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J.R. Miller

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J.R.    Miller
James Russell Miller (March 20, 1840 – July 2, 1912) was a popular Christian author, Editorial Superintendent of the Presbyterian Board of Publication, and pastor of several churches in Pennsylvania and Illinois.

J.R. Miller was born near Frankfort Springs, Pennsylvania, on the banks of the Big Traverse, which according to his biographer, John T. Faris, is a merry little mill stream which drains one of the most beautiful valleys in the southern part of Beaver County. His parents were James Alexander Miller and Eleanor Creswell who were of Irish/Scottish stock.

James Russell Miller was the second child of ten, but his older sister died before he was born. James and his sisters attended the district school in Hanover Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania until, when James was about fourteen, his father moved to a farm near Calcutta, Ohio. The children then went to the district school during the short winters and worked on the farm during summer.

In 1857, James entered Beaver Academy and in 1862 he progressed to Westminster College, Pennsylvania, which he graduated in June, 1862. Then in the autumn of that year he entered the theological seminary of the United Presbyterian Church at Allegheny, Pennsylvania.

The Pastorate

Mr. Miller resumed his interrupted studies at the Allegheny Theological Seminary in the fall of 1865 and completed them in the spring of 1867. That summer he accepted a call from the First United Presbyterian Church of New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. He was ordained and installed on September 11, 1867.

Rev. Miller held firmly to the great body of truth professed by the United Presbyterian Church, in which he had been reared, but he did not like the rule requiring the exclusive singing of the Psalms, and he felt that it was not honest for him to profess this as one of the articles of his Christian belief. He therefore resigned from his pastorate to seek membership in the Presbyterian Church (USA). In his two years as pastor, nearly two hundred names were added to the church roll.

The Old and New School Presbyterian Churches were reunited as the Presbyterian Church (USA) on November 12, 1869, and Dr. Miller became pastor of the Bethany Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia just nine days later. When he became pastor at Bethany the membership was seventy five and when he resigned in 1878 Bethany was the largest Presbyterian church in Philadelphia, having about twelve hundred members.

Rev. Miller then accepted the pastorate of the New Broadway Presbyterian Church of Rock Island, Illinois.

In 1880 Westminster College, his alma mater conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Divinity and later in the same year came the invitation to undertake editorial work for the Presbyterian Board of Publication in Philadelphia. Hence Dr. Miller had to resign the Rock Island, Illinois pastorate.

In Philadelphia J.R. Miller D.D. became interested in the Hollond Mission and eventually became its pastor. During the sixteen months of the pastorate the church membership grew from 259 to 1,164 and Sunday School membership climbed from 1,024 to 1,475.

On October 29, 1899, St. Paul Church in West Philadelphia was organized with sixty-six members. Dr. Miller was chosen temporary supply and became pastor in 1906. Dr. Miller remained pastor until the year of his death, 1912. The church at that time had 1,397 members.

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