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Bishop E. Don Taylor
"I used to believe that I was just there for show... but people got to know me as a person, came to relate to me and were drawn to me, there's no end to that influence," - The Rt. Rev. E. Don Taylor
Bishop Taylor will retire on Sept. 1, 2009, as required by Canon Law that sets the retirement age for bishops at 72.
What is your legacy?
Bishop Taylor: My greatest accomplishment is pastoral care. I have spent a lot of time with people, clergy and lay, during times of joy and difficulty. This has been an intentional ministry and what I am most happy about. People have opened up to and have been drawn very close to me.
Another is the education of laity for ministry. I have been training lay ministers-wardens, vestry members, catechists, Sunday school teachers-there's hardly a Saturday when I am not teaching.
I have been Vicar Bishop for New York City for 15 years and have had a very strong ministry of presence: I have been present at almost everything I have been invited to, all people rich and poor have grown accustomed to me, which has helped me in my evangelism.
Bishop Taylor's story
The Right Reverend E. Don Taylor was born in Kingston, Jamaica, on September 2, 1937 where he grew up and received his early education. As a child he was greatly influenced by two persons: his paternal grandmother, Adina Taylor, and his headmaster, the Right Reverend Percival William Gibson, who later became Lord Bishop of Jamaica and ordained him to the Diaconate and to the Priesthood.
Bishop Taylor first sensed his call to the Priesthood when he was a small boy and under his grandmother's influence, but that call was clarified for him by his headmaster and mentor at Kingston College. After leaving school, young Don Taylor went to work as a Radio Announcer at Radio Jamaica and Rediffusion (RJR). Here he developed his natural flair for Radio Broadcasting which has remained an important part of his life and ministry ever since. He later studied Radio Broadcasting and Communication in Canada and he is an accomplished Radio and T.V. broadcaster.
At 19 years, Don Taylor left the field of Radio Broadcasting to begin his preparation for the Priesthood. He entered St. Peter's Theological College in Jamaica in September 1957 and for the next three years excelled in his academic and spiritual development. He was made Deacon in St. Matthew's Church, Kingston, on St. Matthew's Day, Wednesday, September 21, 1960, and immediately started his ministry at St. Mary's Church, Kingston. On Sunday, October 29, 1961, he was ordained to the Sacred Priesthood in St. Mary's Church where he had served as a Deacon, by his former Headmaster and mentor, the Right Reverend Percival William Gibson, D.D., who had also ordained him to the Diaconate.
Don Taylor served the first 14 years of his ministry in Jamaica during which time he applied himself diligently to the building of the congregation at St. Mary's Church, while at the same time teaching part time at Kingston College, his alma mater. Deeply committed to Evangelism, the young priest studied the New Testament approach to Evangelism and applied it to the new and rapidly growing Parish which Bishop Gibson had assigned to him and which he embraced as a challenge. Over the eleven years that he served at St. Mary the Virgin, the Parish grew from a tiny mission of about 50 souls to a large and flourishing Parish of over 2,000.
After completing his bachelor's degree in History at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies in Jamaica, Fr. Taylor moved on to a master's degree in History and the Diploma in Education. He then turned his thoughts to pursuing further studies in Theology, and was in the midst of plans to study in England when he met Professor Charles Feilding of Trinity College, Toronto, who was on a visit to Jamaica in 1968.
Through Dr. Feilding's encouragement, Fr. Taylor changed his plan to study in England and was accepted by Trinity College, Toronto, for the academic year 1969/1970. He was among the first class of students to participate in the newly established Toronto School of Theology, graduating in 1970 with the S.T.M. Degree.
During his year at Trinity College, Fr. Taylor also served as a part-time assistant Priest at All Souls' Church, Willowdale, and at the invitation of the Right Revered George Snell, Bishop of Toronto, became his adviser on the integration of the growing West Indian population into the Anglican Churches in the Diocese of Toronto. Fr. Taylor traveled extensively, especially in the metropolitan area where West Indians were concentrated, and he was able in a short time to direct West Indians into the life of the Church in Toronto. He also established many lasting friendships through these visits and because of his lively preaching. Later, on his return to Jamaica, he then organized a program whereby clergy in Toronto with West Indian members could visit and be exposed to life in Parishes in the West Indies. On his return to Jamaica in 1970, Fr. Taylor was appointed Headmaster of his alma mater, Kingston College, the first alumnus to receive such a distinction.
In 1973 Fr. Taylor was invited by the Right Reverend Harold B. Robinson, Bishop of Western New York, to become the Rector of St. Philip's Church, Buffalo. He served the Parish for five years and during that time he started and developed the St. Philip's School of Music and Boys' Choir. In 1978 he moved to Atlanta as Vicar of Holy Comforter Church. Within a year he was invited to become Rector of Holy Cross Church in Decatur, where he served as Rector until he was elected Bishop of the Virgin Islands in October 1986. He served the Diocese of the Virgin Islands from February 1987 to April 1994 when he was invited to become the Assistant Bishop of New York by the Right Reverend Richard F. Grein, Bishop of New York.
During his episcopate in the Virgin Islands, Bishop Taylor implemented a number of efforts to unify the Diocese and to make the Anglican Church an effective instrument in witness and service to the people of the Virgin Islands. Congregations grew significantly and an ever increasing number of them embarked on social outreach programs to help youth, the aged, and the poor. To facilitate the expansion of the church's witness among the unchurched, Bishop Taylor established "Episcopal Charities, Inc." as the social outreach arm of the Diocese and as an instrument for assisting Parishes to undertake more work in the community.
Bishop Taylor's emphasis on Evangelism was also a priority in his episcopate. In order to unify his Diocese of many islands, many of them isolated, and also to incorporate the many families which came to the Diocese for short periods of time, Bishop Taylor established a Diocesan Radio Studio in the See City of Charlotte Amalia in St. Thomas. Through this medium the Bishop was able to hit the airwaves each week, reaching every corner and community of his Diocese as well as touching those who lived on boats and other sailing vessels in and around the waters of these islands. His name and his message quickly became a household word in every home.
The Bishop's Pastoral Ministry and his love for people also contributed significantly to the growth and popularity of his Church in the Virgin Islands. He was often seen walking the streets, meeting the ordinary people where they lived and worked. He attended functions at every level of community life, he visited the sick in hospital, advised civic and political leaders and gave generously of his time to foster the work of ecumenism. His outstanding leadership in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo which devastated these islands in the summer of 1990 placed the Anglican Church in the forefront of religious communities and earned him a place of honor and endearment in the hearts of all Virgin Islanders. It was no surprise, therefore, that when Mrs. Rosalie Taylor, the Bishop's wife, died in April 1992, the entire Virgin Islands stopped to pay respect to her and to offer support to the Bishop and his daughter.
Bishop Taylor has one daughter, Tara-Elizabeth Angela.
Bishop Taylor has been honored by several groups and organizations in recognition of his untiring service to the community.