Thursday, July 23, 2015

News & reviews

Various bits of feedback:

John A. Lapp, August 5, 2015:

One of my high-points was to see Ed Miller--Orie's grandson--who was helping with registration.  He was ecstatic in his enthusiasm for the book  He says he learned so much about Orie he had no awareness of--especially Orie as a controversial peace advocate. . . . Ed is so happy we organized to get it written and with the product.

John and Naomi Lederach enjoyed the book as have a number of others. They noted the Orie-HSB difference in what MWC should be.  They were pleased that Orie's desire for a non-doctrinal Assembly prevailed at Harrisburg.  So Orie was alive in Harrisburg and few were aware!!!

Book signing with Orie Miller's family, Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, July 17, 2015
L-R: Elvin and Laverne Martin, Anne Sensenig, Jean Sensenig, Ed and Twila Miller, Donald Sensenig

Sunday, June 7, 2015

My Calling to Fulfill: The Orie O. Miller Story (Order paperback and ebooks here)

Published by Herald Press, May 5, 2015.

$29.99 Paperback
$18.99 EPUB ebook (iBooks and Nook)
$18.99 MOBI ebook (Kindle)
To order go to

15 Things you didn't know about Orie O. Miller by Joe Springer, Mennonite Historical Library

Foreword by Editorial Committee (excerpts)

One of the major architects of North American Mennonite Church life in
the twentieth century was Orie O. Miller. Miller was born on an Indiana
farm in 1892. Most of his adult life he lived in Akron, Pennsylvania, the
hometown of his wife, Elta Wolf Miller. From this base he managed a
shoe manufacturing company and administered the increasingly worldwide
program of Mennonite Central Committee.

Although a successful business executive, Orie Miller had a primary
passion of ministering “in the name of Christ,” to quote words used for
almost one hundred years to describe one of the organizations he helped
found, Mennonite Central Committee. This ministry was rooted in local
congregations—Forks Mennonite near Middlebury, Indiana, and Ephrata
Mennonite in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. As a Goshen College student he
heard the call to service in international relief and reconstruction. After
experience in post-World War I Beirut and Constantinople, he was one of
the first North American Mennonites to enter Russia and the Ukraine as a
relief worker in 1920.

With this experience he quickly joined the administrative body of
Mennonite Central Committee, the major involvement of his life for
the next thirty-five years. As a business leader and church administrator
he also accepted responsibilities to the executive committees of two
mission boards, Goshen College, Mennonite World Conference, and a
variety of other church institutions. In retirement he continued to work
on the boards of Mennonite Economic Development Agency (MEDA),
Schowalter Foundation, Mennonite Christian Leadership Foundation
(MCLF), and a number of local involvements. . . .

—Editorial Committee
Robert S. Kreider, North Newton, Kansas
John A. Lapp (chair), Goshen, Indiana
Calvin Redekop, Harrisonburg, Virignia
Morris Sider, Grantham, Pennsylvania

Author's Preface (excerpts)

For his colleagues and protégés, Orie is unforgettable. Many describe
him in superlative terms as “the greatest man I ever knew” (Edgar Stoesz)
and as “the most remarkable Mennonite of his generation, perhaps of our
century” (Robert Kreider). But Orie Miller is relatively unknown to those
under sixty. I have come to think of this group—those in leadership roles
as well as those in the pew, those within the Mennonite and Brethren in
Christ household of faith and those beyond—as my primary audience.

The title of this book, My Calling to Fulfill, captures Orie’s lifelong
passion. He responded eagerly, obediently, and repeatedly to the call of
the church to help fulfill its mission to serve humanity. He found honor in
the church’s call, which he believed to be God’s primary means of calling
disciples and healing the nations. Orie was a servant, ready and willing to
go where called. He became a leader, persistent and tireless in calling others
to service.

