NTS is grateful to Mrs. Marolyn Miner for sharing the following tribute to her late husband, Rev. Dr. James Miner. Mrs. Miner writes fondly of Dr. Miner’s passion for learning, his love for NTS, and his commitment to ministry, even after facing great challenges. Her words remind us not to wait to express thanks to those who have impacted us.
Jim became an ardent student of the Word from the time he was saved in his teen years. He was called to preach during his sophomore year of college. He devoured the Bible classes by Drs. A. E. Sanner and Morris Weigelt at Northwest Nazarene College (now University). He planned to attend seminary after college graduation, but his plans were interrupted by the arrival of his second daughter.
The fall after he graduated college he was asked to fill the pulpit at the McCall Church of the Nazarene in the mountains of Idaho. After the second Sunday, they asked him to be their pastor. He studied hard to prepare the sermons for his people whether it was 25 or 120. He often called one of his college professors seeking advice on biblical passages. He wanted to preach the Word accurately. After three years in McCall, while Dr. William Greathouse was the camp meeting speaker, he felt God telling him it was time for further study at NTS.
He loved his time of learning at NTS. Some younger, inexperienced students would avoid classes taught by some professors that they thought were too difficult. Jim purposefully chose those classes and excelled in them. Because he had been a pastor for three years before attending seminary, he knew the questions that people were asking and that he had as a pastor. He graduated with more credit hours than were needed because he was in it for the education, not the degree.
Following graduation from NTS, Jim pastored the Church of the Nazarene in Sierra Vista, AZ, a community 70 miles southeast of Tucson and about 20 miles north of Mexico. He wanted his congregation to be fed theologically sound doctrine through the preaching of the Word and with the new tools he received in seminary he was prepared to do so. He studied hard each week to feed his people. His daughter remembers him sitting in a chair in the living room studying on Saturdays. It was the final day of preparation for the all important Sunday. In all of his pastorates, he also provided them with extra “meals” by inviting NTS professors to be speakers such as Willard Taylor (we believe that he preached his last revival service at our Sierra Vista church the spring before he passed away), William Greathouse, John Knight, Morris Weigelt, Alex Deasley, and Chic Shaver.
In 1985 he received a call to the Kansas City Hillcrest Church and entered into another time of sharing the best of God Word with his people. Into this mix was the opportunity to minister to seminary students and their families. There were many questions and comments from the NTS students and at times he wondered if he was helping these young ministers at all. But communications we have received from many of them recently indicate that he did help them see the value of their seminary training. He set an example for these students by auditing classes from the one professor they thought was ‘way over their heads.’ His advice to them was, “take as many classes as you can from him. You will learn a lot and value it later.”
In 1995 after having ministered to the people of the Dumas, TX church for two years, he thought that his ministry was over. He had suffered a pulmonary embolism and almost died. After trying to stay in the pastorate for eight months following his hospital stay, it was determined that he no longer had the strength it takes to pastor a church. He envisioned himself selling shoes at a retail store someplace. However, God had other plans for him.
The Adult Ministries Department at Nazarene Headquarters needed a part-time, temporary employee to assist with the ministry to senior adults. He loved senior adults and wrote his D. Min. dissertation on “Emerging Issues and Strategies in Mature Adult Ministries in the Church of the Nazarene.” Following two years of temporary work, he became a regular, full time employee. In the retreats he coordinated he again chose several speakers from NTS who would “feed” the people that God had placed in his responsibility. He didn’t want them to just be entertained, but also nourished with solid spiritual food.
Five years later God led him to a position in the World Mission office. During the next five years he sought God’s will for what would best help the missions office and the missionaries they were serving. He, along with John Cunningham developed a program with NTS where missionary candidates came to Kansas City for six months of training which included classes at the seminary. Dr. Roger Hahn, Dean of the Seminary, was a great asset it developing this program.
In 2003 Jim developed a brain disease that slowly robbed him of his memory, motor, and cognitive skills. When he finally had to take disability in 2005, he did not give up doing something for the Lord. Although he was limited in what he could do, he could pray. Because he had been in World Mission, he had a great passion to pray for the missionaries and leaders around the world. He would not only pray for people, but he would also call those he prayed for to encourage them.
Pastors often don’t know the impact they are having on their people and those around them. Since Jim has become terminally ill, he has received phone calls, texts via his wife’s phone and Facebook messages from former parishioners telling him the great impact he made on their lives. Comments such as “he shaped my faith as a child”, “he mentored and befriended me as a new, young pastor”, “he taught me discipleship”, “he was my friend” have been an encouragement to him. Don’t wait until it is too late to tell someone what a great influence and encouragement they have been in your life.