentioned.
When looking back at his decision to serve the church and how his life brought him to where he is today, the thread running through it all, Miller says, is being “called.”
“The church’s language of being called to a vocation is at the heart of my self-understanding. I felt called to ordained ministry as early as the eighth grade,” he commented. “That was rekindled at Shenandoah, and led to 17 happy years in parish ministry. Since then, the focus has shifted from parish to institutional settings. But it’s the same underlying call to ministry that has driven it all.”
The support Miller had from Shenandoah as he was making his decision to go to seminary was tremendous. He gives particular credit to The Rev. Dr. Diedra and Dr. Jim Kriewald, both of whom saw gifts in him that he didn’t see at first, and who encouraged those gifts in a way that was life changing.
“Shenandoah was the perfect choice for me,” Miller said. “Small enough to be comfortable and nurturing; large enough to provide the quality and resources needed for an outstanding education.”
Looking back, Miller remembers other important relationships that have endured. Kirk Smith ’80 and Miller went to the summer program together during their junior year of high school. Nearly 40 years later, they are still friends and serve on the Alumni Board of Directors together.
Now that Miller has moved back to the East Coast, he finds that it’s the perfect time to give back and reconnect with a cherished institution.
Miller and his wife, Carol, have two children. Their son, Jason, is pursuing a degree in Psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia. Their daughter, Sarah, recently graduated from Wellesley College in Massachusetts and is now pursuing a graduate degree at Harvard.