Rev. John Stuart Taylor, III (Stuart)

Formal Education

Master of Divinity
Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ (1980)

Bachelor of Arts in Religion
Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC (1976)

Work Experience

Anti-poverty Community Organizer
Casa Maria, Tucson, AZ (2011-2012)

Co-pastor/Head of staff
St. Mark Presbyterian, Tucson, AZ (1993-2011)

Crisis Counselor
Crossing Place, Washington, DC (1990-1993)

National Staff
Witness for Peace, Durham, NC (1986-1990)

Long-term volunteer
Witness for Peace, Nicaragua and US (1984-1986)

Associate Pastor
First Presbyterian Church, Athens, GA (1980-1983)

SC State/Baptist Hospital, Columbia, SC (1978-1979)

Published Works

Say to this Mountain: Mark Story of Discipleship, Co-Author
St. Francis and the Foolishness of God, Co-Author

Personal Summary

Stuart was called to serve as the Pastor/Head of Staff for Elkin Presbyterian Church in January of 2013.  He was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina where his parents were charter members of the John Knox Presbyterian Church. He has two daughters. Rachel is finishing up at Tucson High School and her interests include active involvement in several sports, sustainable agriculture, steel drums and boys. She reads about two to three books a week as does her older sister. Lilly is a sophomore at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon and is an aspiring artist, a free thinker, and a gifted writer like her mother. His daughters are the apples of his eye. Stuart enjoys a daily exercise in the gym, hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, camping, reading, movies, dinner conversation, and researching his family history.

Statement of Faith

I believe in the Triune God: Creator, Christ, and Spirit. I affirm the Trinitarian mystery of Divine Lover, The Beloved and Love Itself. I believe that while God is a mystery beyond human comprehension, God is best known as a sending God. As the Father sent the Son, and as the Father and Son sent the Spirit, so we are called and sent as the people of God to bear witness to God’s redeeming love for the world. This “missional” approach to theology demands that we rethink and reshape the Christendom approaches to theology and ecclesiology and the practice of ministry. We are in need of a new Reformation for our time and place.

I believe in the church as the body of Christ, called to live out the message and practice of the Reign of God as revealed to us in Jesus Christ: a self-giving sacrificial love for the world, a faithful commitment to servant-hood, and a prophetic devotion to doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God. The church is called to bear witness in its common life of worship and service to the mission of God with humanity. Through the grace of Jesus Christ we are called to live in joy, gratitude and humility. In this age of profound human suffering, we must practice the compassionate healing and welcoming hospitality as modeled in the life of Jesus.

I believe in the sacraments, of Holy Communion as the continuation of the open table fellowship of Jesus practiced throughout his earthly ministry; and of baptism as the defining sign of our participation in the death and resurrection of Christ. Each Sabbath day, the church gathers as disciples around our Risen Lord, who feeds us, heals us, teaches us and empowers us. Each Sabbath day, the gathered disciples are then sent back into the world as empowered Apostles, proclaiming Good news of God’s transforming grace in everyday life.

I believe that the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the living Word of God and authoritative for discerning God’s intention for humanity. We must find ways to read scripture in community that find us less judging and condemning of others, while at the same time, taking more seriously the radical claims of the Bible. In a post-modern world where no narrative seemingly has authority, we reclaim this Bible as the meta-narrative of God's covenantal relationship with God’s people and with all creation.

The call to stewardship changes the discourse from what I have earned and what is rightfully mine to being entrusted with gifts and treasures that I have the privilege to share. Whether it is the gift of time or the gift of this beautiful creation in which we live, I feel called to be a faithful steward of all that God has given me. When we dwell with people on the margins of society, we enter a place where Jesus frequently dwelled in his earthly ministry and is also present today in the least of these. We go there not merely to give in a patronizing way, but recognizing that dwelling with the poor and afflicted offers a reciprocal blessing. Being in community with poor people creates fertile ground for the work of the Holy Spirit.

It is my deepest joy to seek to follow in the ways of Jesus Christ and to live in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is profoundly freeing to be led by God who is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. The life of prayer is the wellspring of living water in the ground of my being. As we work for and await God’s new creation when God will be all in all, we are a people of hope in solidarity with a suffering creation groaning for liberation. Come Lord Jesus, Come!

Elkin Presbyterian Church | 151 Hillcrest Drive | Elkin NC  28621 | 336.835.4545