Lee M. Miller II knows well what it’s like to begin a long-lasting journey. A three-time marathoner, Miller has called himself “a slow runner, and I finish in the back of the pack.” But, he said, “it’s not the finish, as writer John Bingham says, it’s ‘having the courage to start.’”
When he was installed Sept. 18 to serve as bishop of the Upstate New York Synod of the ELCA, Miller started a significant new journey. His installation “provided a spiritual wave of energy in affirmation,” he said. “It was a powerful moment to again receive a call through the laying on of hands. I am deeply humbled and grateful for the privilege, a bit terrified, but growing in the excitement of what the Holy Spirit is doing in our midst.”
Miller was elected on June 5 to serve a six-year term as the fifth bishop of the Upstate New York Synod. He succeeds John S. Macholz and is the son of former synod bishop Lee Miller.
Prior to his installation, Miller served as pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Buffalo, N.Y., for nine years, connecting the congregation to the community through local and global partnerships, accompaniment work in racial justice and support of local schools and organizations. Previously he was called to St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Philadelphia and Christus Lutheran Church in Camden, N.J.
“It’s not the finish, it’s having the courage to start.”
Miller also served as dean of the Niagara Frontier Conference, composed of 53 congregations and partner agencies in the region, and sits on the boards of the advocacy group VOICE Buffalo and the Niagara Lutheran Health System. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree at United Lutheran Seminary.
After taking office, Miller shared with synod staff five discipleship practices known as the GRACE mindset (generous love, restorative justice, adaptive leadership, collaboration and experimentation), along with three directives focusing their work. To encourage these practices throughout the synod, staff, deans and council members have committed to building intentional collaboration, inviting communication and inspiring innovation.
“Together, we dream of a church where the transformational love of God activates us in the world to do justice and share joy,” he said.
Like marathon-running, Miller’s ministry stresses collaboration toward a shared goal. “Running a marathon is not a solo, or personal, event,” he said. “I’m grateful to have the time and ability to take each step.”