We are writing to congratulate Rabbi Jonathan Miller upon his retirement from Temple Emanu-El after many years of faithful service to your congregation and the entire Birmingham community. It has been our deep joy and great privilege to be the beneficiaries of Jonathan’s example of spiritual leadership, excellent scholarship, and to listen to his courageous voice for justice, peace and friendship across faith traditions in our city and state over his many years among us. His willingness to speak out on the most important issues of biblical justice in our own day and time have been a challenge to us all, as a city and in our individual faith traditions, calling us to live out a vision of God’s shalom for all of our neighbors.
Rabbi Miller has been a great friend to the congregation of Independent Presbyterian Church in times of joy and in times of pain and struggle. Not long after his arrival in Birmingham, he extended the hand of friendship and hospitality to our congregation following a devastating fire that caused us to need an alternative space for worship for many months during reconstruction. Arriving on the very day of the fire, Rabbi Miller invited us to come “home” to Temple Emanu-El, where IPC worshiped for the first seven years of our existence as a church, from 1915-1922. In those first years, and during the year following the fire, many Presbyterians could say proudly and gratefully that they were married at the Temple, and that their children were baptized into the Christian faith in the sanctuary of Temple Emanu-El!
Our congregations have shared times of mutual joy as well. Rabbi Miller graciously included our congregation in the Temple’s anniversary celebrations, and we invited your congregation to be a part of our own centennial celebrations including a meaningful Shabbat service and meal together. The friendships among our members have been strong over the years, and it has been a blessing to share life together for more than a century.
The entire Birmingham community will miss Rabbi Miller’s spiritual leadership among us. The congregation of Independent Presbyterian Church will miss both his spiritual leadership and his friendship among us. We wish him every joy as he embarks on the next phase of his life. We are confident that his leadership will continue in his new home and we will look forward to continuing our relationship with him, even if at a distance. On behalf of the pastors, staff, and Session of Independent Presbyterian Church, we offer our deep gratitude to Jonathan Miller for his fruitful, prophetic, and faithful life among us. We are a better community because he passed our way.
Beverly Krannich, Clerk of Session
James T. Holloway, President of the Congregation
Rev. Dr. William J. Carl, III, Pastor
Independent Presbyterian Church