The Rev. David Vines Miller (93) passed away at his home in Black Mountain, NC, on Monday, December 23, 2019. Mr. Miller was born in Johnson City, TN, on the 23rd of August, 1926, to Earl Matson Miller and Caroline Hewes Wharton. He grew up on Millercrest Farm, graduated from Science Hill High School and immediately enlisted in the Navy. He served in the Pacific on the Battleship Indiana from 1944-1946. He attended East Tennessee State University from 1946 to 1948 then transferred to Davidson College from which he graduated in the class of 1950. He was inducted into the ODK Leadership Fraternity and, on the occasion of his 50th college reunion was awarded the John W. Kuykendall Community Service Award by the Alumni Association. For one year following his Davidson graduation, he traveled for the interdenominational Student Volunteer Movement visiting colleges and universities throughout the Southeast talking about opportunities of overseas mission work.
In 1951, he entered Union (Presbyterian) Theological Seminary in Richmond, VA, and in 1952, he married Polly Jean Yandell of Charlotte, NC. He graduated in 1954, became a member of Holston Presbytery in East Tennessee and the couple began their 40 year career as missionaries of the Presbyterian Church USA in Africa. After a year’s study at the Colonial School in Brussels, Belgium, their first assignment was to Luebo Station in the Belgian Congo, the first mission station established by The American Presbyterian Congo Mission in 1891. During his 23 years in the Congo, he was an itinerating pastor, a teacher in the Church’s Bible school, Principal of a high school and director of the Department of Evangelism for the Church. He also served as Africa Field Secretary for PCUSA. As a reflection of his character and relationships, he was given the Tschiluba name of Tshisuabanto (“Lover of people”).
After the Congo, the Millers were invited by the Lesotho Evangelical Church to serve with them because of his care and persistence in getting several church officials out of prison. The Board of World Missions agreed to this request and assigned them to the country of Lesotho in 1977. Mr. Miller became the pastor of a six-church parish, Projects Officer for the General Synod, Chaplain at the National Teachers’ Training College and served as PCUSA Liaison for Southern Africa.
The Lesotho assignment lasted 12 years until he was asked to head up the PCUSA Project of Evangelism, Church Growth and Theological Education in Southern Africa. To fulfill this assignment, the Millers moved to Harare, Zimbabwe, which was an air “hub” for travel in Southern Africa. This assignment completed his 40 years in Africa and the Millers returned to the States and settled in Black Mountain, NC, in 1994.
In retirement, Mr. Miller continued to itinerate throughout the PCUSA encouraging mission involvement. He was a member of the Board of the Presbyterian Heritage Center in Montreat, NC, for a number of years and active in procuring and organizing mission documents and artifacts.
Mr. Miller was predeceased by his parents and 7 older siblings, Rev. Earl Miller, Jr., Hunter (“Bub”) Miller, Mary Ann Pitts, Rose Montgomery, Caroline Thuston, Tommy Miller and Don Miller. He is survived by 24 nieces and nephews. He is also survived by Polly, his wife of 67 years, and his 3 children, David (Cilla), Nancy Dimmock (Frank), and Eddie (Grace), 10 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.
A service of remembrance will be held at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church on Saturday, January 18, 2020, at 2 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Black Mountain Presbyterian Church (117 Montreat Road, Black Mountain, NC 28711) designated for Ministry of Hope (Africa) or to The Outreach Foundation for the work of Dr. Frank Dimmock in the refugee camps in Somalia, South Sudan and Kenya.
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