Rev. Dr. Doug Miller died on Thursday morning, the Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice announced today. A Baptist minister by trade and a teacher by nature, Miller chaired Christian Social Ethics at Eastern Seminary in Philadelphia, after receiving his PhD at Claremont with post-doctoral work at Harvard, before moving permanently to Santa Barbara. He was a pastor at First Baptist of Santa Barbara for many years.
After retirement, Miller expanded his involvement in humanitarian groups, cofounding Santa Barbara’s Habitat for Humanity and the Showers of Blessing program of HEAL (Hope, Empowerment, And Love) with the Interfaith Initiative.
In an evening devoted to Miller in February, one of his former students Rev. Roy Donkin of Cambridge Drive Community Church, recalled his professor’s effect on his students. At Eastern Seminary, an evangelical Baptist school, Miller challenged his students “to see the world through new, wiser, more compassionate eyes.” Donkin was certain that the college dean had weekly visits from students complaining of “heretical” statements, such as, “It cannot be possible to be both a Christian and a Republican” in the mid-1970s. The class Miller taught on the ethics of love, was many students’ first exposure to LGBT issues.
In Miller’s lesson that February evening, sounding strong despite his fight with cancer, the pastor spoke with concern that Donald Trump had “left high moral character in historical wreckage” and with disappointment that such high percentages of white evangelicals, Catholics, and Protestants had supported him. In his clear-eyed and at times light-hearted talk, he reminded the group of what “Americanism” meant these days: the preponderance of selfish values with little thought for those less fortunate. He ended advising that a Thoreau or Martin Luther King Jr. moment may have come again, to resist, disobediently if necessary.
As many of his friends said today, Doug Miller will be missed. A Celebration of Life service is tentatively scheduled for June.