Miller’s gift was administration—seeing a need, designing a solution,
clarifying its purposes, rallying the church’s support, and calling hundreds
to fulfill the mission. Multiple times he circled the globe, seeing a world
often troubled—broken by war, poverty, and disease. He recognized it as a
world that God loved, and for whom Jesus lived, taught, healed, and died.

Chapter 1, On Cloverdale Farm: 1892–1912 (excerpts)

“Our fathers gave both Harold Bender and me a home and church life advantage.”

On a wintry night in about 1912, Daniel D. Miller drove his horse and
carriage from his home on Cloverdale Farm near Middlebury, Indiana, to
Goshen College some fifteen miles away. Daniel, or D. D., was bundled up
against the snow, still falling after a midwestern blizzard the day before.
A trim man at five feet six inches and 125 pounds, he was also intense,
determined, and on a mission. D. D. was a widely traveled evangelist,
bishop of numerous Amish Mennonite (AM) congregations, and an officer
on various Mennonite Church boards. But tonight he was worried about
his oldest son, Orie. . . .

As Orie watched his father leave the campus and disappear into the
wintry night, he was suddenly moved by his father’s extraordinary effort
and concern. Even so, “I still felt that he needed the help more than I
did,” Orie remembered nearly fifty years later.3 Orie’s son John W. Miller
believes this book was formative for Orie, “open[ing] him to the world of
the Bible in a pragmatic sense,” rather than an ideological sense, which is
how fundamentalists viewed the Bible.”

Despite their occasional differences, Orie and his father maintained a
close relationship until D. D.’s death in 1955. They both, each in his generation,
had a profound effect on the church they loved.

Two Amish Families
Orie’s parents, Daniel D. (1864–1955) and Nettie (Jeanette) Hostetler
(1870–1938) Miller, were fifth- and sixth-generation descendants, respectively,
of Swiss Amish immigrants. Their ancestors were among the five
hundred Amish who emigrated between 1707 and 1774 from Switzerland,
France, and Germany. Both families settled in the Northkill Amish
community of Berks County, Pennsylvania, the earliest Amish settlement
in the New World.

A Clarion Call to Activism
In the spirit of the times, Mennonites and Amish Mennonites held a
large gathering in northern Indiana in 1892, the year Orie was born. This
was the first of three annual Sunday school conferences where leaders
rallied a new generation to “aggressive” and “progressive” programs
of mission, charity, and service. To facilitate such ministries, MC and
AM leaders enlarged the work of the Mennonite Evangelizing Board
(1892); founded Elkhart Institute (1895), forerunner of Goshen College;
and formed a binational denominational body, the Mennonite General
Conference (1897).

The Shaping of a Firstborn
Orie (Ora) Otis was born on July 7, 1892, three years after D. D. and
Nettie were married. Orie’s name was chosen to honor D. D.’s friend,
colleague, and former schoolteacher D. J. Johns, who was also the bishop
who ordained D. D. as deacon, minister, and later as bishop. In the five
years before Orie was born, D. J.’s wife, Nancy (Yoder) Johns, bore two
sons, one named Ora,15 and the other Otis,16 and the Millers called their
firstborn after these two. It was a name Orie never liked—typically, he
signed letters as “O. O. Miller.” Having begun the alliterative naming pattern,
matching his own, D. D. (or was it Nettie?) continued the form, perhaps
with a chuckle, in naming the rest of his sons: E. E. (Ernest Edgar),
T. T. (Trueman Titus), W. W. (William Wilbur), and S. S. (Samuel Silas).
The six daughters happily escaped the pattern and were named more conventionally:
Ida Mae, Clara Olivia, Kathryn Pearl, Bertha Elizabeth, Alice
Grace, and Mabel Ann.

