New Mount Zion pastor, wife to be honored

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 19, 2015

A milestone is being celebrated at New Mount Zion M.B. Church on Sunday as the Rev. Robert L. Miller is being recognized for his 40 years of service to the church.

“It’s really awesome to have him because he preaches from the spirit and his heart,” said Trudy James, a 43-year member of New Mount Zion M.B. Church.

“He doesn’t hold back. He doesn’t sugarcoat it. He tells you exactly what thus says the Lord. That’s what we need. He’s not one who preaches to what people want to hear. He preaches according to God’s word, and that’s what it’s all about.”

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Miller has done many things throughout his life, but inside he has always been a preacher. An 89-year-old, he can’t see himself ever hanging it up because it’s his calling. Some of the members of his church have said their church will close its doors if he ever leaves.

“It’s something within you when you obey God that you can’t quit being no preacher,” Miller said. “When you find a guy quit being a preacher, he wasn’t really a preacher.”

The stresses of the job are getting to him with headaches and fatigue. He is currently serving five churches on a rotation schedule where he will do two services a Sunday except one Sunday a month, he only does one service.

In 1972, he picked up three churches when he started preaching at Holly Grove M.B. Church in April, China Grove M.B. Church in May and Pleasant Valley M.B. Church in July.

Forty years ago in July is when he first took the pulpit at New Mount Zion M.B. Church. Eleven years later in June 1986, he began serving his fifth church, Locus Grove M.B. Church.

He also preached at Providence M.B. Church from 1971 until 1986. He has served as the vice moderator of the Sharkey County Baptist Association and is currently the moderator of Warren County Baptist Association.

He never thought he’d be a preacher. One day while he was at a dance, it hit him out of nowhere that he was being called into ministry and he never looked back.

He was ordained in December 1968 and started serving his first church just weeks later.

The profession is so a part of his soul; oftentimes he slides into preacher mode mid-conversation.

“A lot of people don’t understand it, don’t believe you, but there is something within that holds the reigns,” Miller said. “I don’t care what the devil care what the devil try to make you think you ought to be doing.”

Miller’s pastor appreciation program will start at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at New Mount Zion M.B. Church, 515 Feld St., with two guest choirs and a guest speaker, the Rev. Edmund E. Gibbs of Pleasant Valley Church.

Afterward, they will gather together over a meal.

Gibbs is a deputy with the Warren County Sheriff’s Department and was chosen by Miller to speak at his appreciation program. Miller said Gibbs is a good preacher, and their relationship goes back a few years.

“When he was a little ole boy he started running around behind me, and I carried him around from church to church,” Miller said.

The only job Miller has ever had besides being a preacher was as a letter carrier for 25 years.

At 18, Miller was drafted and left high school for World War II. He spent time in France, England, Belgium and Germany as a medic. Once the war was over, he came back to Vicksburg to finish his high school degree at Bowman High School.

He married two years later and had eight children with his wife of almost 30 years. She passed away in 1979. He was remarried in August 2013 to Elease Fisher Miller.

“My boy died, and I was just so worried. And me, I had been going to see her a lot, and I went ahead and married her because she has been real nice to me. I married her, and I been getting along fine with her and I was glad I did,” Robert said.

He said he married her because she was different and not negative.

“I don’t like people that talk about you, keep you down, nothing you do is right, won’t let you do what the Lord, I didn’t married them. I married her because she was different,” Robert said.

The feeling is mutual with Elease. She is proud of the man she married calling their marriage a pleasure.

“He really is a good pastor. He teaches a lot and he’s a good, loving husband,” Elease said.

“He loves to just try to tell people everything he knows in life to try to help them.”