Lutherans in the Twin Cities

100 years experience for sermon illustrations

The Rev. Fred M. Miller, ordained into the Lutheran ministry on June 2, 1935, preached this year at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Edina, Minnesota, on the Sunday before the anniversary of his ordination; he preached at Trinity First Evangelical Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Minneapolis, the church in which he was baptized and confirmed, on July 17, 2011, the day after his 100th birthday.

If that isn’t already an indication of his energy level, note that he continues to teach Bible classes, conduct devotionals, preach two German sermons a year, and lead religious activities in the care suites in which he lives, as well as to distribute Christian leaflets (tracts) in a wide area. At this writing, he is in good health and looking forward to his transfer to his heavenly home.

Miller was born on July 16, 1911, at 2749 Columbus Avenue in Minneapolis, the son of Joseph and Minna (Stanz) Miller. He was baptized Frederick Max Miller at Trinity First on August 13, 1911.

The Rev. Fred Miller on the occasion of his ordination in 1935

In April, 1918, Miller’s family moved to Orchard Lake, Minnesota. There they eked out a living by selling eggs and produce to their neighbors and visitors at the lake. His father worked as caretaker of the elementary school.

Miller was confirmed at Trinity First on June 15, 1924. He attended Concordia College (now University) in St. Paul, graduating in June 1930. He continued his studies for the ministry that September at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, graduating in June 1934.

Miller first met his wife Frieda in 1924 at Trinity First Lutheran School, which they both attended and later graduated from. They became better acquainted on the Sunday in May 1930 when the Concordia College Glee Club sang at a worship service at Trinity First. Members of the choir were guests in the homes of Trinity First members. Fred went to the home of Frieda’s parents, Henry and Martha Doepke. That began a courtship which continued during seminary days and culminated in their marriage on May 16, 1935, the 25th wedding anniversary of Fred’s parents and the 50th wedding anniversary of his grandparents.

Never a dull moment

Miller was ordained and installed at a parish serving Akeley and Badoura, Minnesota, on June 2, 1935. He accepted a call to Walker, Minnesota, in 1938 where daughter Margaret was born.

In this first ministry, Miller was paid $50 per month salary, with three cents per mile for travel with a $225 car. The parsonage cost the congregation $100 before repair. Frieda was the organist at Badoura. In addition to his pastor’s duties, Fred served as choir director.

In September 1941 he entered the military chaplaincy of World War II. He served in the European Theater, including the Battle of the Bulge. When Fred went into the chaplaincy, Frieda moved to Clinton Avenue in Minneapolis where son John was born in 1943. John was 2 years old before his father met him.

The Rev. Fred Miller’s professional photo in 2005

If that isn’t already an indication of his energy level, note that Miller continues to teach Bible classes, conduct devotionals, preach two German sermons a year, and lead religious activities in the care suites in which he lives.

At the conclusion of the war, being just 10 kilometers from Martin Luther’s birth and death place in Eisleben, Germany, Miller arranged a tour of Eisleben for some 300 troops.

He returned to the United States in 1945, but remained in the military department at St. Thomas Military Academy in St. Paul. During that time, he served a year in the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

After 23 years in the military, Miller retired and was honorably discharged in August 1964. He accepted a call as pastor of Trinity First Evangelical Lutheran Church in November of 1964 and served there until he retired August 19, 1976. Upon retirement, he served as visitation pastor of Trinity First (1976-1978); assistant to the pastor at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church, Bloomington (1979-1983); and vacancy pastor and assistant to the pastor at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Edina (1978-2007).

The family moved from their home on Clinton Avenue when I-35W was built. They lived 36 years in a home on Fremont Avenue. The Millers moved to the Augustana Apartments in 1999. Frieda died in November 2006.

Currently in good health, Miller currently lives in the Care Suites at Augustana Homes. He continues to be active in Bible studies.

Miller received numerous honors during his career, including outstanding alumni of Concordia College (now University), presented in 1992; member of CARAG (Calhoun Area Residents Action Group) Neighborhood Council for 25 years; the Korean Achievement Award presented by the mayor of a town near the Demilitarized Zone in Korea, 1958; and WCCO Good Neighbor Award for City of Minneapolis, 2002. In addition, Miller sang in the first Lutheran Hour Choir which aired on KFUO in St. Louis in 1931.

Wendy Colglazier is Fred and Frieda Miller’s granddaughter.

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