Ron Miller is thankful for his relationship with the lord, his family and his community. Mr. Miller, 71, of Auburn Township chose to become a pastor almost 28 years ago while working as a general contractor and after being miraculously saved by a group of faithful friends.

Today, Mr. Miller is the pastor at New Hope Christian Fellowship Church in Auburn Township, a Bible-based non-denominational Christian church originally founded in 1993 in Welshfield.

The ongoing pandemic widened the mission of his church.

“It’s a great blessing to be able to help people in the community when we’re aware of the need,” he said.

The pastor and his wife Chris were called to New Hope 11 years ago through a chain of what they described as miraculous events and were able to purchase and renovate a former school building at the corner of Washington Street and Auburn Road in Auburn Township.

“After I went to school and a whole series of events, God led me to being a pastor of this tiny country church for a number of years and we’ve been able really, by God’s grace, to buy the school and 7 acres [and] totally remodel a building,” he said, adding that he and the congregation are very blessed.

The Millers were brought up in a denominational church and met in 1980 while attending First Assembly of God in Lyndhurst, Ohio, marrying in 1983 and immediately serving in the children’s ministry.

Mr. Miller went on to work with the Rev. Dennis Heber of Bible Revivals Ministry and eventually joined him traveling to Jamaica, Haiti and different parts of the United States ministering the gospel.

Beyond remodeling the old school building, Mr. Miller said the congregation has reached out for the community in a number of ways including the start of a fall festival raising a significant amount of money for Geauga and Lake County drug rehabilitation center programs as well as the Geauga County Safety Center, used to house prisoners.

The New Hope community also reached out to the Auburn Township Fire Department while the new fire facility was being built by cooking for them in the church parking lot.

“We also allow [youth ball leagues] every year to use our two fields,” he said.

Mr. Miller said the Auburn community needs reassurance that God is in control as the country works through the pandemic and periods of unrest.

“I think we all just need reassurance and peace and have a deeper relationship with the lord, we all need that right now to get through this crazy year,” he said.

The pandemic has had a challenging impact on the way New Hope has been able to reach out to people and conduct services. “We put all kinds of sanitizing stations throughout the building, we moved all of the chairs into groups of three or four so you know wherever you sit you’re 5 to 6 feet away from everybody else,” Mr. Miller said.

Even with mask wearing and temperature checks, many were uncomfortable coming to services, so it has been very challenging reaching out to people, he said. “Parents I know are stressed with trying to work through school and homeschooling and stay-at-home jobs and what all of that details, so I think it’s a challenging time for everybody.”

At Thanksgiving, the pastor said, “I’m very thankful for my church family who have bonded together and are working through these challenging times.”

The pastor said being able to assist others helps to take your mind off of your own thoughts, concerns and worries.

“My father used to have a saying: ‘I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I saw a man with no feet.’ You know somebody is always struggling with something worse than you, so it’s helpful to keep our eyes focused on helping others, and that’s just what we’re going through.”

The pastor and his wife have five children and eight grandchildren.

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