As our nation mourns the untimely death of the King of Pop, I am grieving over the death of a lesser know man: a man whom many will never know, but whose mark on the world is significant. Two weeks ago, Rev. Chad Miller, Associate Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware, and longtime supporter of Sojourners, died at the early age of 34 years old in a kayaking accident. His death is not only a personal loss, but a loss for the faith-based movement for social justice.
I met Chad at a Sojourners mobilization several years ago when I first began my work as Field Organizer with Sojourners. His warm smile, hearty laugh, and friendly disposition were unforgettable. New to the world of faith-based social activism, I didn't know what to expect when it came to working with our grassroots partners "in the field." Would they welcome me into their world even though I was an outsider from D.C.? Would they stay active over the years, or would they vanish as soon as campaigns or conferences were over? Chad's hospitality taught me early on that we are all in this work together. His consistency and commitment to Sojourners over the years challenged the cynic in me -- Chad showed me that for some people, putting faith into action is simply a way of life that doesn't change over time.
Chad represents to me one of the unsung heroes of this growing movement of young evangelicals working for God's kingdom of peace and justice. Chad took his faith in Christ seriously. So seriously that he devoted his life to the church, fed the hungry, and ministered to the sick. But he didn't stop there. Chad desired justice for all of God's children. I recall four years ago when Chad's thirst for justice took him to the Capitol as a part of Sojourners' Budgets are Moral Documents campaign. Protesting budget cuts that would disproportionately affect the poorest in our nation, Chad participated in a peaceful witness, which resulted in his arrest. That was the Chad I knew. A man willing to follow Christ's bidding whatever the cost.
At Chad's memorial service, Dr. Anne Ledbetter prayed,