When a pillar falls, the structure that it supported usually will be weakened.
Dr. L.C. McMillian was a pillar of the Pike County Christian community. Although the community is mourning his death on Friday, the legacy that he leaves will continue to uphold and strengthen those who were under his leadership, said Troy City Council Member Dejerilyn King Henderson.
“Dr. McMillian was a pillar of strength and the effects of his life will be far reaching, not just in Troy and Pike County but all across the state,” Henderson said. “Dr. McMillian was the president of the Alabama Missionary Baptist Convention for four years. He was known and respected everywhere he went.
“Dr. McMillian was a teacher and a mentor. He was one of the most intelligent men in Pike County and he shared his intellect in a way that everyone could understand. His faith was strong and his witness was powerful.”
McMillian retired as pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in April 2012 after 45 years of faithful service. He continued to pastor Antioch Baptist Church as his health allowed.
The Rev. Darrell Caldwell was one of many young ministers who were mentored by McMillian.
“Dr. McMillian taught me many things,” he said. “Dr. McMillian taught me to give. He was a giver and he was one who served at the top of his capacity. He did all that he could do for anyone. His philosophy was that giving is living. He believed that whatever you send out is coming back to you – that you reap what you sow.”
Caldwell said McMillian excelled in the work of the religious community.
“He didn’t mind rolling up his sleeves and doing the work that had to be done.” Caldwell said. “He expected all of those who called him pastor to do the same thing. He held me to a high level of accountability.”
Caldwell said that so much could be said about McMillian because he meant so much to so many.
“I’m at a loss of words when it’s time to adequately describe what Dr. McMillian meant to the community,” he said. “He was a rare individual. Truly, when God made Rev. McMillian the mold was broken. There was only one of him.”
Mickey Deveridge, chairman of the deacons of Bethel, characterized McMillian as a great man of vision and valor.
“Dr. McMillian loved the church and he loved the people,” Deveridge said. “Love was the one thing that he pounded on. He taught us to always love one another and to keep our eyes on Christ and make Him the center of our lives. If we did that, Dr. McMillian said everything would work out.”
Deveridge said McMillian loved the children of the church and was an outstanding role model for them.
“The children looked up to him,” he said. “They respected and admired him as we all did. Dr. McMillian will be greatly missed. His influence was far reaching and he will continue to influence lives even now and for many years to come.”
As Bethel’s youth director, Sarah Baker worked closely with McMillian for 33 years.
“I considered Rev. McMillian my big brother,” Baker said. “He was such a kind man and so easy to talk to. He was well respected throughout the community but, what stands out most in my mind, is that he was such a good preacher. He was always preaching revivals all over the state. He was the kind of pastor that visited the sick at home and in the hospitals. And, he didn’t just go to one room at the hospital. He went from room to room whether he knew the patients or not. The young people loved Rev. McMillian. The older people love him. Everybody loved Rev. McMillian.”
Shelia Deverage said that McMillian’s presence was felt throughout the community.
“He instilled values and morals in our children and inspired us as adults,” she said. “Dr. McMillian will be greatly missed but we should not mourn his loss. He continually told us that we should live our lives in such a way that if we were evicted, we would have somewhere to go. He taught us that if we keep our business straight, we will have some place to go. Dr. McMillian lived in a way that he had a place to go – a place to be with the Lord. We should rejoice that he is with his Lord.”