"HE did not belong to that scholastic fraternity," a friend said of Samuel Miller yesterday. Miller was above all a minister. He would have preferred to remain pastor of the Old Cambridge Baptist Church rather than taking the post of Dean of Harvard's Divinity School. But as Dean, Miller devoted himself to the goals he had defined with more than conscientiousness.
At the Old Cambridge Church, Miller was some-what of an intellectual pastor, ignoring traditional church administrative work. But because of his basic humanity and concern for his congregation, "this was not ministry from a distance," as one colleague described his years there.
Miller's goals as Dean were clearly shaped by his pastoral experience. He stressed the development of ministers in the image he had set for himself--an awareness and ability to deal with social problems--at a time when this was far from the concern of most members of the Divinity School faculty. His most important contribution in this area lay in the forming of the Department of the Church, with its field work programs for prospective ministers.
Miller brought an admirable determination to his job. He could have retired two years ago, when he developed serious heart trouble. But he felt that his work was not done. "I want to move theological education one hairbreadth closer to reality," he told a friend.
His determination was not limited to the goals he set for the School. He established an Office of Development for fund raising at the Divinity School and travelled to major cities seven or eight times to raise money. His talent for interesting lay contributors was of great value to the School.
As minister, Dean Miller will probably be remembered most for what one friend called his "genius in worship." "He had the ability to express man's spiritual needs and yearnings in a language which was neither traditional nor frantic in its attempt to be modern," his successor, Krister Standahl, said.
As Dean, Miller added a new validity and relevance to the study for the parish ministry. The Divinity School is the richer.