Late metropolitan of Canada was dedicated to camping ministry
Claude Miller held many titles throughout his life and ministry: 22nd metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Canada, ninth diocesan bishop of Fredericton, parish priest. But in the wake of his death June 27, many colleagues remembered him most of all as a friend.
Miller, who died after a short illness lasting a few weeks, and one day after his 79th birthday, began serving as bishop of Fredericton in 2003 and as metropolitan of Canada——an ecclesiastical province that covers Atlantic Canada and a large swath of the civil province of Quebec—in 2009. He held both positions until retiring in 2014 on his 70th birthday, the maximum age for serving bishops in the Anglican Church of Canada.
Archbishop David Edwards, who succeeded Miller as bishop of Fredericton and was himself later elected metropolitan of Canada in 2020, presided at Miller’s funeral service held at Christ Church Cathedral on July 3. Edwards described Miller as “a man of great faith, personable and concerned” who “loved God, loved God’s church and was deeply concerned with the people God had given him.”
In an earlier statement, Edwards called Miller “a very important figure” in the diocese of Fredericton’s history, and one who was very helpful to him in his own time as bishop, especially soon after he was elected. “There have been many times over the last 10 years when I have spoken to him about matters, and I have valued his counsel,” Edwards said.
Born in Bathurst, N.B. in 1944 and raised in Salmon Beach, Miller graduated from New Brunswick Technical Institute in 1964. Prior to entering the priesthood, he worked in structural engineering, real estate development and property management.
In 1988, he graduated from the Atlantic School of Theology and was ordained as a deacon, then as a priest the following year, serving in the New Brunswick parishes of Kingston and Bathurst.
For five years, Miller served as executive assistant to Bishop William Hockin, his predecessor as bishop of Fredericton. Hockin, now retired, said Miller “brought knowledge of the culture of the province and of the churches … He was from rural New Brunswick himself, so he had a sense of that. A lot of the diocese is rural churches, small churches.”
“He was very good to the clergy,” Hockin said. “In any bishop’s life, there are clergy who get into crisis and he was very, I think I would say, redeeming in that sense. He went to every length to help them.”
Miller was elected coadjutor bishop of Fredericton in 2003 and became diocesan bishop later that same year. A key focus of his time as bishop was camping ministry—in particular Camp Medley, a summer camp owned by the diocese of Fredericton and located in the Gagetown parish. Camp Medley describes its mission as seeking to “proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for the making of disciples” and help children and youth “learn, build important relationships, and play in the beauty of God’s creation.”
As bishop, Miller appointed a new director of the camp and made the position full-time, which Hockin said was a significant move.
“These camps are very important to us in this diocese, building up the faith of young people and children … He also canvassed [and] found a lot of money for new buildings for the camp,” Hockin said.
Edwards recalled a photo of a young Miller at summer camp, used in publicity during a fundraising campaign for Camp Medley. “I know that speaking with Claude he felt that his going to camp was important in his journey as a Christian,” Edwards said. “His driving force was that children should have the same opportunities as he had.”
Following his 2014 retirement, Miller continued to serve as a minister in the parishes of Fredericton Junction and New Maryland.
The Rev. Jim MacDonald, who gave the eulogy at the funeral, first met Miller in 1985 as a fellow student at the Atlantic School of Theology and described Miller as “an incredible friend, a friend with a similar sense of humour.”
Others commenting on the diocese of Fredericton’s announcement posted on Facebook recalled him in similar terms. Canon Eric Beresford, priest-in-charge at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Toronto, called Miller a “gracious and lovely man and a good friend to Atlantic School of Theology.”
In his last in-depth conversation with Miller at the cathedral three weeks before the latter’s death, Edwards said, “One of the things he mentioned was that he was excited that the camping season was coming and how important it is for children to go to camp.”
Miller is survived by wife Sharon, two daughters, three grandsons, two brothers and many nieces and nephews.
Video of the livestreamed funeral service can be viewed on the Christ Church Cathedral, Fredericton YouTube channel.