STILLWATER, Okla. —
The Rev. Calvin Miller celebrates nine years with Mount Zion Baptist Church Sunday with special services scheduled at 10:45 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., March 21. Mt. Zion is at Ninth and Knoblock. The services are open to the public.
Speaking for the morning service is the Rev. Imogene Murray, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Pawnee. The afternoon speaker is Oscar Adams Sr., pastor of St. Mark Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.
Miller, a Mississippi native, began his preaching ministry 36 years ago and served as associate minister at Mt. Zion, St. Peter in Tulsa, and First Baptist Church-Bracktown in Lexington, Ky. He was ordained in 1982 and was pastor at St. Paul Baptist Church in Binger for 13 years and later Mt. Calvary in Chandler. He became the pastor of Mt. Zion in January 2001.
He was raised by his grandmother and great-uncle.
“My grandmother was the one who encouraged me. They believed in the scripture,” Miller said.
While Miller was brought up in a faithful household, it wasn’t until he was a student at Mississippi Gulf Coast Junior College that spirituality became forefront in his life. One night, a group of students broke curfew to hold church on the college lawn.
As more and more people saw what they were doing, they joined them, Miller said.
“It was a religious explosion with emphasis on praising God. It was great,” he said. “I looked back and said, I saw the cross. From that experience, life was different. I still lived and had challenges, but I’d seen the cross that night, and it was different.”
Miller received a bachelor degree from Oklahoma State, theological training through the Johnson Memorial Bible Institute, and a master's degree in theology from Southern Nazarene University.
His career as a football coach spans many years and includes Langston University, University of Tulsa, Oklahoma State University, University of Kentucky, Southern Nazarene and University of Central Oklahoma. He played professionally in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants, with the Canadian Football League, and the World Football League.
“I had trained hard. I wanted to be the best in everything I did,” Miller said. He agreed that it is unusual for a preacher to also be a pro athlete. One of his coaches brought him aside one day to speak with him about how his faith affected playing with the team.
Miller said he told him, “Your Christian emphasis on this team has made a great difference, and I want to tell you how much I appreciate it.”
Miller was coaching football until last month, traveling great distances several times a week.
“I still love coaching, the fire is still there, but I need to be here,” he said. “There is a lot of work to be done here.”
Miller said that Mt. Zion has a special place in his heart.
“It’s very unique, no other like it,” he said.
Mt. Zion has existed as an organized church for nearly 92 years.
Miller and his wife, Dee, have three children and four grandchildren. While Miller chose faith over the six-figure salaries of professional football playing and coaching long ago, he said he has no regrets.
“I get a fulfillment each Sunday and each day when I help homeless people, help a family or hug a child,” Miller said. “When I make a difference, I receive my award.”