From the Worldwide Faith News archives

United Methodist Bishop Prince Taylor dead at 94

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Sat, 18 Aug 2001 17:24:57 -0700

Aug. 16, 2001 Contact: Thomas S. McAnally7(615)742-54707Nashville, Tenn.

NOTE:  Photo available on the UMNS Web site:

By United Methodist News Service

United Methodist Bishop Prince Albert Taylor Jr., 94, one of  two leaders
with the longest tenures as bishops in the denomination, died of  cancer
Aug. 15 at  Shore  Memorial Hospital in Somers Point, N.J.

Taylor also had the distinction of having the longest tenure of three
remaining African American bishops elected by the church's Central
Jurisdiction, a racially segregated unit which existed in the predominantly
white denomination from 1940 to 1968.

Born in Oklahoma the year it became a state, Taylor was one of 14 children
of a clergyman father. Ordained an elder in 1931, he served as a pastor in
North Carolina and New York and was a college and seminary professor and
denominational magazine editor before becoming a bishop in 1956.  As bishop,
he served the Monrovia, Liberia Area for eight years before being assigned
to the New Jersey Area in 1964.  He served there until his retirement in

Taylor's death leaves Bishop Ralph E. Dodge, Inverness, Fla., as the only
remaining member of the class of bishops elected in 1956.  None elected
before that time remain.  The two bishops remaining who were elected in the
Central Jurisdiction are James S. Thomas and L. Scott Allen, both of

One of the Taylor's last actions was to prepare a historical document which
was read at the opening session of the World Methodist Council in Brighton,
England, Aug. 23. Taylor had been a leading force in the international
organization and served as president of its executive committee.

As an African American, Taylor provided many "firsts" for the denomination.
He served a one-year term as president of the church's Council of Bishops
1965-66, the first African American to head the body.  He was also the first
African American to administer an episcopal area made up predominantly of
white members. He was assigned to the church's New Jersey area in June of

Taylor served on the faculty of Bennett College, Greensboro, N.C., and
Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta.  From 1948 to 1956 he was editor of
the Central Christian Advocate, news magazine of the Central Jurisdiction.
Taylor served as president of the Methodist Press Association, predecessor
organization to the United Methodist Association of Communicators.  He was
inducted into the association's Communicators Hall of Fame in 1983.

Under Taylor's leadership, the church's Liberia Conference was able to
become an autonomous Methodist denomination, a status it was granted in
1964.  In recognition of Taylor's service, the Government of Liberia twice
decorated him.  At the time he was given "The Venerable Knighthood of the
Pioneers," he was one of two private citizens ever to receive the highest
decoration of the government.

He earned his BA Degree from Huston-Tillotson College, Austin, Texas; his
B.D. Degree from Gammon; his MA. From Union Theological Seminary and
Columbia University in New York, and his E.D. from New York University.  He
had honorary degrees from several universities.

Taylor served on numerous Methodist, United Methodist, ecumenical and
interfaith boards and agencies.  He had served as chairman of the board of
directors for Religion In American Life and  was a member of the general
board of the National Council of Churches.   At the time of riots in Newark,
N.J., in 1967, Taylor was appointed by Governor Richard J. Hughes as a
member of  the Commission on Civil Disorders.

At the urging of the late Methodist theologian Albert Outler, Taylor wrote
The Life of My Years, an autobiographical account of three quarters of a
century of Methodist history published by Abingdon.  Interviewed in 1997 at
the age of 90, Taylor revealed he had on his calendar commitments through
the year 2001.  "I try to exercise each day and do those things which
contribute to longevity" he said.  "Death will not catch me sitting in a
corner waiting for it."

He read each evening before retiring and tried never to go to sleep "without
knowing a little more than I knew the night before."  When he moved to Ocean
City, N.J., in 1996 he bought a new computer in order to "not allow the 21st
century to move off ahead of me."

Preceding him in death was his wife of 66 years, the former Annie Belle
Thaxton .  They had one daughter, Isabella Taylor Jenkins of Atlanta.

Shortly before his retirement in 1976, Taylor was asked what guiding
principles had sustained him throughout his life.  He listed eight:
*  "God has not given up his dominion over the world.
*  Life without intrinsic values is built on a shaky foundation.
*  Positions and possessions are of relative value only.
*  What happens in you is far more important than what happens to you.
*  Life that is not nurtured by faith withers.
*  Mere adjustment to conditions and circumstances is a dangerous venture.
*  There are no simple problems nor simple solutions.  In every problem
there is a web of relationships which  must be taken into consideration.
*  By the grace of God we are saved.  None is so good as to earn it, none so
bad as to be denied it."

Services are scheduled for 2 p.m., Monday, Aug. 20, at the Princeton (N.J.)
United Methodist Church.  In lieu of flowers, gifts may be given to the
Office of Loans and Scholarships at the United Methodist Board of Higher
Education and Ministry, P.O. 340007, Nashville, TN 37203-0007.
#  #  #

United Methodist News Service
Photos and stories also available at:

Browse month . . . Browse month (sort by Source) . . . Advanced Search & Browse . . . WFN Home