LORD Bishop of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands Howard Gregory and Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States Stephen Vasciannie yesterday paid tribute to Bishop Don Taylor, describing him as a man who instilled in youngsters the virtue of integrity and the importance of serving their country.
Taylor, a former Kingston College (KC) principal and old boy, died in New York last Saturday after a long battle with heart disease. He was 77.
Yesterday, Bishop Gregory said that even as the Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands mourned Bishop Taylor’s passing, it was thankful for his life of outstanding service to the diocese, the nation and the wider Anglican Communion.
“As a young priest in this diocese, he was noted for his creativity and pastoral leadership while serving as priest-in-charge and subsequently as rector of the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Molynes Road,” Bishop Gregory said.
“His rapport and mentoring of the young people of the congregation was a major force in helping to shape the lives of those who have gone on to serve the church, the nation, and in various spheres in the international community,” Gregory added.
He said that Taylor’s ministry in the Episcopal Church in the United States was no less noteworthy, as through his pastoral leadership in Buffalo and Atlanta he was able to lead the congregations in a process of growth, even while maintaining multi-racial membership in a racially divided society.
Gregory noted that Taylor, during his time in the USA, also affirmed his Jamaican identity as honorary consul in Atlanta for several years.
“Elected as bishop of the United States Virgin Islands and subsequently as assistant bishop and vicar bishop of New York, he faced many challenging situations, having responsibility for some of the poorest congregations of mixed racial composition in his jurisdiction. Here, he sharpened his skills in ministering to the poor and marginalised in an affluent society,” Gregory said.
He noted that when Taylor returned to Jamaica in his retirement, “he brought to bear on his ministry his vast experience and pastoral skills in ministry in downtown Kingston, while serving as rector of Kingston Parish Church”.
“The Diocese of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands and the people of Jamaica owe him a debt of gratitude for his contribution in both spheres of our life,” Gregory said. “We offer our sincere condolence to his daughter, Tara, and to his wider family, colleagues and former parishioners.”
Ambassador Vasciannie, in his tribute, recalled Taylor’s tenure as headmaster of KC, describing the late bishop as a source of inspiration and a first-class leader.
“Rev Taylor, as a young, dynamic priest of the Anglican Church who had come under the direct influence of KC’s founding fathers, Bishop Gibson and Douglas Forrest, was a brilliant link between the school’s past and its future,” added Vasciannie, himself a KC old boy.
“Known affectionately as ‘Don T’, Rev Taylor was an outstanding orator and intellectual, who was always willing to engage even the most neophyte ‘College’ youth on the niceties of the Fortis spirit and the Anglican contribution to our beloved school.”
Vascianne said that in subsequent years, as Taylor rose “most deservedly through the ranks of the Anglican hierarchy in the United States” all the way up to the bishopric of New York, “he brought pride and joy to many Jamaicans”. And, upon his return to Jamaica, without inclination to retirement, continued to serve with distinction at Kingston Parish Church.
Vasciannie, who is also Jamaica’s permanent representative to the Organisation of American States, said that his last recollection of Bishop Taylor is from his Bishop Gibson Lecture in which he reminded his audience of the role of his alma mater in bringing him up from poverty — through a class-based and colourconscious wider Jamaican environment — to success and fulfilment.
“Speaking without notes, the bishop was at his mesmerising best. He emphasised then that if Kingston College fails, Jamaica will fail, and although some may not regard this as a universally acceptable proposition, it was received with enthusiastic acclaim by the bishop’s audience at KC’s St Augustine Chapel, North Street.”
Vasciannie recalled that during the lecture, staged by the KC Old Boys’ Association, Taylor was vibrant, full of life and cosmopolitan in style and substance.
“Various points in his presentation were reminiscent of Don T’s deliveries to KC boys in the 1970s on the virtues of integrity, commitment, and dedication to Jamaican development.
“As principal, he would occasionally walk with us through the streets in the immediate environs of Melbourne Park, publicly discussing Kingston College’s history, motivating us to develop into public-spirited Jamaican citizens, whether we ended up living at home or abroad,” Vascianne said.
He added that while Taylor was at home in the St Augustine Chapel, he made an indelible mark on the lives of many persons in many other venues.
“Bishop Taylor lived his life in tribute to God by serving humanity,” Vascianne said. “May his soul rest in peace.”