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Our Very Special Guests This Month Pastor Phil Weaver Pays Tribute To Garry And Jeanann Miller

Loughborough Church Sunderland New Springs - MillersWhat an absolute joy it is to welcome our very good friends Pastor Garry and Jeanann Miller back to Loughborough as they visit us from over the pond in the USA.

It’s some years since they have been here, but it’s a real thrill and privilege to see them again.

Garry and Jeanann have made the trip in particular to be with us as we celebrate our special 20th Anniversary as a church.

The Millers were with us almost from the very beginning and it was they who worked tirelessly with Pastors Phil and Helen to plant and establish a new church congregation in Loughborough, which was to be called New Springs. In fact, when we started we went under the name of New Springs International Christian Church. It was many years later that we changed the name to New Springs City Church to better reflect our overall vision. That said, our vision right from the very beginning was always “to create and build a Centre of Excellence designed and equipped to meet the spiritual, mental, physical, emotional and social needs of society; a Centre reaching out to the lost and hurting known as Gospel City which will bring glory to God and have the reputation of being Christ-centred in all its endeavours.”  Right from day one our vision has never changed and neither has our mission; it’s still the same to this day, ‘to be and to make authentic disciples of Jesus Christ.”

It was Garry and Jeanann Miller, all those years ago who helped us to literally shape, fashion, mould, develop and articulate that vision by putting legs on it to make it the reality it is today. To be honest everything we do today was in some way forged and fashioned back then. That’s why we have so much to thank the Millers for in God – they really were a significant part of carving out and framing who we are today!

Many moons ago, for eight years or so, Helen and I pastored and led the Elim Pentecostal Church in Loughborough. It was there we first met Garry Miller. He brought and led a team of missioners from the States to work for two or three weeks in the Church. It was then that an amazing friendship and partnership was forged between the Millers and the Weavers. Phil and Helen still to this day consider the Millers to be amongst their very best friends. Helen and Jeanann still talk on the phone three or four times a month and we have also been to their home in America several times over the years to just spend some time together.

In the latter part of 1996 when the Holy Spirit called Helen and myself to leave the Regional Superintendent’s role within the Elim Pentecostal Church Movement, to plant and establish the New Springs work here in Loughborough it was never going to be an easy move. At the time I was ministering in a ‘Bishop’s’ type of role in the Capital looking after what was known as the Metropolitan and East Anglian Region. I was overseeing no less than 130 Church congregations and 200 Ministers. Life was busy, ministry was plentiful and we felt we were experiencing a real move of God.   But over a short period of time we felt the Holy Spirit leading us to give this strategic role up along with the very favourable salary and remuneration package that came with it. He was calling us to come back to Loughborough to start all over again and to live by faith again so that we might set up a new ministry organisation – what we now know as New Springs UK.

Believe me, it was no easy decision at the time – but God was clear and this was exactly what we were to do. So the decision was made, I submitted my resignation, which I must say didn’t go down all that well with the ‘powers that be’ at the time. And the four of us, Helen, myself and our two young teenage sons.

Nath and Matt set off back to the East Midlands with some fear and trepidation to fulfil the call of the Lord for our lives. We couldn’t help wondering how it was all going to pan out – and who was there to help us?  It was precisely at that time that I received an unexpected phone call from America – it was none other than my friend Garry Miller. At the time he was the Associate and Assistant Pastor of the 2,000 strong church congregation known as ‘The Tabernacle’ in Sarasota on the Florida coast. I believe at that precise moment in time they knew nothing of our impending move.  After the normal pleasantries, the conversation went something like this, “Hey Phil, Jeanann and I have been praying about our future and we believe God is leading us to move to England to be involved in mission and church planting with you.” Although in truth it took me aback a little, this was so obviously God. I explained to Garry how God was leading Helen and myself. The end result was the Weavers started the new work in Loughborough and less than 10 months later the Millers joined us here in the England with their two young children, Justin and Kara. For several months they even lived with us. Happy days, very happy days!

