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University Relations

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March 9, 2005
Contact: Tim Miller, KU religious studies department, (785) 864-7263.

Trust in honor of memory of KU librarian provides gift to St. Luke AME

LAWRENCE -- An effort to preserve a historic African-American church in Lawrence has received a major boost with a gift from a charity that honors the memory of Shelley Miller, a former librarian at the University of Kansas.

The Shelley Miller Trust has provided a $5,000 gift to help further the effort to preserve St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church in Lawrence.

Miller, who passed away at age 40 in 1994, left much of her estate as a trust for community projects. She was a resident of East Lawrence who lived just a short distance from St. Luke Church and was an active supporter of historic preservation, East Lawrence neighborhood and minority community projects.

St. Luke Church was founded in 1862 by former slaves seeking refuge in Lawrence. It has since been a religious and social center for prominent Lawrence African-Americans. Langston Hughes was among those who once attended St. Luke.

The current St. Luke building was constructed in 1910. It is considered a fine example of the Midwestern Gothic Revival architectural style. However, age has taken its toll on the building, and the small congregation by itself cannot pay the estimated $1.5 million it will take to fully restore and modernize the building.

Several KU faculty members are involved in the preservation project, which is chaired by Bill Tuttle, KU professor of American studies. The idea for a communitywide restoration project emerged from the 2002 Langston Hughes symposium, which was at KU and several locations in the community, including St. Luke AME Church.

Miller was a KU alumna and received a master of library science degree at the University of California-Los Angeles. She had worked at the Library of Congress before returning to KU. She was a member of the Unitarian Fellowship in Lawrence. Her mother, Mary Miller, and a brother, Byron, reside in Lawrence. Her sisters are Kim Miller of Vancouver, Wash., and Dianne Miller of Nehalem, Ore.

Tim Miller, KU professor of religious studies who is no relation to Shelley Miller, serves on the board for the Shelley Miller Charitable Trust with two former KU employees: Muriel Cook, retired KU librarian; Ellen Brow of Davis, Calif.; and Barry Shalinsky, a KU law graduate practicing in Boston.

For further information about the St. Luke project, contact Bill Tuttle, (785) 864-9476 or tuttle@ku.edu, or Mark Kaplan, mkaplan@earthlink.net. For more information about the Shelley Miller Trust contact Tim Miller, (785) 864-7263 or tkansas@ku.edu.

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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