As the Rev. Andrew Miller makes his rounds around the historic DeSoto County Square, he is quick to shake a hand or ask about a family member.
Miller, who is pastor of New Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Southaven, not only believes in ministering to the people but his entire life and ministry has been one dedicated to the people he serves and a ministry that he takes to the streets - literally.
"Everything to me that I am involved in is a ministry," said Miller who is just a few days shy of his 67th birthday. "Everything that I do is a ministry in which I can help people. I believe in serving others. As an alderman, I am serving others. That's a ministry. Everything that you do affects people's lives - not just on Sunday morning."
Miller is now the elder statesman serving on the Hernando Board of Aldermen.
"I don't look at it as being an elected official but being a servant," Miller said. "When I was elected in 1989, I wanted to have safe and affordable housing for people. Affordable housing affects more people than some people want to admit."
Miller previously served as the former President of the DeSoto County Housing and Human Development agency, taking over as executive director of that group in 1997.
"We were fortunate to lead a nonprofit group that helped rehab 30 houses in the West End," Miller said. "It was a partnership between Sacred Heart, Rural Development and BancorpSouth."
"That was an opportunity for me to see the fruits of that labor," Miller said. "We had a good nonprofit board in good partnership with the city. We had good diversity on the board. For a while we had our sitting Supreme Court Justice Bobby Chamberlin on our board. It crossed all the lines. I don't feel that you can minister effectively to a person until you have met their physical as well as their spiritual needs."
Miller and his wife Sandra have been married for 44 years.
"The Lord blessed us with two boys," said Miller, referring to sons Terence, who is a special education teacher and basketball coach at Hernando Middle School and Adrian, who works in the corporate offices of Morris Corporation in Rogers, Ark.
Miller said his love for the community keeps him going.
"If you don't have a love for people, I don't know that you can become a minister," Miller said. "You have to be genuine or you can't effectively minister to people."
Over the years, Miller said he has enjoyed watching his community grow.
I know when I came on the board we had 3,500 people and now we have 16,000, Miller said. "One of the things that I think has helped us is that we still have a sense of community pride. We have the A'Fair, the Water Tower Festival, the Fourth of July Parade and the Veterans Day Parade."
Miller, who served with the Mississippi Army National Guard, spent 32 years wearing the uniform in both an active and reserve duty. Miller first served with the 108th Armored Cavalry and later with the 155th and retired in 2003.
Miller said his favorite Bible passage is Philippians 4:13.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
"I think you have to reflect on what you do," Miller said. "I think you have to ask yourself are the things you are doing making a difference. The answer is 'yes.' I see that the Lord has manifested Himself in all the things that I do."
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.