Pastor returns to pulpit after military deployment

ContributedChaplain (Maj.) Tim Miller, third from left, gives the invocation in Latham on Thursday, Feb. 18, for the promotion ceremony of Brig. Gen. Isabel Smith.

A pastor at a Morris church has recently returned to his pulpit after a 10-month deployment in the New York National Guard. 

Chaplain (Maj.) Timothy Miller, who is also the senior pastor at the Light Walkers Baptist Church at 193 county Route 49 in Morris, had been serving in the Army on deployments to Kuwait and Jordan. He left for deployment in late January 2020 and returned in late November. He serves as the assistant division chaplain for the 42nd Infantry Division, which is based in Troy.

"It has been an interesting adventure," Miller told The Daily Star on Friday, Feb. 19, but "it has been very rewarding to return back and see everything and everybody."

The son of missionaries, Miller grew up in northern New Jersey. His younger brother, Andrew, preceded him into the military, with both men joining the Marines in the aftermath of 9/11, he said. In his first stint in the armed forces, Miller said he was a air defense gunner, serving the Marines during deployments in Iraq.

"For me, the calling to the ministry came in the Marine Corps," he said. 

After completing divinity training at Davis Bible College in Johnson City and then getting two master's degrees, Miller opted to rejoin the military, this time in the Army. He has been in the New York National Guard for the past 10 years, he said. 

"I saw a need to continue to minister to military members," he said. "Many times, the soldiers that we serve are also in the community as well. There's a lot of crossover there."

Miller's wife, Jami, is also a guard member, serving in the Air Guard in a unit out of Syracuse. They have two teenagers and Miller said it has been tough to be away from his family and church family for so long, but he pointed to his commitment to his calling and to his country as the reason he continues to re-enlist and deploy.

"It is a commitment when you dedicate yourself to going (into the service)," he said. 

While an interim pastor took over his duties in Morris for the year, Miller said he was able to keep in touch with the congregation and even follow virtual services online, thanks in part to the coronavirus pandemic forcing churches to reach their congregations in new ways. 

"It was interesting to be able to do that," he said. 

Miller and his family have lived in Morris and in Gilbertsville, but they now live in Colonie, in Albany County. However, he said he does not mind commuting to Light Walkers every Sunday and will continue to do so as long as the congregation wants him there. The congregation is a small one, with an average of 25 or 30 at services each week, and Miller said he feels it is part of his mission to keep serving that community. 

"At this point, it has been very rewarding for me to be there (in Morris)," he said. "I told them, as long as they want me to be there, I will continue to serve them in that role. It really is up to the congregation and the church's deacons." 

For more information about the church, go to Light Walkers Baptist Church on Facebook.  

Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at gklein@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7218.

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