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Aiming at first to be a lawyer—though no African American had ever been admitted to the Louisiana State Bar at that time—Taylor instead turned to the ministry in the wake of an automobile accident in which he was the driver and a white man was killed.
There are words that caress, words that lash and cut, words that lift, and words that have a glow in them.”Taylor once described preaching as “the sweet torture of Sunday morning.” What was it like to hear a Gardner Taylor sermon in person?
Richard John Neuhaus, who served for many years as his pastoral colleague in Brooklyn, would sometimes visit Concord to hear the great proclaimer.
“Prophetic preaching arises out of the Scriptures,” he said.
“Moralizing is self-generated and arises from social mores or personal predilections.” Taylor preached not only the Bible.
It could not have happened on a more appropriate day. Taylor, a giant of the American pulpit who had spent most of his life proclaiming Christ, passed away on Easter Sunday at the age of 89.
Essay Gardner Gardner Lecture Taylor Taylor Words Words
Taylor prays during his sermon at a historic meeting of four black Baptist denominations at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., in 2005.
Even then, with his health on the decline, he was gracious, engaging, and exuberant in his love for preachers and preaching. In that 2010 article, I wrote: “A profound influence on the African-American pulpit, Gardner Taylor is a model of eloquence and passion in preaching.” He was the final pulpiteer of his generation; we called him “the last pulpit prince” in a 2014 profile in .
He not only faithfully preached the Word to his own congregation for many years, but he profoundly influenced more than one generation of preachers who stand on his broad shoulders. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching.
Taylor served from 1948 to 1990 as Senior Pastor of Brooklyn’s Concord Baptist Church of Christ.
He was influential in the establishment of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, and served as President of that important body.