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Pastor will keep the church in his heart
by Bill Clough
Sep 10, 2011 | 2032 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Rev. Don Taylor stands before the cross wall at his office at Faith Lutheran Church where he is retiring after more than 40 years in the ministry.
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The Rev. Don Taylor, pastor of Faith Lutheran Church, can thank his mother for his being in South Texas and can thank a junior high vocational workshop for his being a minister.

Taylor, who is 66, retires later this month after serving as pastor at the church since 2001, and capping off a ministerial career of more than 40 years.

He decided to enter the ministry after attending a junior high school vocational workshop. “I felt I was called,” he says.

When he was 12, doctors advised his mother, who was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, to move to a drier climate.

First choice: San Antonio.

While Taylor was a student at Texas Lutheran in Seguin, he got a job at a steel factory that produced rebar.

“The foreman said, ‘Well, if you want to be a preacher, I’ll give you two weeks. After that, you’ll change your mind.’”

Instead, Taylor was given a promotion in the blueprinting department – and stayed in theology classes.

He married his wife, Marilyn, between his junior and senior year. “It wasn’t the usual thing to do then,” Taylor recalls, “marrying while you were still in school. The convention was you were graduated single, found a wife and then found your first church.”

Marilyn supported Taylor while he was finishing his theological education at Ohio’s Hamma Seminary. “She got her honorary degree: ‘PhT — Putting Hubby Through.’”

Taylor was ordained in late August 1970, at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in San Antonio.

The church no longer exists, but Taylor has utilized some of its liturgical furniture and artifacts at Faith Lutheran.

He has served four parishes in Texas, one in Washington and spent nine years on active duty as an Army chaplain in Germany.

The bearing and directness of military command still show.

On his office wall is a romantic, mail-order print of a painting of a church by Texas artist Randy Souders, entitled “Rock of Ages.”

“When Marilyn and I were heading for Germany,” he says, “I bought that painting, because we both felt we needed a church to take with us.”

He decorated his new office at Faith Lutheran when he arrived in April 2001.

“When I was called to serve at Faith Lutheran,” he remembers, “things were a little easier, because my son and his wife already were attending here. It’s peculiar to come to a church as the pastor when part of your family has preceded you.”

Community involvement is a mainstay for his time in Beeville. For instance, Taylor originated the Habitat for Humanity program in Beeville and later served as board president.

Caring for the community, he says, is paramount for being a successful pastor.

“You need to be a caring person, who doesn’t create confusion but who is willing to work to reduce it,” he says.

Scanning his desk cluttered with so much memorabilia that it has migrated to the floors, he observes that, on his last day in office, he will retire with “a lot less than what I brought.”

On a table in the hall is a stack of books from Taylor’s library: Bibles, children’s books and old hymnals.

“I’ve given away about half,” he says.

But the memories of the last decade he takes with him — baptisms, confirmations, weddings, funerals — the four milestones of pastoral life.

Appropriately, the theme of his final sermon, Sept. 11, is “Changing our Perspective.”

The E.L.C.A. congregation of 150 will celebrate his retirement Sept. 18, at the church with a dinner, a musical concert and community reception.

By church law, when a minister retires, he is not allowed to attend the same church.

“We pastors have a notorious habit of being available for members of the congregation you have just left. But that interferes with your replacement. Many of them are threatened by this,” he explains. “So you have to break that pastoral connection. You have to stay away, oh, anywhere from six months to eternity.”

Whoever replaces Taylor will not be hampered by that problem. Taylor and his wife own a motor home — “a small one” — which they plan to put to good use.

“I want to spend at least four months traveling around the United States,” he says, “including following the path of Hurricane Irene.”

He plans to take that Souders print along. “It’s good to know you always have a church with you.”

Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.
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