I remember both couples really had to sacrifice back in those days. Neither of us received a salary for quite a number of years. We all lived by faith. In fact, the Millers never received any remuneration from New Springs whatsoever all the time they were with us. They actually committed themselves to raising their own funding from friends and family back in America. For more than five years they financed themselves in this way. In those early days there was just no money whatsoever left for any of us to receive anything at all. That’s the nature of pioneer work for you! But God always proved faithful to both families and somehow Jehovah Jireh the great provider sustained, kept and provided for us all. Yet, what all this shows is the real heart of Garry and Jeanann Miller. They are such hard working, generous and sacrificial people who constantly give their whole lives for the cause of Christ.

For the five years they were with us they totally threw themselves into the work doing all they could to establish and grow our then fledgling and very fragile little church.  Garry became the Worship Leader and made major inroads into the university by being appointed as the very first New Church/Free Church Chaplain. Incidentally a role that Pastor Helen was appointed too after Pastor Garry went back to the States. He also played a significant part alongside Pastor Phil in researching and framing the unique ministry philosophy and ethos that New Springs has – which we simply call The 10, 20, 30 Model. That’s our 10 Foundational Beliefs, our 20 Core Values and our 30 Unique Characteristics.

What’s more, as soon as they arrived Jeannie started the youth work with a significant number of the more excluded kids from the various council estates, a work that has stood us in good stead right throughout the years and a work that is still going on today flourishing and growing. But it all started way back then with Jeannie.

Now all this was shrouded with a backcloth of controversy. At that particular time we and New Springs weren’t particularly welcomed in Loughborough with open arms. The other church leaders in the town were very suspicious of us and we weren’t readily accepted. There were all types of rumours and sometimes downright lies flying around about us. In some ways it was understandable, but it was a tough time, it really was – but what could we do? God had called us and He’d clearly given us a job to do. All we could do was trust God to sort it all out, which He eventually did – but it took a number of years. That’s exactly why we really thank God He sent the Millers to be with us at exactly that time to stand shoulder to shoulder with us and to encourage us in the work to which God had called us. There is no doubt; God’s fingerprints were all over the Millers coming to the UK.  God sent them just for us.

Pastor Garry and Jeanann Miller are amazing people with hearts and lives that are brimming with the very life and anointing of the Holy Spirit. They are incredibly giving people and two of the most talented, kind hearted and gracious people you would ever wish to meet. Garry is one of the most creative people I’ve ever met. He’s one of those people who have a hundred superb ideas every day. He’s also a theologian at heart. His grasp and command of scripture is outstanding. We spent many an hour discussing and debating Scripture together – I loved it and I very much miss it if I were to be totally honest. Their home was always open and still is. Their hospitality gift truly is second to none – it always has been!

It is just great to be able to welcome them to our 20th Annual Gala Banquet Celebration this year – especially as they were there at our very first one twenty years ago.  If I remember right we held it in the Kings Head Hotel and there were just under forty folk in attendance.

Garry and Jeanann now live in Traverse City in Michigan where they serve as District Directors of ‘Chi-Alpha Campus Ministries’ working with the Assemblies of God. A ministry involved in establishing, growing, developing and reconciling students to Christ, equipping them through Spirit filled communities of prayer, worship, fellowship, discipleship and mission to transform the university, the marketplace and the world.

All in all, we as a church are deeply indebted to Garry and Jeanann Miller for the significant part they have played in the history and development of New Springs.

Thank you Garry, thank you Jeannie, from the bottom of our hearts. May God reward and prosper you. And don’t forget the best chapters of your life and ministry are still to written! We love you and we value you more than you will ever know! God has certainly used you in our ministry at New Springs. Thank you in Jesus name!

We are absolutely thrilled to be able to announce that Pastor Garry and Jeanann will be speaking at New Springs at the morning service on Sunday 25th September 2016. Now you won’t want to miss that one!