Orie absorbed D. D.’s affection for the church. His father’s service and
the exposure to significant church leaders and activities prepared Orie for
a “momentous” event during the Christmas holidays of 1905. The preaching
of Daniel Kauffman at Forks church moved him to stand to signal his
readiness to identify with Christ and the church. Kauffman (1865–1944)
was then at an early stage of his long ministry as the most influential MC
leader of D. D. Miller’s generation; Orie was thirteen and the first of his
peers to respond to Kauffman’s invitation. In a nearby stream on April
1, 1906, Bishop D. J. Johns baptized Orie, along with a large group of
peers. This moment of conversion and the baptism that followed marked
the beginning of Orie’s lifelong loyalty to the church and his unusually
productive service to both the church and the world.31 Though Orie later
referred to this as his conversion, it was not so much a crisis experience as
it was marking a transition from childhood faith to owned faith, a lifelong
identification with the church and a commitment to serve Christ.

Student and Teacher
Orie finished high school in 1910. That fall he was back in the classroom—
as a part-time college student and as a teacher of country schools.
He taught for one year in a school north of Middlebury and a second year
at the Nihart School in York Township, between Middlebury and Goshen.
Both were one-room schools with eight grades, requiring the teacher
to prepare for twenty-six to thirty class periods per week. The Nihart
School souvenir card for 1911–12 lists thirty students, with such names as
Berkey, Artley, Nussbaum, Lockridge, and Nihart. On the cover is a photo
of Orie, hair neatly combed to the right in a small wave, his oval face and
narrow lips resembling his mother’s. Dressed in a double-breasted wool
suit and narrow necktie, he appears to be a no-nonsense teacher.

Chapter 2, Finding Life’s Work: 1912–1915 (excerpts)

“I may turn out to be of use somewhere in this old world with you helping me. Won’t we try hard,
Elta, dearest, to be of some use to society?”

As Orie was about to graduate from Goshen’s School of Business, he
received an important phone call from Noah Ebersole Byers, president
of Goshen College. Byers, scholarly and sophisticated, had served as
president of Elkhart Institute from 1898 to 1903, and then of its successor,
Goshen College, since 1903. Now he was recruiting a teaching
principal for Goshen’s School of Business, the program of study that Orie
was just completing. Would Orie be willing to fill that role beginning in

As soon as the spring term ended, Orie enrolled in the MacCormac
Business College on East Madison Street in downtown Chicago to take
advanced courses, in order to better prepare for his teaching role. He had
only the summer to do so.

Having begun his studies at Goshen in 1910, Orie already felt at home
on campus. His first association, however, dated from 1903, when his
father took ten-year-old Orie to a wheat field on the south side of Goshen.
It seemed to be a field like any other, until Orie learned that it was to
become the campus that would replace Elkhart Institute.3 Now he was on
that campus in a dual role. As a student, Orie was taking classes toward
a bachelor of arts degree in English; in his faculty post, he was replacing
his former teacher, Frank S. Ebersole, who had resigned after five years
of service.

Elta Wolf
In the spring of 1913, Orie began courting Susan Elta Wolf. The relationship
started with a double date. Orie and a friend had asked two women
for an evening out, but they had not decided how they would pair up. As
the two men waited for their dates to descend the stairs from their thirdfloor
rooms in Kulp Hall, Orie solved the problem by claiming as his date
the one who came down last. Though his plans were rarely so haphazard,
his choice was in character; he did not need to be the main man, nor did
his date need to be the foremost woman. The second woman down the steps that spring night was Elta Wolf, the woman he would marry in 1915.10 She was also the major factor in determining
his “life work,” as he often put it.

A Busy Summer
One catches a glimpse of Orie’s full schedule when later in June he found
himself at home on Cloverdale Farm with a case of the mumps. It required
a great deal of effort to find substitutes to teach his business courses, his
Bible class, and his Sunday school class; to chair the devotional committee;
to lead the Young People’s Bible Meeting; and to fill in as “master” of
the men’s dorm. His brother Ernest agreed to attend faculty meetings in
Orie’s place and do his janitorial work in the dorm. After this litany, Orie
said he had had no clue that “running a school” required so much effort!
There was no one who could do Orie’s twenty-hour student load, of
course. That he had to do himself.

