July 31, 2014

By Fred Koenig

John Miller’s entry into the United Methodist Church was not uncommon: he grew up Baptist, and he married a Catholic. “We split the difference,” he said. 
    
While they both may have thought they were compromising at first, what they found at Platte Woods UMC was the best of the both worlds – a church steeped in tradition with a vibrant worship, but also a host of faith development programming, a passion for mission and opportunities for outreach. 
    
Miller went to the University of Missouri for a degree in broadcast journalism, but while there he had a change of heart. The thought of moving around the country to work his way up through the ranks of television stations didn’t appeal to him. And he didn’t like the side of it that leaned more toward entertainment than information. But he did like his political science classes, and decided to stay at MU and pursue a law degree. After earning that, he returned to the Platte Woods area, and has been practicing law there for 30 years. 
    
“I’m still a news junky,” he said. “I watch MSNBC, CNN and Fox News. I like hearing from all sides. Online I’ll read the Drudge Report, and Huffington Post.” 
    
Miller brought that open mind to church, and he brought a willingness to lead. He started out on the evangelism committee, and enjoyed doing Monday evening follow-up visits to first time visitors. He has also served on the staff parish committee, administrative council, finance team and leadership team. 
    
One of Miller’s passions in the church is JPEG – the Justice, Peace, Environmental Group that was started by Rev. Megan Sly when she was an associate pastor at the church. 
    
Last year Miller worked with as organization called Communities Creating Opportunity – or CCO, to try to bring reforms to payday loan regulations. Missouri has some of the most lax payday loan laws in the country. 
    
“Lack of regulation allows the payday loan industry to prey on society’s most vulnerable people,” Miller said. “The average borrower is a single mother. A car breaks down or a furnace goes out, and they get into a debt spiral that they can’t escape.”