Archbishop Claude Miller will retire on his 70th birthday, June 26, 2014. National Church canons prohibit bishops to remain after age 70. When he made the announcement at the very end of the one-day synod held at Kingswood University in Sussex on Saturday (Nov. 8), he called his past 10 years as diocesan bishop and more recently as metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada, “A wonderful time in my life.” The sustained standing ovation that followed this was in gratitude and celebration of his ministry. A synod to elect a coadjutor bishop for the diocese will be called for early May. The person elected at that time will assume the diocesan position upon Archbishop Miller’s retirement the next month.
Archbishop Miller made the announcement holding an eagle feather in his right hand, something he did during his charge as well. It was a gift from Lt.-Gov. Graydon Nicholas. In Aboriginal culture the gift of an Eagle Feather is a great honour, a mark of distinction, and the person who speaks holding the eagle feather, speaks the truth. The subject of Eagle feathers came up the previous day when Archbishop Miller delivered Bishop Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop and a special guest of the synod, to Government House where the lieutenant governor had invited him for lunch. Archbishop Miller was touched by the spiritual meaning of the feather and in his heart wished for one. As he left Government House he looked up into the blue sky and saw a bald eagle soaring over the St. John River. He admired its grace and strength for a moment and decided that encounter would “do” as his eagle feather. Later that afternoon the lieutenant governor took Bishop MacDonald to meet the archbishop at the Synod Office, and presented him with a real eagle feather of his own.
Synod observed Archbishop Miller’s 25th anniversary of ordination to the diaconate among the significant milestones of many other clergy. He was called to ministry in middle age, following a successful career in structural engineering and real estate appraisal.
The parting blessing, last official act of synod, was delivered by Bishop MacDonald who put his arm around Archbishop Miller and acknowledged his impending retirement.
Ana Watts is editor of The New Brunswick Anglican.