Woodworking as Prayer

Taught by Verlin Miller

January 11, 1:30-2:30 pm in the Jennings Auditorium, Greencroft Community Center

In the business of making entries and exits: A retrospective of my work and thoughts making entry doors for churches, Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s. Reverence for wood: standing between the tree and the entry and exits. He has come to see the door-making work as a gift of spiritual practice. The meaning of prayer and handwork: reverence, risk, and readiness. Sometimes the prayer has been “HELP!”

Verlin Miller grew up in this area. He graduated from Bethany in 1964, then from Goshen College with a degree in English. He says. “I mostly wanted to read books, less concerned about grammar, as my wife reminds me often.” He studied for three + years at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and then immersed himself at the Fellowship of Hope Intentional Christian Community. There he met his wife, Elaine Guengerich, a Goshen College graduate working as a nurse. They have three married sons and six grandchildren. “Since the children live from Boston to Eugene, Oregon, and Evanston in between, that gives us a reason to travel.”

Verlin discovered a passion for woodworking and housebuilding and found work with a local builder of thoughtfully designed houses. Jim Ryman taught him much, and Verlin built his first doors while working for Jim in the mid-1970s. He worked for the Fellowship of Hope owned business, Hope Builders, until 1985. He also taught industrial arts for a year at Bethany before starting a business. Verlin says, “I always dreamed of building my own house and all the furniture in it. I have mostly done that, though there are a few details yet to do. A friend once told me of a proverb, ‘The man who finishes his house dies.’ I hope to live a long life.”