Phil Miller has served First Christian, Jeffersonville, Indiana, in 2017-18; First Christian, Hopkinsville, Kentucky, in 2018-19; and First Christian, Greensboro, North Carolina, in 2019-20. He is a certified Transitional Minister with the Interim Ministry Network.
Phil married Paula Colker in 1971. They met at Estes Park, Colorado, where they both worked for the YMCA of the Rockies. Paula graduated from Southern Methodist University with a B.F.A. in communications. In 1988, Paula earned a Master of Education degree from Murray State University, Kentucky. She has been a classroom teacher but spent most of her career in staff development, literacy training, and cognitive coaching.
Paula and Phil have two daughters. Hope is married to Adam Goodell, and they’re raising Sterling and Julian in South Orange, New Jersey. Emily taught elementary school in Austin, Texas, and has been staying with Phil and Paula through the pandemic.
Phil, an alumnus of Texas Christian University, completed his Master of Theology and Doctor of Ministry degrees at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. After seminary, he served as Associate Minister for four years at First Christian, Abilene, Texas. Then, for seven years, he was the Senior Minister of the Madison Avenue Christian Church, Covington, Kentucky. From there, he moved to First Christian, Paducah, Kentucky, where he also served for seven years. His final settled pastorate was with the South Hills Christian Church, Fort Worth, Texas, where he served for eight years.
Along the way, Phil received a commission as a chaplain in the Air Force Reserve. He served as an individual reservist with the active duty staff at Blytheville (later Eaker) Air Force Base, Arkansas, during his years in Paducah. During these years, he also served as an Admissions Liaison Officer for the U.S. Air Force Academy and Reserve Officer Training Corps.
During his years in Fort Worth, he served part-time with the active duty chaplains at Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls, Texas, from which he also reached out as the chaplain to a recruiting squadron based in Arlington, Texas.
He then became the individual Reserve counterpart to the Wing Chaplain at Lackland, the largest Air Force base. From there, he was mobilized for Operation Noble Eagle in response to the crisis of 9/11/2001. He served full-time for a year at the Pentagon and Air Force Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Following his mobilization, Miller remained on active duty managing Reserve chaplain programs for five and a half years. At first, he worked with the Air Reserve Personnel Center in Denver. Then he worked with the Air Force Reserve Headquarters at Robins A.F.B., Georgia. He was the Division Chief overseeing recruitment, training, and professional development including the Air Force Chaplain Candidate Program.
His final Air Force assignment was as the individual Reserve counterpart to the Command Chaplain, Air Force Space Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colorado. He retired at the rank of Colonel in November 2010.
When Phil left active duty in 2008, he became the Executive Director of TLC Meals on Wheels, based in Littleton, Colorado, for four and a half years. In 2013, he decided to retire altogether.
He and Paula moved to a log-sided home they had purchased in the Chattahoochee National Forest in North Georgia’s Appalachian Mountains. They joined Cherry Log Christian Church, which the late Dr. Fred Craddock had established. Phil wrote three books. Benjamin in the Forest consists of 80 short children’s stories describing the trees, birds, and bugs of the Appalachians. Benjamin amid the Wildflowers is another children’s story. Both of these combine Phil’s interests in photography and creative writing.
His “grown-up” book, From the Lives We Knew, consists of true stories based on the lives of refugees and immigrants Phil has known, although he fictionalized them to protect individual identities. This book tells about a Palestinian, a family from Kosovo, and a couple from Iraq. Phil and Paula have long shared a passion for working with refugees and immigrants, and Paula currently helps African immigrants in Greensboro learn English.
Phil looks forward eagerly to his ministry with First Christian of Richmond, a church filled with committed and talented members making a significant witness reach out to the community and to the world.