Orie felt pulled in both directions. He had begun his postsecondary education
under the Byers administration, and Byers had hired him to teach.
The professors and administrators were his friends and mentors. Yet Orie
was also the son of D. D. Miller, a member of the MBE and of the executive
committee of the Indiana-Michigan Conference, both calling the college
to greater accountability to the church. While Orie became a lifelong
advocate for Goshen College, his greater loyalty was to the church. The
college, as all institutions, was to be a servant of the church.

An Akron Christmas
Orie spent the 1913 Christmas holidays with Elta in Akron. It was his
second visit, having met her parents earlier in the fall. During this festive
week, Orie proposed to Elta and they agreed to marry in September
1915, some twenty months down the road. Elta’s father, A. N. Wolf, and
his partners offered Orie a place in Miller Hess, so his vocational plans
seemed to be settled. They needed his skills and experience as a bookkeeper,
and A. N. wanted an apprentice who would eventually take his place
as wholesale shoe salesman. The Wolfs also planned to buy and remodel a
house across Main Street for Elta and Orie.

Summer 1914
By June 1914, summer school was in full swing. Orie was taking German
and algebra and teaching his usual business courses. He reported to Elta
the beginning of a construction project: teams of horses and graders were
excavating for a new science hall, the school’s third building, which would
not be finished until 1916. As in the previous year, Orie was responsible
for all student religious activities. He asked Elta to pray for wisdom to
make the right decision about his vocation and their future.

Perplexing Choices
Once again Orie worried about his future vocation. What had been
so gloriously clear last Christmas had quickly become murky. By mid-
September, his resolve returned. Innumerable conversations, particularly
with his father, led Orie back to his original commitment to Akron and
the shoe company.34 Elta and the Wolfs were, of course, relieved. Elta was
sympathetic to Orie’s sadness about moving so far away from his parents
and promised to build a close relationship with them by writing frequent
letters and visiting when possible.

Sights Set on Akron Again
In March, A. N. Wolf graciously reaffirmed his desire to have Orie work
for the company. The public nature of their family plan had compounded
Wolf’s distress. The entire Akron community knew he had purchased a
house on Main Street for Orie and Elta. At that very moment, carpenters
and plumbers were at work remodeling the house. A. N. assured Orie he
would not hold Orie’s vacillation against him. Wolf acknowledged Orie’s
desire to serve God and the church and assured him that God could use
Orie in Lancaster just as well as any other place. In fact, the Ephrata
church needed his gifts. “I am very sure if the Lord does not want you to
be in the shoe business or to live in Lanc[aster] Co[unty], he will find you
here and put you in the right place.”

From Indiana Farm to Pennsylvania City
In June 1915, Orie received his bachelor’s degree in English from Goshen
College. In addition to his English concentration, he had taken a wide
variety of liberal arts courses such as history, astronomy, physiology, and
German. His grades were evenly divided between As and Bs. . . .

One can hardly overestimate the influence of Goshen College on
Orie. There he formed a network of friends and colleagues, mentors and
teachers—relationships he would continue to nurture to the end of his
life. There he met Elta, with whom he would share life for forty-three
years. Goshen gave him a broad liberal arts education with a concentration
in classical literature and an introduction to systematic theology and
biblical studies. From his faculty post, he observed the church at work.
Theological wrangling and partisan politics among church leaders that
could have caused Orie to become cynical, as it did some of his peers,
instilled in him instead a sense that the church and its institutions were
worthy of his loyalty and service. Whether east or west, at its best or its
worst, the church was still the body of Christ.

On July 7, his twenty-third birthday, Orie was reflective. His first
twenty-three years had prepared him for the next twenty-three, which he
expected to be his most productive years. He was beginning to make the
mental transition. His Indiana