A special farewell
Yorkshire Baptist Association held an event to mark the retirement of regional minister Mary Taylor
Regional Minister Mary Taylor will be remembered by the YBA for her wisdom, grace, calmness, stability, great humility - and for being the first retiring Regional Minister to have her farewell celebration on Zoom!
It had been due to take place at Wakefield Baptist Church but three days before, several key people involved - including Mary and her husband David - tested positive for Covid-19. Plans were hurriedly rearranged and on Sunday afternoon we were able to share online our thanks and tributes.
Team Leader Graham Ensor welcomed everyone and Regional Minister Kez Robinson prayed and gave thanks for Mary's ministry and for the next season of widening horizons. She was our friend, minister, teacher and colleague.
Graham hosted a light-hearted quiz based on fascinating facts about Mary then "Mother Inferior" Clive Burnard took part in a musical presentation before a virtual cake-cutting.
Mary's time at Wakefield Baptist Church
Michael Bradley, who served as church secretary during Mary's time at Wakefield Baptist Church, spoke about Mary's ministry, her involvement with the overnight shelter for the homeless and the asylum seekers' drop-in, through which a significant Iranian community had grown in the church. Mary had introduced the concept of a listening meeting, which encouraged everyone to take part. She had pinpointed the kind of church God wished Wakefield to be, helping people follow Jesus through spirituality, mission, justice and welcome.
Mary and Dave had the gifts of welcome and hospitality and had shared their home with many people over the years. Mary’s witness and example had been without equal - people had been grateful for her wise counsel and willingness to go the extra mile.
Mary's role nationally
Centenary Enabler for Baptists Together Jane Day said Mary had a significant profile nationally within Baptists Together and presented her with a bunch of virtual keys representing peace, persistence and participation - which highlighted Mary’s contribution nationally.
Mary and the YBA Team
Graham said he had valued Mary's friendship over the last nearly nine years. She was a very special and unique person - she was Christ-like in how she acted towards others, a brilliant speaker with real depth in her words. She showed wisdom, calmness, stability, great humility and was a champion for justice. Her ministry was full of grace and truth.
YBA Legal and Property Officer Revd Ann Chesworth encouraged Zoom participants to add their personal messages to Mary during the playing of the hymn Here is Love. The YBA Team had sent Mary a prayer shawl which was rested on her as Kez and Clive prayed.
Mary thanked everyone and said it had been a huge privilege to be called into this ministry with the YBA. "I genuinely love and care for everyone I have met and worked with."
Her retirement plans included gardening, dog-walking - and offering pastoral supervision to help other ministers. Mary and Dave planned to walk the Wilberforce Way from Hull to York this summer, highlighting the end of the transatlantic slave trade and the need for reparations from those who had profited. Mary said it would be a prayer walk. She also planned to be involved in national Baptist conversations about reparations to Britain's former Caribbean colonies.
Mary shared Jesus's manifesto, which inspired her at 13. Luke 4: 18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners." (NIV).
Graham added a farewell collection had been held among the churches, the staff and the Trustees. Mary's daughter Eleanor concluded the celebration with a sung blessing.