Miller moves from administration back to pulpit

After working in executive offices the past eight years, the Rev. Larry G. Miller said, he’s excited to be back in the pulpit preaching the Gospel.

“I believe very strongly in evangelism and sharing the faith and inviting people to Christ,” said Miller, the new senior pastor of University United Methodist Church. “If nobody had ever invited me, I would probably never have been in the church.”

Miller came to University on June 30, replacing the Rev. Van Stinson who was named Baton Rouge Area district superintendent.

Miller served five years as executive director of administrative services for the Louisiana Methodist Annual Conference and before that served as Baton Rouge district superintendent from 2005 until 2008. His career has spanned 33 years serving in seven churches and on numerous conference boards and committees.

“I didn’t realize in the past eight years, serving in the administration, how much I missed being among the people,” Miller said.

University, with an enrollment of 1,200 and an average attendance of about 360, is the third largest Methodist church in Baton Rouge. First United Methodist Church is the largest, followed by Broadmoor.

Miller is energetic, physically fit and has few gray hairs.

“I told the congregation that the folks at Supercuts don’t give me the ‘over 60’ discount. I have a lot more energy and passion than most 60-year-olds,”he said.

Miller grew up in Springhill, the eldest of four boys. His father was a forester and his mother, who died 10 years ago, was a math teacher.

“We didn’t go to church, not even at Christmas or Easter,” Miller said. “We didn’t even have a Bible in our home. Sports was my life and I was good at math.”

He played football, basketball, and baseball and was good enough to play semipro baseball while attending Northeast Louisiana University.

His life changed in ninth-grade when his basketball coach invited him to his Sunday school class at Springhill Methodist Church. That same year, Miller received a green, paperback New Testament from the Gideons — a Bible he still treasures.

Miller got involved in the youth group and joined the church. When he went to NLU in 1970, his Southern Baptist roommate invited him to Baptist Student Union activities.

“Everyone kept asking me if I had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and I would tell them, ‘I joined the church.’ They would say, ‘No. Do you know Christ?’” Miller said.

“On Nov. 19, 1970, in my room, on the seventh floor of Olin (Hall) dorm — that’s no longer there — I made a personal relationship commitment to Christ,” Miller said. “I prayed, ‘I want to live my life for you.’ ”

He joined the Methodist Wesley Foundation and credits Jim Wilson, the campus minister, for recognizing a divine calling on his life.

Miller earned a math education degree in 1974, and “In the middle of my second year of teaching (high school math), I felt God calling me to preach,” Miller said. “I remember thinking at one point, ‘God, I really don’t care whether they learn the quadratic math formulas or not, but I do care whether they know Jesus.’ ”

He enrolled at Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology, was ordained a deacon in 1977 and graduated from seminary in 1979. He was ordained an elder in 1981, and went to work at small churches in northern Louisiana.

In the early 1980s, while serving as a minister to singles at First Methodist at Alexandria, he met and married Linda Rae Fomby. They have two grown married daughters and a granddaughter.

His life verse, he quotes, “is John 10:10: ‘I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.’ I believe God wants us to have a full and abundant life.”

Editor’s note: This story was changed on July 29, 2013, to specify that University United Methodist Church is the third largest United Methodist Church in the city of Baton Rouge, rather than the Baton Rouge area. The number of years Larry Miller served as executive director of administrative services for the Louisiana Methodist Annual Conference and the name of the dorm where he made a personal committment to Christ were also corrected.