Linda Valentine, executive director of the General Assembly Mission Council, chose Taylor — a lawyer-turned-minister and previously the pastor of a large congregation in California — as one of her top assistants about three years ago. Now Taylor will take the top job at the foundation, replacing Robert E. Leech, who led the foundation for nine years before retiring in June 2009.
Taylor’s appointment comes at a strategically important time for a number of reasons. The foundation, along with the rest of the financial institutions in the country, is trying to recover as quickly as possible from the economic hammering of recent months.
Relations between the foundation and the General Assembly Mission Council have been testy, although apparently improving. Disagreements over finances spilled into public view at the 2008 General Assembly and before; however, there have been some signs of reconciliation in recent months.
And the PC(USA), facing a continuing slide in membership and the prospect of more layoffs for its national staff in 2010, is searching for new sources of revenue and fundraising.
Taylor will bring to the job some name recognition and familiarity with top players in the church, and an easiness in meeting people. He’s friendly and informal – before moving to Louisville he was pastor of the Glenkirk Church in Glendora, Calif., an evangelical congregation of about 1,400, and is a member of San Gabriel Presbytery. Previously he practiced law for about five years in Salt Lake City.
According to background information provided by the foundation, Taylor has a doctorate in intercultural studies from Fuller Theological Seminary; a law degree from the University of Illinois; a Master of Divinity from Yale University; and an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois.
The new job also comes at a challenging time personally for Taylor — he’s been battling illness this fall, including an unexpected hospitalization and slow recovery from H1N1 flu.
During the period following Leech’s retirement, an interim chief executive officer, Richard Clay, has led the foundation. Clay is a lawyer from Louisville and former trustee of the foundation’s board.
Taylor will start his new position with the foundation on Jan. 15.