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Rev. Clinton Miller celebrates his ninth year at the head of an historic Clinton Hill church this week, but his reputation precedes him.
The 42-year-old Brooklyn-born ministry man has been an outspoken figurehead at the Brown Memorial Baptist Church for both the borough’s African-American and church communities — lecturing in some arenas as a politician, but mostly as a conduit for the good word.
“I wanted to be a lawyer once,” Miller told The Brooklyn Paper. “But I realized that my desire for social justice and equality would be much better served here, through worship.”
So much for Glenn Beck’s famous condemnation of social justice as merely synonyms for Communism.
Since his vocation in ministry kicked off in 1994, Miller has developed youth programs in several New York churches, taught in the public school system and continues to preach, always downplaying his self-importance.
But the Yale Divinity School graduate’s political voice is an influential one — he was sought after for his word on the Obama vote, courted the then-campaigning Hillary Clinton at a rally to honor Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and has even taken a leadership role against the Atlantic Yards project. He said on Sunday that he wants his community to have access to affordable housing rather than a new Nets stadium, but noted the importance of the jobs that the project would create.
It’s the social-power-through-worship mentality that has made Miller so popular among his peers and churchgoers alike. That said, it was no surprise on Sunday when his packed Baptist church — on Washington and Gates avenues — exploded with applause when he took the pulpit.
The 1858 church hall is currently an aesthetic mess of scaffolding as it goes through a $7-million refurbishing, but that didn’t stop Miller and his guest speaker — Rev. Stephen Carter of the Mt. Ararat Baptist Church in Crown Heights — from leading a sermon with conviction, emotion and a few dance moves that could have brought the house down.
A funky band of organ, bass and drum kicks backed up a howling, uproarious choir that left its guests dancing and screaming “Hallelujah!”
It’s all in the name of a higher power.
“When you come into this church, you come in to honor and love God,” said Carter at the proceedings. “[Miller] is dedicated to that worship. Isn’t it good to have a pastor who stands up for the community?”
Carter’s words were met with a standing ovation, a 15-minute dance party, and an entire community brought together by a man who dedicated his life to spreading the word.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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