In the first of our new reader profiles we meet Donald Miller who serves at St Andrew's Orford.
15 new readers were licensed at the Cathedral last week and some of them have kindly agreed to share their stories with us. This week we meet Donald Miller, who serves at Orford St Andrew.
Now retired, Donald previously travelled the world as a Marine Engineer Officer and for the last twenty five years worked as a senior prison officer in one of the UK’s largest young offenders’ institutions; he feels that his experience has certainly helped prepare him for his new role.
“Working with these young men and learning about their lives and experiences really opened my eyes to the issues facing our young people,” Donald said. “It also really brought home to me the words ‘there but for the grace of God go I’. I worked closely with the chaplaincy in the prison and saw how it helped these young men.” Donald is interested in young people’s ministry and wants to take this forward in his new role.
Donald went to church as a child but as a young man gradually fell out of attending. It was when he met his wife Dot, who went to church regularly and who is now also the Warrington Deanery Lay Chair that he started attending again. “It became less and less of a chore and instead I enjoyed being there and wanted to get involved with the life of the church.” Donald started the church website and writes occasional articles for the parish magazine. He is also PCC secretary and it was his vicar Father Michael Raynor who initially suggested that he think about becoming a reader.
“I had never thought about it before. I went away, prayed about it, discussed it with my wife and realised that this was for me. I had always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to do something in church, but I didn’t know what, and after attending a taster session I realised that being a reader was the right fit.”
Returning to education at the age of 60 was a big challenge for Donald, as he freely admits. “It was a very intensive course, and at times I struggled. But I took a lot away from it – I learned to analyse bible readings in depth and not just look at things on face value. Being accepted onto the course was a real high, but being licensed after all that work was even better.”
Donald’s understanding of the importance of readers also motivated him to complete the course. “It is vital that we get the Word of God to as many people as possible. Ministers these days are very busy and we don’t have as many of them so it is important that lay people take some of that responsibility, but it is also a privilege for the reader to serve their community in this way. I feel like I am living my dream in that respect.”
Donald is taking the lead in organising this year’s Harvest celebrations at St Andrews and is looking forward to the challenge. In keeping with his pledge to serve he is asking the congregation to choose the hymns “I am there to serve the people of St Andrew’s – it is just as much their church as it is mine and I am privileged to be in this position in such a friendly and welcoming church.”