A NEWS RELEASE
From the Office of the Bishop
Winnipeg, May 27, 2002 (ELCIC) – The Rev. Michael Mills, OSA, is named the 2002 Companion of the Worship Arts. Companion of the Worship Arts (CWA) is an honour bestowed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) in recognition of significant contribution to the worship life of the ELCIC. The honour recognizes ongoing inspiration and encouragement to others, and service to God, through worship, spirituality and the arts.
Past laureates have included Paul Bosch, a learned teacher of liturgy, Don Johnson, a long-time advocate for liturgical formation and renewal and Margaret Harms, a celebrated church musician.
Pastor Mills, of Toronto, Ontario, is an accomplished liturgical artist and designer. He is perhaps most widely known in the ELCIC for his engaging and elegant design of the worship space for the 1997 ELCIC National Convention held in Toronto. Thanks in no small measure to Pastor Mills and his team, worship, as a medium for welcome, really came into its own at the 1997 convention!
Pastor Mills was a leader at the Eastern Synod's Discovery '99 where his lovely Covenant Triptych, on loan from the ELCIC's national collection, formed part of his presentation. Pastor Mills was an artist in residence at River of Life, the ELCIC's 1998 national worship conference.
Pastor Mills designed the logo -- the familiar image of a presiding minister entreating people to "lift up their hearts" in the eucharistic liturgy -- for Lift Up Your Hearts, the ELCIC's 1996 national worship conference. The image has since served on the splash page of the ELCIC’s Lift up Your Hearts worship and spirituality web site <www.worship.ca.> where a number of Pastor Mills’ works can be found. Pastor Mills designed the medal awarded to the ELCIC's Companions of the Worship Arts. The original is also part of the national collection of the church.
Pastor Mills has a special concern for the environment for worship. He has been in demand as a consultant in connection with the redesign and refurbishment of congregational worship spaces. He has served on a number of worship planning teams for a variety of synodical and national conventions and similar events. He has also served as a presenter and worship leader at Eastern Synod spiritual retreats.
In October 2001, Pastor Mills, through a juried exhibition of his peers, was accepted into the Ontario Society of Artists. The OSA was founded in 1872 and is Canada's oldest continuously operating art society. The list of objectives drawn up by the founding executive included the fostering of original art, the holding of annual exhibitions, and formation of an art library and museum and school of art. The OSA was instrumental in the formation of what are now the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Ontario College of Art, the Canadian Society of Graphic Arts, the Ontario Association of Architects, the Sculptor's Society of Canada, the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour, and the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Membership in the OSA has included such distinguished artists as Arthur Lismer, JEH MacDonald and AJ Casson familiar to many as members of the Group of Seven.
Pastor Mills is active in the Toronto arts community as an exhibitor and juror. He recently served on the jury for the annual Canada-wide “Evidence of Things Unseen” exhibition of Judeo-Christian art at Tyndale College, Toronto.
Visitors to the parishes in which Pastor Mills has served will have delighted in his ability to take ordinary items and an ordinary space and to transform them. His use of wallpaper to create an effective reredos at St. Philip’s Lutheran Church, Kitchener, Ontario, comes to mind. The use of inexpensive votive lights to illumine the cement-block worship stations -- ambo, font and table -- at the 1997 ELCIC national convention also comes to mind.
Pastor Mills serves as a full-time parish pastor at Advent Lutheran Church, Toronto, a congregation of the Eastern Synod. His pastoral leadership there has been received with warmth and gratitude. Pastor Mills expounds a strong and loving theology of grace.
A graduate of Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, ordained in 1991, Pastor Mills has served the congregations of Advent Lutheran Church (Toronto), St. Philip Lutheran Church (Kitchener, Ont.) and First Lutheran Church (Vancouver).
Pastor Mills is married to Colleen Shantz, a Ph.D. candidate and lecturer in New Testament at the Toronto School of Theology (University of Toronto). They have two children, Chloe and Jonah.