(Courtesy photo)

By Rev. Dorothy S. Boulware
AFRO Managing Editor

So here’s another of these articles they say I write so well; but I hate them so much. This one tells a story of a friend I’ve known since junior high school who, today, has preceded me in eternal life. I called him last week to host an event and received no response. Not his usual behavior. I found out later the same day that he was scheduled for heart surgery the next day.

This was one of the numerous medical interventions employed to sustain the heart of Bishop Douglas I. Miles, 72, a heart that worked so hard to sustain the faith and life of many others. A brilliant mind in the sciences and history, a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, even he found it strange he couldn’t resist the call of heaven to become a minister of the gospel. He could have pursued many avenues of study and discovery, but the greatest draw for him was to see the lives of those he served become enriched and sustained by the grace of the God who’d drawn him to his life’s work.

We met in 1961 at Booker T. Washington Jr. High School in West Baltimore. We were in the accelerated program, which meant we’d finish three years of study in two years and then on to high school. When I listened to the future Bishop, his friend Jerome Pittman and my friend Toni Brown, I wondered how on earth I’d ended up in the same class with them. They were articulate and knowledgeable about many things. And they all wore glasses, which for me was the supreme mark of intelligence. Well, I was only 11. Anyway, we knew then that the good Bishop would go on from there to do great things. And we weren’t wrong.

Throughout the years, his voice has been prominent in the fight for justice on all fronts. His voice has sounded loudly as an alarm that signals a crossed boundary or a golden rule.

Throughout the years he’s taken pen to paper to record the injustices he’s witnessed to African Americans, to women, to children. And that work has overflowed beyond the church walls to the halls of justice, to the schools’ halls and the neighborhood gatherings.

When people complained about children being on the summer streets late at night, he opened the doors of Koinonia Church for midnight basketball, which gave the idle hands something to hold their attention and keep them out of trouble.

Working people needed a safe place for their children and Koinonia began a daycare program that has existed for many years.

He’s mentored teachers and preachers. He’s offered safe, acceptable places for people who were shunned every other place in their lives.

The sound of BUILD (Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development) reverberates with his name, because he helped establish it and nurtured it for many years. The work it has done has been phenomenal, including training for voter registration, teaching the operation of local governments and running Election Day dashboards and providing transportation so everyone could vote.

It’s a sad day in Baltimore. It’s a sad day for his wife, his sons, his grandchildren, nieces, nephews and all the saints of Koinonia. It’s a great day in Baltimore, a city that wouldn’t have been as great without his investment and that of his family and church members. It’s a sad day for those who’ve grown in relationship with him, who’ve labored alongside him and watched him minister with a heart to serve. It’s a great day in Baltimore to know that another ancestor has been elevated to that great cloud of witnesses in glory and cheers us on to the same reward.

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