Former Alabama Bishop Robert O. Miller dies at 74

July 1, 2009

The Rt. Rev. Robert .O. Miller, ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, died June 29 at Trinity Medical Center in Birmingham. He was 74.

Miller served as bishop of Alabama from 1989 until his retirement in 1998. His ordained ministry spanned almost half a century.

Miller had reportedly undergone heart-bypass surgery, but "his condition had worsened in the past several days, and he was returned to cardiac intensive care where he died," said incumbent Alabama bishop, the Rt. Rev. Henry N. Parsley Jr.

"Bishop Miller was a much beloved bishop in our diocese. He was a devoted pastor to many, a champion of the church's ministry among the poor and persons in special need, and a leader in expanding the ministry of the Episcopal Church in Alabama. He will be greatly missed," said Parsley.

During his episcopacy, Miller emphasized ministry to children and young adults, creating a full-time position at the diocese to develop youth ministries. He personally directed numerous summer camp sessions and attempted to make a visit to almost every camp session.

He was instrumental in supporting the development of Birmingham Campus Ministries and in the formation of the Diocese of Alabama's AIDS Task Force.

Miller served as a member of the Standing Liturgical Commission of the Episcopal Church, was a Nonalcoholic Trustee on the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous, and was a trustee of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.

Elected and consecrated as suffragan bishop of Alabama in 1986, Miller assisted the Rt. Rev. Furman Stough until being elected to succeed him as bishop of Alabama.

Miller began his ministry as a pastor in the Methodist Church in 1963, serving as associate minister for the First Methodist Church in Anniston, and director of Wesley Foundation at Jacksonville State University. He was ordained a deacon and priest in the Episcopal Church in 1968.

During his ministry in the Episcopal Church in Alabama, Miller served as rector of St. Wilfrid's Church in Marion, priest-in-charge of Holy Cross Church in Uniontown, rector of the Church of the Holy Comforter in Montgomery, and rector of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Indian Springs Village. He also served as chaplain at Judson College and the Marion Military Institute in Marion.

Miller graduated from Birmingham Southern College in 1960 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. He received his Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1963 from Candler Theological Seminary at Emory University, Atlanta, and did postgraduate work at the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee.

Miller was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Sewanee in 1988, and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Birmingham Southern College in 1991.

He is survived by his wife, the former Margaret "Peggy" Fisher, daughters Margaret Slater Miller and Vivian Miller Campagna, and granddaughter Lila Grace Campagna.

A funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Friday, June 3 at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham.

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