Episcopal Bishop Porter Taylor appointed visiting professor
by C. Mark Batten, Office of Communications
The Rt. Rev. G. Porter Taylor, who served as the sixth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina for over a decade, has been appointed Visiting Professor of Episcopal Studies at Wake Forest University’s School of Divinity. He retired as Diocesan Bishop of the conference in September and will join the faculty in the fall of 2017.
Taylor, who will bring a meaningful combination of teaching and ministry leadership to enhance student’s ministerial preparation, said that he experienced the School of Divinity as a place that is alive.
“When I visited campus and spoke in community worship earlier this year, I was excited about and impressed with the diversity that exists in the student body and their range of interests.”
Taylor also noted that as he spoke with faculty and students during his visit, he felt a great deal of engagement and energy. “This learning community is thinking about how to partner with what God is trying to do in the world to make it a different place.”
Taylor is eager to get started in building something new at the school as he guides Master of Divinity students in exploring how they might fulfill their vocation as Episcopalians and ordained clergy, and aids the university and local communities in learning more about Episcopal identity.
“I am interested in helping students deepen their awareness of Episcopal ethos by offering teaching moments through a common experience of the Eucharist,” he said. “And by providing a space for students to explore traditions, theology, and the world with an Episcopal lens.”
Before his call to the Holy and Sacred Order of Bishops, he served seven years as rector of St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church in Athens, GA. He is the author of To Dream as God Dreams: Sermons of Hope, Conversion, and Community and From Anger to Zion: An Alphabet of Faith.
The Rev. Dr. Doug Bailey, retired School of Divinity faculty and Episcopal priest (retired), says that Bishop Taylor will actively engage the school’s balance and emphasis on faith formation and faith in action.
“Bishop Taylor is a person of deep spiritual practice, and a person who takes social justice seriously. It is rare for divinity schools today to have someone who was elected an Episcopal Bishop remain in front line work, academics, and parish commitments.”
Taylor will reside in Winston-Salem and be an integral part of the school’s faculty. “We are fortunate that we are able to take advantage of Bishop Taylor’s retirement,” said Gail R. O’Day, Dean of the School of Divinity. “He is an amazingly talented priest and Bishop, and will create new ways for the school to partner with Episcopal friends.”
One of those friends is The Rev. D. Dixon Kinser, who serves as the Rector at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Winston-Salem.
“Our parish already enjoys a rich relationship with the School of Divinity and Bishop Taylor’s presence will only deepen it,” he said. “The Bishop has a great gift for broadening the voices through which we interpret the Gospel. So whether it’s literature, film, poetry, social action, or political commentary, he is exceptional at finding the sacramental connection between the texts of our culture and Holy Scripture.”
To deepen relationships, Taylor will begin developing the formational groundwork in establishing an Episcopal Studies Program at the School of Divinity. Such a program would allow Episcopal students to fulfill ordination requirements at the School of Divinity. Currently, students interested in Episcopal ordination must complete a year of study at an Episcopal seminary to complete those requirements.
Kinser has already supervised several students who are completing their Art of Ministry internship at St. Paul’s, but to have the opportunity to mentor Postulants and help them become effective priests for the Episcopal Church will be a way Kinser believes local parishes can give back.
“The Winston-Salem Episcopal churches each represent a different expression of Episcopal worship, and together they showcase the major ecclesiastical trends of our tradition,” he said. “Students will have unique and unmatched opportunities and get a taste of what lots of different kinds of Episcopal churches are like.”
Taylor will also be a resource for and leader of lifelong learning opportunities for clergy, lay leaders, and the ecumenical church as he aids in enhancing what the School of Divinity and University are already doing around public engagement, social justice, and continuing education.