Archbishop Claude Miller (center, left) receives a blessing from Bishop Percy Coffin (center, right), diocese of Western Newfoundland, during his installation as metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada at St. Martin’s Cathedral in Gander, Nfld.. Surrounding them are other members of the provincial house of bishops (left to right): Bishops Sue Moxley (diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island), Cy Pitman (Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador), Dennis Drainville (diocese of Quebec), David Torraville (Central Newfoundland), and Barry Clarke (diocese of Montreal).
A bishop who in 2006 walked 500 kilometers to help raise $50,000 for HIV/AIDS is the new metropolitan (senior bishop) of the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada.
Claude Miller, bishop of the diocese of Fredericton, was elected the 22nd Metropolitan of the Anglican Church of Canada’s oldest province, during a provincial synod held in Gander, Nfld., Sept. 10 to 13.
Archbishop Miller succeeds Archbishop Bruce Stavert, who retired as bishop of the diocese of Quebec and Metropolitan early this year.
His one particular passion since he became a bishop of Fredericton in 2003 is youth ministry, said Archbishop Miller, and the place of youth “in the collective vision” of the Anglican Church. “They are, I believe, a tremendous gift and asset…They have the gifts to help us…meet the challenges of our current cultural state,” he said. “They understand the importance of communication and know how to communicate with one another.” At the same time, he added, youth bring “a tremendous enthusiasm and energy, and they do care for the environment, for creation, for one another, and for God’s people…”
Archbishop Miller, who was elected on the first ballot, said in an interview that he was “humbled and honoured” by the election. His priority will be to “build relationships with other bishops” and enable them to “share concerns and share vision as to how we might collectively support Gods’ mission.”
To overcome the challenge of vast distances between dioceses, bishops will forge partnerships through a pulpit exchange, said Archbishop Miller , who has partnered with the bishop of the diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador, Cy Pitman. The hope is that such partnerships will strengthen relationships and help everyone share resources and material for youth, theological and Christian formation programs.
The Ecclesiastical Province of Canada includes the dioceses of Montreal, Quebec, Fredericton, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Western Newfoundland, Central Newfoundland and Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador. Founded in 1860, it predates the church’s national structure by three decades.
As metropolitan, Archbishop Miller will exercise leadership in a province whose membership is diverse and aging. Although its membership is largely rural (with the exception of Montreal), the province has not been spared the challenge of increased secularization faced by urban-based dioceses. “There are cultural changes” that have marginalized churches, notes Archbishop Miller, making them seem “irrelevant to the journey of life.” A focus on congregational development and restructuring is making it possible for mission and ministry to continue despite economic challenges and fewer people in the pews, he said.
Asked to describe his leadership style, Archbishop Miller said he is known to “recognize other people’s gifts and thereby empower them to do their mission and ministry.” He added: “I can’t do it all…I have as many people participate as possible.”
Before he became a priest in 1989, Archbishop Miller had a successful 25-year career in civil engineering and real estate development and property management. A dedicated layperson of the Anglican Church, he decided to leave that behind “after prayer and discernment, wondering what I would do for the rest of my life.” God, he said, “spoke to me loud and clear, he wanted me to become a priest.” He hasn’t looked back since. “…I feel as fresh about it today as I did when I discerned my call in the beginning. I’m as enthusiastic now as I’ve ever been,” he said.
Archbishop Miller and his wife, Sharon, have two daughters, two sons-in-law, and three grandsons.