A Beautiful Thing

Carlisle and Irene Miller

‘Irene Miller has done a beautiful thing’ – Matthew 26:10

When Brenda and I pulled our small U-Haul into Andalusia on June 5, 1967, Irene and Carlisle Miller were waiting there to welcome us to our very first appointment.

Carlisle was serving at the time as Executive Director of the Alabama-West Florida Conference Headquarters which was located there in Andalusia.  Three years later, February 1, 1970, when I was appointed to First United Methodist  Church of Bonifay, Irene and Carlisle stopped by our home in Andalusia, while we were loading all of our belongings, to bid us farewell.

When I was appointed to First United Methodist Church of Montgomery on November 15, 1983, it was Carlisle who introduced us to the congregation, and it was Irene who played her violin on that very first Sunday.

Across the 40 years that I was privileged to serve as a United Methodist minister within the Alabama-West  Florida Conference, Irene was always there to play her violin for a worship service, wedding, funeral, or some other special occasion.  Through the years, she was a member of Symphonies in Duluth, Minnesota; Meridian, Mississippi; Pensacola, Florida, as well as in Mobile and Montgomery.  She founded the “Serendipity Strings.”  I recall that on one occasion, Irene was chosen to play for a John Denver Concert.  However, Irene’s most unforgettable musical performance for me was at our 1983 Annual Conference when Carlisle retired. It was a great surprise to all of the delegates gathered for the
retirement service that year at Huntingdon College when Bishop Frank L. Robertson invited Irene up on stage to play
her violin in honor of  Carlisle and all of the other retirees. It was then that Irene broke loose with “The Orange Blossom Special” and “Fiddlers’ Hoedown.” Needless to say, Irene received a standing ovation!

We received another great surprise from Irene on August 9 in the form of a $500,000.00 check from her estate.  What a beautiful gesture on her part!  Irene had attended the banquet honoring our donors last year and heard the stories of our seminary students. In response, she made the decision to do something significant through a codicil to her will to assist our seminary students both now and in the future. In preparing a eulogy for the service of resurrection that was held for Irene, I stumbled across a beautiful quotation, “Life is like a violin.  Th e music may stop now and then, but the strings remain forever!”  We give thanks to God that through Irene’s great gift, her legacy will remain with us forever!
-Karl K. Stegall

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