A new pastor, a new church, an exciting future

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Sally Rider welcomes Pastor Liz at the Aug. 13 Sunday service. Photo by John Stevenson

Granby Congregational Church, UCC has called the Reverend Liz Miller to serve as its Designated Term Minister. At the end of this three-year period, Pastor Liz will have the option to accept the role and duties as the church’s Senior Minister.

Miller has a masters in divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School, and a BA in English Literature from Agnes Scott College. She comes to us from Edgewood United Church UCC in East Lansing, Mich. where she was pastor for seven years. Although she grew up in Bakersfield, Calif., she is very familiar with Connecticut because prior to her time in Michigan, she served as the associate pastor at the Congregational Church in South Glastonbury for seven years. Miller is also a regular contributor to the UCC’s popular Stillspeaking Daily Devotional.

In a recent interview, Miller replied to questions:

What interests you the most about this position and GCC?

I was intrigued by a church that was invested in the future and was willing to try something radically new and creative to strengthen its future. That is the opposite of the stereotype most churches have! Since arriving, I have been amazed at the openness and excitement there is for the new Granby Congregational Church among its members, even as we still figure out all the details.

What are your hopes for the new congregation?

GCC plays an important role in Granby, especially through its food programs and support of local organizations. I hope we continue to strengthen our connections with partners across Granby to serve the changing and growing needs of this incredible town.

What experiences in your past have influenced you the most?

I have been fortunate to belong to churches that are deeply embedded in their communities and are part of the tapestry of the local culture. Those relationships extend beyond Sunday mornings and encompass neighbors who have different beliefs and backgrounds, who are all passionate about the place where they live and/or work. I believe everyone benefits when we work together.

What are the key qualities you bring to this position?

I have been a local church pastor for 14 years, first in South Glastonbury, and most recently in East Lansing. I am skilled at working with congregations through seasons of change and helping them grow, in every sense of the word. Even though it is not directly church related, I think my interest in improvisation helps a lot, both with having a sense of humor and keeping on my toes no matter what is unfolding in the church or the world around us.

What do you feel is the biggest challenge the congregation currently faces?

We are doing a new thing! It is unique for two congregations who are equals and vital in their own ways to join together to form a new church. That is exciting, but the challenge is that we are drawing our own road map. This congregation has already proven it has the skills, innovative spirit and dedication to do this, and I am excited to take on the challenge together.

How will you measure success in your role?

If in three years, church members can look back and name how God has been at work in their midst, and they have a sense of what they are called to do together next, that will feel like success.

Can you provide examples of projects or initiatives in your past that will help you in this new job?

For the last five years I was part of an initiative called Communities of Calling, with 15 churches across the United States and Canada. I studied how a church understands its mission and purpose, and how to nurture new callings in the church and as individuals. This project gave me a strong foundation in how to help an organization listen to the needs of its community, discern the gifts it has to offer, and live into a shared vision together.

How do you handle stressful situations and maintain composure under pressure?

My first instinct is to listen, ask questions, and then listen some more. If something feels urgent or overwhelming, that is usually a sign that I need to step back and take a wider view of the situation or bring in more conversation partners before acting or making a decision. I’m a stronger leader when I collaborate with others to problem-solve together instead of trying to solve everything on my own.

What are your hobbies?

I love being outdoors! In Michigan I belonged to a terrific triathlon team and love running, biking, and finding local ponds to swim in. I’m excited for the hiking opportunities in Granby. When the weather is too cold or wet to be outside, I’m also an avid quilter.

What do you do for fun?

My wife Beth and I love exploring where we live, whether it’s going out to restaurants or attending community events. We love kayaking together. I’m a big basketball fan and can’t wait to cheer on both the UConn Women and the Connecticut Sun teams.