Elected at the First Church in Jaffrey Annual Meeting in its 243rd year on Sunday Jan.30) were (L-R, front row) Trustees Roy Lake, Pam Hill , David Bliss and Janet Grant; in the middle, Clerk Nancy Elder-Wilfrid; in back row, Treasurer Annie Gordon and Moderator Sam Greene, a descendant of the church’s first minister, Rev.Laban Ainsworth. Photo by Carol Hess.

First Church in Jaffrey, organized in 1780, is starting its 243rd year with a new settled minister in the parsonage and an entirely new slate of officers, including a moderator who is a descendant of the church’s first minister – Rev. Laban Ainsworth. Ainsworth served from 1782 until his death in 1858 at age 100; his 76-year ministry holds the record for an American minister.

The congregation held elections at its annual meeting on Sunday (Jan. 30) at its red brick church on the Jaffrey Center Common on Laban Ainsworth Way, adjacent to the 1775 Jaffrey Center Meetinghouse.

The new moderator is Sam Greene, a descendant of Rev. Ainsworth; Greene succeeds Carol Hess. The new Treasurer is Annie Gordon, succeeding Janet Grant. Rounding out the new slate of officers is the new clerk, Nancy Elder-Wilfrid, who succeeds Sylvia Hamilton. Each will serve a two-year term. All are from Jaffrey.

In other elections, to the six-member Trustees, Janet Grant was elected to a three-year term, Pamela Hill to a two-year term and Roy Lake and David Bliss to one-year terms. Continuing to serve as Trustees are Thomas Warren and Daniel Wilfrid. Lake is from Rindge, Warren is from Dublin and all others are from Jaffrey.

The new minister, Rev. Steve Miller, in his second sermon, encouraged the congregation to imagine – like a prophet – what the future holds for the church.

Rev. Steve Miller
And Wife Dr. Jill Tyler

The Rev. Steve G. Miller started his ministry at The First Church in Jaffrey in January 2022, after a unanimous vote of approval by the congregation in October of 2021 when he visited and conducted worship. His wife, Dr. Jill Tyler, will join him in the First Church parsonage after she retires in May as professor and chair of the University of South Dakota (USD) Communications Department. Currently Leah and Luke Summit (Steve and Jill’s daughter and son-in-law) and the Summit’s two boys are staying with Miller while the young family looks for a house in the greater Boston area.

“I am very excited about getting to know all the people in Jaffrey, the church and the wider Jaffrey community!  I’ve met neighbors walking my dog and playing in front of the parsonage with my two grandsons, who are ages 2-1/2 and nine months.”  Miller confessed: “I’m a bit of a schmoozer.”

For the past 26 years Miller was the senior pastor at the United Church of Christ-Congregational in Vermillion SD.  Originally a New Englander, Miller grew up in  Worcester, MA, in what is now the United Congregational Church.  Miller shared, in his first Sunday leading worship at First Church: “I used to come up here to climb Monadnock as a kid.  It’s like returning home.  I love the mountains, the trees, the ponds and rivers – it’s beautiful here.”

A man of many interests, Miller spent five years studying Lakota spirit, language and music. He invited the Lakota community to hold sacred ceremonies at the UCC church. Speaking for the Lakota community during a farewell gathering honoring Miller, one participant observed that he and Steve have been friends for years and call each other “Kola,” the Lakota term for brother.

At this same event Miller was honored by the Vermillion Community Theatre with a poster of six photos of him in community theater productions that was headlined “Actor, Playwright, Songwriter, Musician, Director of Spirit” in appreciation of his and the church’s support in helping the theater build a center for performing arts at the Vermillion high school.  A devoted baseball fan, Miller was a leader of the Vermillion Youth Baseball Association for players 5 to 12 for many years.

The title of teacher also belongs in Miller’s repertoire, as demonstrated by his popular “World Religions” course at the University of SD.   The University’s provost Kurt Hackemer observed that an important Miller offering was titled “The Pipe and the Cross,” about the intersection of Christianity and native spirituality. “So many students considered this THE great class, the best class that they ever had at USD,” the provost added.

Steve Miller graduated from Springfield College in 1981. He began studying at Yale Divinity School and transferred to the Pacific School of Religion, where he received his Master of Divinity degree in 1987.  He served churches in Bethlehem, CT and Gilman, IA before going to Vermillion in 1995. Rev. Miller has also been involved with Shem Center for Interfaith Spirituality in Oak Park, IL for more 30 years through retreats, conferences, and classes.

Please come to First Church in Jaffrey at 10:30 on Sundays and meet Steve Miller!

Gene Faxon
Minster of Music

Gene brings his experience with teaching music and his expertise on the organ, piano, and harpsichord. He leads the choir as well as organizes special musical worship and other church events. Gene is also an accomplished recorder player.  During the pandemic Gene and three ladies have become a harmonious quartet.  We enjoy their offerings on multiple occasions during our services.  The congregation joins this group in singing Taize chants and hymns selected from the Pilgrim Hymnal and the New Century Hymnal.

Judy Lessard
Administrative Assistant

Judy brings her corporate experience. Working with our pastor and music minister, she creates the worship bulletins, sends out e-blasts, and monitors phone calls and church email. Working with our treasurer, she maintains the QuickBooks database and generates financial reports. Working with the communications team, she creates, prints, and distributes the church newsletter.


In late January 2022, First Church heartily welcomed (bottom row)  Roy Lake, Pam Hill,  David Bliss and Janet Grant as new Trustees.  Nancy Elder-Wilfrid is the new Clerk and in the top row is Ann St. Cyr Gordon (Treasurer) and Sam Greene Moderator.


Sam Greene, Moderator
Ann Gordon, Treasurer
Nancy Elder-Wilfrid, Clerk


David Bliss
Janet Grant
Pam Hill
Roy Lake
Tom Warren
Dan Wilfrid