Rev Harry Galbraith Miller

 Born: July 15, 1914; Died: July 23, 2011.

Harry Miller, who had just celebrated his 97th birthday when he died, was a minister who served across the west of Scotland and was a member of the Dunkeld Fellowship.

He was from a family which passed at least three things on to him: his skill at music, his intellectual rigour and his faith.

His family line was one of intellectuals. His father, himself a minister taught in what was then called the Glasgow Athenaeum School of Music, now the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, and was also a church organist and known for slipping from pulpit to keyboard when there was no other organist available.

With Harry’s death, the Kirk has now lost one of its few remaining ministers who trained in the 1930s. While he had been ordained in 1941, he had been licensed in 1938.

Educationally, he had a distinguished career at Glasgow Academy, where in his first five years he won the first prize on four occasions and in his final year he was Dux of the School and won The Academical Club Prize and prizes for English and Greek.

Thereafter, he went to Glasgow University, where, after his Arts degree, he obtained a BD with distinction in Systematic Theology. In those days only the very brightest students actually graduated in Divinity, as a degree was not a requirement to be licensed.

He spent four years as the assistant in Cathcart Old, where he was ordained.

Harry was called to Lochgilphead and shortly after his sister Mrs Doreen Hogg and her family came to live with him, and he provided a home for Doreen for the rest of her life.

Click here to read a letter sent by Rev Miller to WW2 servicemen and women from Lochgilphead Christmas 1945.  

After five years in Lochgilphead, he was translated to Inch outside Stranraer where he became the Clerk to the Presbytery of Stranraer.

In Inchinnan, to which he was translated in 1958, the question of the replacement of the Bridge Church and the building of the magnificent new church where his funeral service took place was the main focus of his ministry.

The designation of Abbotsinch as the new Glasgow airport and the extension of the runway meant it was necessary to demolish the 1904 church and re-site the new church in the village.

He was very fond of Inchinnan, and proud of the striking and functional new church which included much from the old building, such as the stained glass.

The most public ministry which he performed was in Iona and the Ross of Mull. In the early years of his ministry, in the summer, the parish services were held in the cathedral and often the church was full with people who were on informal pilgrimages.

Harry was a wonderful preacher.He had the ability to produce sheer erudition mixed with gentle humour, which was so typical of him as he really did expound the Faith. It was unfortunate that he, despite his learning and his ability to communicate the Gospel, only wrote one book, the whimsical yet challenging The Unicorn: Meditations on the Love of God, published by SLG Press.

Harry had a wonderful, eclectic circle of friends who popped up from all round the world. He provided support for many people. He was also a born storyteller, and people listened spellbound to his fund of anecdote, wisdom and wit.

Iona was an interesting place for Harry. As well as the Iona Community, he was drawn into many different events. He didn’t always take these gatherings seriously.

At one event, he was asked who he was, and he answered that he was an Archacondric (an imaginary title) of the Order of St Basil. The person was much impressed.

Actually he did look like a Greek orthodox priest, with his cloak and long white beard, something which he was very aware of, and played upon to his amusement and of those who knew him.

He would have been the first to admit he wasn’t that keen on the pastoral side of ministry, not because he didn’t care – he cared a lot – but because he could never quite get himself organised. His problems with timekeeping were legendary.

Above everything else he was an authentic human being whose personality was illuminated by his faith.

Obituary published in Glasgow Herald in 2011


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