Left to right are: Carol Smith, Katie Doudoujkan, Rhoda Paschal, John Doudoujkan, Ron Miller, Charlotte Kirby and Richard Veale.
Excerpt from "First Things" Vol. LXV, No. 37, September 13, 2015
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Thus begins William Cowper's remarkably poignant hymn, one that is sung here at First Presbyterian Church, and mentioned in sermons, on a regular basis. The well-loved hymn is an encouragement to saints in times of great trouble and loss.
On Wednesday evening, September 2, the family of the redeemed saints here at First Presbyterian Church lost a dear friend, colleague, brother in Christ and, of course, our organist, Mr. Ronald Miller. Personally, I didn't realize how deep my affection was for Ron until walking back to the church, with Holly, from the emergency room of Palmetto Health Baptist, after seeing Ron for the last time. By the time of Sunday afternoon's memorial service, I had no more tears left to weep.
I have memories of Ron that seem so real, so present. It is hard to imagine what Sunday morning will be like without him. I can still clearly see his smile and hear his contagious laugh. I'll miss the way he'd say, with that beautiful accent and empathetic expression, “I know, Dan, I know!” I'll miss how he'd nod his head understandingly when I know he didn't hear a single word I said. But above all, I'll miss him and, like many of us, I will mourn his passing for some time.
We've all heard the rather cynical, but nonetheless true, expression that we are “easily replaceable.” It's a good thing to keep in mind because it keeps us humble. But, I think Ronald Miller might be one of those rare exceptions. For those of us who had the extraordinary privilege to know and work with Ron, we know that there is nobody who could ever truly fill his organ shoes. He did his work with grace, humility and kindness, and he was as steady as the clocks he loved to build. He was the epitome of a servant, which in today's world does in fact seem to be a dying breed.
Cowper's hymn is often scorned by critics as being an expression of despair (the hymn was written shortly before Cowper suffered a severe breakdown). However, as stated by Anglican hymn writer Timothy Dudley-Smith, “nothing could be further from the truth… it is one of trust and hope,” thus the hymn’s true title, ‘Light shining out of darkness.’
The fifth stanza is a firm reminder of the promises of God to his people that we find in Isaiah 43:2, Romans 8:28, and James 1:2-4 – God is working his purposes out for our good and for his glory:
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flower.
Let us continue to praise God for the life and friendship of Ron Miller by committing ourselves daily to the Lord's hard, but glorious, providences in our lives.
Director of Music Ministry
This page last updated September 24, 2015.