BY TOM DALTON
---- — SALEM — Thursday is usually a day of contemplation for Guy Miller, the pastor of Remix Church, one of the newest Christian congregations in the city.
That is the day the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary graduate heads to his small office on Ward Street to write his Sunday sermon. It is quiet there, and he can think.
But Miller hasn’t written a lot of sermons lately, nor has he done much preaching or thinking. That task has been turned over to two members of his staff. Life for Miller and his wife, Tana, co-pastor of the church, has been a little crazy in recent months.
“It’s been very difficult for me to concentrate ...” the 45-year-old Miller said with a smile. “I can’t think about anything for more than 10 minutes ...”
This Thursday, when he should be writing a sermon, Miller will be with his wife in Los Angeles getting ready for the taping of “American Idol,” the smash Fox TV show. Although they like the show, that’s not the reason they make almost weekly 6,000-mile, round trips to LA.
The couple, who met in Bible college, sit in the audience to support a 19-year-old girl who, until recently, had been a key part of their worship service. Their daughter, Angela, known to the TV and entertainment world as Angie, is one of the show’s four finalists.
The Millers are in an unusual position. They are under orders from Fox not to talk to the media about the show or their daughter. During an interview about Remix Church at Jaho, a local coffee shop, Miller was careful to keep the conversation on his church, which, as it turns out, is a story in itself.
Remix holds its Sunday services inside Bentley Elementary School, making it the only house of worship in the city located in a public school. It is an offshoot of Calvary Christian Church in Lynnfield, an Assemblies of God, conservative evangelical congregation.
“The impetus to plant a church (in Salem) came from Calvary,” said Miller, wearing a blue “American Idol” T-shirt.
This is the third new church started by Calvary Christian, which has grown dramatically in recent years, according to Miller.
The Millers came to Salem last fall with 50 members from the Lynnfield church. The congregation has doubled in size since then, he said.
Remix opened in September, or shortly after Angie’s tryout for “American Idol.” Angie — he calls his daughter Angela or Ange but never Angie — stayed active with her parents’ new church right into the winter.
With both parents serving as co-pastors, Angie and her older brother, Jonathan, 21, were key parts of the worship service. While she played the piano and sang, Jonathan, who is in a band, sang and played four instruments.
“Our son is way more musical,” Miller said.
While Miller wouldn’t, or couldn’t, discuss his daughter’s musical background, he did talk about his wife’s. He clearly remembers the first time he heard Tana sing in chapel at Valley Forge Christian College in Pennsylvania. Her voice, he said, was powerful, pure and moving.
There have been times, he said, when Tana finished singing and the audience sat in stunned silence.
“She sings with an anointing, I believe, from God,” he said.
Much has been made of his daughter’s piano playing. Although Miller didn’t take any credit, or even comment on it, he described himself as a self-taught piano player who didn’t start playing until he was 33.
Music and religion are interwoven parts of Miller’s life. He even has a Psalm 149 tattoo on his right arm depicting a sword and musical notes.
As everyone knows, the Millers live in Beverly, and Angie went to Beverly High.
But Salem is also the family’s home.
Miller said he is thankful to Bentley Principal Renata McFarland and her staff for making the church feel so welcome. Church members have tried to return the good will, volunteering at school functions, most recently a spaghetti supper.
“We’re here just to be a blessing to the city,” he said. “We love Salem.”
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.