June 2014 Volume 11

Jamaicans in Atlanta mourn Rev. E. Don Taylor

Dr. Glen Laman
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Jamaicans in Atlanta join people worldwide in mourning the passing of the Rt. Reverend E. Don Taylor who passed away in New York recently.

Rev. Dr. Barry Davies, former KC choirmaster and Atlanta resident, had this to say:

“Bishop’ Don Taylor was a 6th former at Kingston College when I went to teach there.  I had the pleasure of preparing “Bishop” (that was his nickname) for the interview and audition required for his first job - at RJR.  He passed with flying colors and he and I worked there together until he thought it was time to obey the call and study for the priesthood.  We had become good friends, and he and I continued to meet regularly and drink many a Red Stripe beer in my home. 

Don regarded me as a sort of “father confessor” (even though I was only 8 years his senior) and I followed his ups and downs until he decided to leave Jamaica and go to Buffalo, NY.  While there he wrote often to tell me about the wonderful work being done by the boys’ choir he had founded.  It was wonderful, after a few years up north to hear that he had decided to move to Atlanta and, once here, our friendship (along with the Red Stripe beers) again flourished… 

My memories of “Bishop” cover the whole of his life from the mid 1950s onward, and I know that his character and the power of his personality were used to truly minister to the people who became enabled to worship and live Christian lifestyles because of his powerful preaching and pastoral visits to them.  Even as a rookie radio announcer when he became known as “Uncle Don” and throughout his life, his work was one that greatly endeared him to those fortunate enough to have known the privilege of being either a friend, a colleague or a member of one of his congregations.  His soul WILL rest in peace.

Retired architect GC Samuels was married by Father Taylor in Atlanta, Georgia but their association went back to Jamaica when Father Taylor officiated at his father’s funeral in 1967.  He recalls that his mother was responsible for sewing the bishop’s vestments when he lived in Jamaica and she continued to do so even after he had migrated to the US.

“It’s a great loss. He will be greatly missed because he was an inspiration to so many people,” explains Samuels.

Professor, the Rev. Noel Leo Erskine of Emory’s Candler School of Theology had this to say:

For many people throughout the world the Rt. Bishop Don Taylor represented the face of Jamaica. Like his spiritual father before him, Bishop Percival Gibson, Bishop Taylor embodied the best of Jamaica – compassion for the disinherited and passion for the life of Christ. A life of passion and compassion endeared him to us, and made clear the divine signature writ large in his life.

Longtime Atlanta resident Leslyn Weekes knew Father Taylor well as he:

…was a personal mentor and friend of my family. We all walk this journey of life and bear witness to each other and when we are lucky we run into people who nurture us at our roots.  Father Taylor was such a water bearer for me.  I remember the day we met at The Episcopal church of the Holy Cross.  I was 16 and my family had just moved to Atlanta that August and it was our 2nd Sunday in Atlanta…. a beautiful friendship began that day …it was an honor to have known Bishop Taylor and to have called him a friend.  He gave me my first job babysitting his daughter Tara and his late wife, Rosalie, and my mother became great friends.

I will always remember Bishop Taylor as a graceful and humble man who made an effort to reach out to me. 

Father Taylor came to the Atlanta area in 1979. He had previously pastured a church in Buffalo, New York. He was made the Vicar of Holy Comforter but was also asked to serve at the Holy Cross church in Decatur, GA.

He became the full-time Vicar of Holy Cross in 1982. Under his inspired leadership, Holy Cross doubled its membership. This increase was due in part to the large influx of Caribbean natives who were attracted to Holy Cross because of an affinity to Father Taylor.

Father Taylor also served as Jamaica’s first honorary consul to Atlanta and played a key role in Atlanta’s Hurricane Gilbert Recovery effort. He left Holy Cross in January 1987 to become the Bishop of the Virgin Islands.

Father Taylor would later go on to become the Vicar Bishop of New York City where he served until 2009 when he retired to Jamaica.  He never forgot his parishioners in Atlanta, making regular visits for funerals, weddings and other occasions.

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