In Memoriam
Rev. Dr. Luther P. Durgin
August 28, 1932 – December 16, 2020

Luther and Diane Durgin came to First Church in 2000 after a long career of settled
ministry and interim ministry, occasionally as co-pastors. Together they mentored our
intended minister Debbie Hill while she finished her studies at Andover-Newton
Seminary. In addition to providing guidance to the minister-in-training, our
congregation thoroughly enjoyed Luther’s leading worship one Sunday a month, with
Diane doing so another Sunday, and Debbie contributing her developing skills on the
other weekends. After a judicious 6 months following Debby Hill’s ordination and
formal call to be the settled pastor, the Durgins asked to join First Church. They became
active members, serving on committees, working on the annual Fair and occasionally
serving as pulpit supply. Luther was a Trustee and valued member of the Investment
Advisory group for many years.
We were privileged to hear first-hand about Luther and Diane’s experiences
volunteering with the Red Cross in disaster relief. They went to Mississippi aiding
victims of Hurricane Katrina and then returned to the Back Bay Mission in Biloxi, as
well as Punta Gorda, Florida with NH Conference volunteers helping rebuild houses
damaged in storms. With the Red Cross they went to San Antonio, Texas during
Hurricane Ike. For three weeks they helped feed and shelter up to 8,000 refugees who
had fled the storm.
Travel was a retirement priority for this couple. Always inquisitive, Luther and Diane
enjoyed visiting historic sites in the United States; exploring the British Isles and
European countries; cruising the rivers of the Continent; sailing the ocean and later
sailing through the Panama Canal on the QE2.
Even in his early 80s, Luther served as a guest worship leader at First Church, joined in
all discussions about structural change and conflict, and represented the church at UCC
regional associations and conferences. One of my last memories of a conversation with
him was about the difficulties he anticipated in marrying a grandchild outdoors in a
field rather than a church. But he did it!

The Rev. Dr. Luther P. Durgin died at Albany Medical Center on December 16,
2020 from complications following a stroke. The son of the late W. Ernest and
Louise Travis Durgin, he was born in Boston on August 28, 1932. Mr. Durgin
graduated from Roslindale High School, and from Bates College. He received his
Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School. At Andover Newton
Theological School, he earned his Doctor of Ministry degree. The Rev. Durgin was
ordained into Christian Ministry May 31, 1958. He is survived by his wife, the Rev.
Dr. Diane. E. Durgin, whom he married February 7, 1987. When they semi-retired,
the Durgins moved to the Keene area. Just a few years ago they settled in a
retirement community in the Berkshires. A complete obituary and a video of
Luther’s service are available at

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