Hiking the hills of Austin. Kayaking Lady Bird Lake.
Reading. Seeing God at work transforming people’s lives.
We’re getting to know our new senior pastor!
Q&A Interview with Taylor
How has God shaped your ministry as a pastor?
In both life and ministry, very few things have gone according to my well-crafted plans! God continues to remind me that my job isn’t to make the plan; my job is to be on the ride, to show up fully at every turn. I didn’t plan on becoming a pastor when I first went to seminary, but that changed quickly when I got to experience pastoral ministry first-hand through a required internship. Then, just as I settled into being a pastor, I was unexpectedly asked to come and serve on the Conference staff. A couple of years later, while I was pregnant with my third child, the Bishop asked me to serve as Senior Pastor at Westbury UMC in Houston. My first Sunday was six weeks before my due date! God has surprised me with the turns, but even more so with God’s steady presence and faithfulness. I have found grace at every turn.
What excites you the most about serving as Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church?
It is impossible to pick just one thing! I am passionate about urban ministry and the creative ways God uses downtown churches as a force to impact the city. I am excited to draw on the long, rich history at FUMC as a springboard into the future. I am delighted to serve a congregation who is deeply committed to including those who have too long been hurt by the Church, especially our siblings in the LGBTQ community.
Perhaps the thing I’ve been most excited about is how many times I’ve heard of this congregation’s heart for mission. From District Superintendent Teresa Welborn, to those inside and outside the church, literally dozens of people have spoken of FUMC’s generosity and commitment to serve the marginalized in Austin and beyond. Wow! I can’t wait to learn more and dream together about what God might do with us next!
How do you regroove or regenerate spiritually?
In general, I live right on the line between an extrovert and an introvert, but when it comes to my spiritual life, I thrive on solitude. I need to get away regularly for a few hours or a few
days, to spend time sorting through what’s going on in my soul-the joys and the pains I get too busy to acknowledge. I need that time when there are fewer demands on me and I am free to simply be in communion with the Creator. This can happen in many ways-a morning on the lake or on a long walk, a day of prayer at a local retreat center, or a retreat with others-but I find that I’m healthiest when I schedule those things on a regular basis, rather than waiting until I feel it’s needed.
What are your favorite foods?
I’m a native Texan, so I was raised on Mexican food and good brisket! My husband is the foodie-he’ll eat anything, while I am easy to please! In seminary, I survived on a diet of Peanut Butter and Jelly and Easy Mac. Even now, peanut butter is a staple for me just as much as for my kids! I love a really good salad or a burger with blue cheese and bacon, and Mediterranean food is always a hit for me!
What is your favorite vacation spot?
Most of our vacation time is spent visiting family in places like Nebraska, New York, and Michigan, but when we have the opportunity, we go to the mountains! Estes Park, Colorado is a special place for both Brad and me, and we honeymooned in Breckenridge. A year ago, I had never done any international travel, but last fall we were blessed to attend a continuing education trip to Scotland and England, and this spring we enjoyed cruising in the Rhone valley of France. So now we are world travelers!
Where did you and your husband meet?
Brad and I met while working for a summer mission trip experience called Group Workcamps, similar to ASP. Brad was a teacher, and I was a college student, so we spent our summers going from one city to another, setting up and running mission camps for youth groups. My first summer, we were assigned to two camps together, in New Mexico and West Virginia. We hit it off, but the timing wasn’t right, and we were both intimidated by our age difference-I was 19 and he was 30! The following summer we were scheduled together again for two more camps-an amazing “coincidence.” By that time, there was no denying the sparks between us!
What is your secret to juggling family and work?
Ha! There’s no secret! It’s messy and complicated, and it requires a lot of help from others. My perspective on ministry is that it requires flexibility, such as early morning hospital visits, late meetings, and week-long trips, but it offers a lot of flexibility, too, so that I’m often able to attend the award ceremony at my child’s school in the middle of the day. Our family is the same way: we require a lot of flexibility with one another to do what is needed, but each of us can also offer flexibility and a willingness to roll with the punches. Some days are better than others!
What are you looking forward to the most in your next season of ministry?
I’m just ready to get started! Pastoral ministry comes with this incredible privilege of being woven into the lives of others. I’m done with the anticipation and the wondering; now, I’m just ready to get to know you, the people of FUMC-to hear your stories and share mine; to see where God is already at work among you and dream together about what’s next; to walk together through joy and pain; to ask hard questions; to yearn and work and cry together for justice; and to find out who God is inviting us to seek out and love. There’s nothing better than journeying through life together! I’m so glad to be on this journey with you. ■