Thursday, October 3, 2013 —
This past Sunday morning, September 29th, Mike Taylor left this earth. Here are a few thoughts that have filled my head since he passed.
I met Mike Taylor when I became the senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Albemarle in May of 2003. The first relationship we had was pastor to parishioner. Mike and his wife Susan were the best kind of church members, always supportive, always encouraging, always affirming. Mike was a very astute man; he observed the world around him with great clarity. I have no doubt that he had a crystal clear perception of all my flaws and shortcomings, and yet, he always focused on my strengths. His Christ-like compassion called him to affirm me and my ministry often and for that I will forever be in his debt.
It was not long after I came to Albemarle that our relationship became more than formal. Mike and I became friends. I am not sure when it started, but Mike would call one morning about every three or four weeks and ask if I was free for lunch. We shared many noon meals together and great conversations. We talked about faith, the church, politics, movies, and a whole host of other subjects. Those who knew Mike knew of his great intellect. Whenever I was leaving the church office to walk to Mike’s law practice across North Street, I would always say to the secretary, “It is time for the Town Genius and the Village Idiot to have lunch.” She knew that Mike was for the former and I was the latter. I was often confused why someone so brilliant would want to dine with me, but for whatever reason, he did. I cherish my memories of those lunches, and more than that I cherish the thought that Mike wanted to dine with someone vastly intellectually inferior. His friendship was a precious gift.
Beyond our relationship in church and the friendship we cultivated over many years, Mike played another role in my life. During a very dark and difficult time, I sought out Mike Taylor for legal advice. When I explained my situation, his response was not to tell me he should represent me. Instead he said, “You need to hire Bill Tucker. And you need to do that now.” I did not know anything about lawyers or hiring them, so Mike called and made an appointment for later in the week and he went with me to the meeting. That day, because of Mike, I gained a lawyer and ultimately a new friend in Bill Tucker, the honorable Judge Tucker these days.
More recently since I have moved to my new position as Executive Director of Stanly Community Christian Ministry, Mike and Susan have continued to affirm me by faithfully supporting SCCM with their financial gifts and their prayers. They have been a constant presence of affirmation in my life for almost eleven years now.
Through more than a decade, I have dined with the Taylor family both in Albemarle and in their home in Chapel Hill. I have shared many conversations with all five Taylors, Mike, Susan, Will, Sam and John, and I have always felt inspired by their love for one another and their passion for knowledge and faith. Mike, the son of Baptist missionaries, was one of the greatest men of faith I have ever known. He, as all Christians should, believed that one’s faith impacts everything, one’s choices and how one treats others, one’s politics and one’s daily lifestyle, one’s very being intertwined always with the quest to be more like Jesus.
Many of those days when we shared lunch, Mike and I went first to Rock Creek Park and walked the trail before we broke bread together. Those are good memories. This past Sunday morning, when I heard that Mike had left this earth, I added one more thing to my to-do list when I get to heaven. I look forward to taking a walk with Mike again, and then dining together in the Great Banquet Hall of Eternity. Amen.
Roger Thomas is executive director of Stanly Community Christian Ministry.