Anastasia Cunningham, Gleaner Writer
BISHOP E. Don Taylor knew there was a special calling on his life to join the priesthood from he was just a boy.
"It was in drama (class) at 11 years old, acting in a play as a bishop, that I knew. I was so serious acting the part that my Sunday School superintendent, Mr L.B. Myrie, told me he was going to start calling me 'Bishop', because I behaved just like one," said Bishop Taylor, with a smile.
"I did not think it was funny at the time, but everybody latched on to it. And it followed me right through my years at Kingston College. At that time no one realised that I would really become a bishop. It is just wonderful the way God works."
Today, Taylor celebrates 50 years in the priesthood and credits Mico Practising Primary School and Kingston College as the two premier educational powerhouses that really shaped his life. Born on Greenwich Road in Kingston 5, he later furthered his education at the University of the West Indies, followed by Trinity College in Toronto, Canada.
After earning his undergraduate and graduate degrees in history and political science, theology, religious communication and Christian education, Taylor went international, working in various black communities across the world, educating and ministering to their spiritual and physical needs. He spent his life in absolute service to God and the people in the many communities he served.
Destiny was made clear
"From the age of 12 until I was about 20, I became deeply aware of the presence of God in my life and of being guided towards a particular destiny. The destiny was made clear for me by what I saw around me. The need of people, not just for food and shelter, but for a strong purpose for which to live," he stated.
"And having gained that from my background in school and particularly at Kingston College under Bishop (Percival) Gibson, it seemed to me at the time that I needed somewhere to be able to accommodate the young people in my life and to help them see the future in the way I saw it. A future guided and directed by Jesus Christ."
He spent 12 - somewhat controversial yet very successful - years changing the lives of many as rector of the Church of St Mary The Virgin in St Andrew, where he introduced the Harvest Festival.
"It was a joy to see how the Harvest Festival grew and expanded and to see how the people of this community responded to the gospel. There was a time when our Sunday School had 1,000 children and lots of those young people are still calling me to baptise their young children. It makes you full of joy and thanksgiving," he beamed.
After spending 15 years as the vicar bishop for New York, United States, with oversight for 81 churches across the city, he returned home in June 2009 to take charge as rector for the Kingston Parish Church.
"Much of what I am doing at the Kingston Parish Church now, and much of the vision that I see for downtown Kingston, came out of being involved in the work in Harlem (New York) and seeing Harlem transformed into a thing of beauty once again. All of that really gave me a wonderful experience and has motivated me to come back to Kingston where I was born, and to offer what little I have left to the rebuilding of our beautiful, great city of Kingston," said bishop Taylor.
He said there was never a time in his life that he drifted from the church. He was always involved in something that kept him bound to the life of the church, and he credits that mainly to the faith of his Christian grandmother and his mentor, Bishop Gibson.
Tomorrow at 6:30 p.m. at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston, Bishop Taylor along with Bishop Alfred Reid will be honoured in a celebratory banquet on their 50th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.
The banquet is part of a $40-million fund-raising drive to rebuild the St Peter's Training College, located adjacent to the Nuttall Hospital in Cross Roads, St Andrew, which was destroyed by fire last year. Both bishops are graduates of the college.
"I will be working till the day I cannot move. I don't have to be in a big church like Kingston Parish Church, I will go to a small country church with 12 people and be very happy building that up. But anytime I stop preaching the gospel, stop serving people, stop guiding youth towards the Kingdom of God, anytime I stop doing any of these things, it is simply because I am no longer physically or mentally capable of doing that," Bishop Taylor stated with passion.
"And if that time comes and I can write, I will write so generations to come can read. If I can't write I will pray for those who are out in the boon docks working, because a lot of my strength as a priest has come from the fact that men and women, boys and girls have loved me to the point where they have prayed for me. And it is that prayer that has sustained me to this day. I am happy, I couldn't be happier and I am jealous of that happiness, so I don't want to retire, I just want to keep on going for the Kingdom of God."