Head teacher and parish minister
Born: November 4, 1926; Died: July 2, 2012.
Rev John Taylor, who has died at the age of 85, was a fine example of the Church of Scotland's concern for and involvement in education since the days of John Knox's unfulfilled vision of a church and school in every parish. He himself, however, was born in Swansea and mostly educated beyond Scotland. He went to Swansea Grammar School and Dynevor Secondary School, and then to Worcester College Oxford in 1943.
His student days were interrupted by service as a Royal Signals Instructor from 1945-8, when he returned to Worcester College, graduating with honours in 1949. He then studied for the ministry at Glasgow, and graduated in divinity in 1952. He was an assistant minister, first in North Kelvinside Church with the legendary Rev Tom Allan whose dynamic ministry was such an important feature of the post-war Church of Scotland. He then spent a year with the scholarly Dr Thomas in Eastwood Parish in Glasgow.
In 1953 he went to be the first minister of Lincluden Church in Dumfries. It was what was called a church-extension church, established in a new housing area, and, as was the practice at the time, its building was a combined church and hall. After five years there Mr Taylor moved south, to a congregation of the Presbyterian Church of England, Woolston St Mary's in Southampton for two years before returning to Scotland to be minister of another church extension charge, St Andrews in Irvine. After 10 years there he left the parish ministry to go into teaching, and was appointed a teacher of religious education in Ravenscraig Academy in Irvine. He later became deputy head at Garnock Academy in Kilbirnie and then head teacher of Auchenharvie Academy in Stevenston, a post he held till he retired in 1989.
While he was recognised as an able and visionary head teacher, he was also committed to making sure that Religious Education was a properly recognised subject in the school curriculum.
He chaired the working party which set up the O-grade in Religious Studies, and he was a chairman of the Scottish Examination Board for religious studies for six years. He also chaired the Central Support Group for Creative and Aesthetic Studies.
John Taylor's importance in the world of education was recognised when he was elected chairman of the Forum on Scottish Education, and when he was made a Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland in 1996. He was the natural person to be appointed to be a Church Representative on the Education Committee of the then Strathclyde Regional Council. It was also inevitable that the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland would want to benefit from his advice, and in 1988 he became a member of the Assembly's Committee on Education, taking over as Convener in 1989, a post he held until 1995.
In 1990 he became the associate minister of Galston Parish Church, and in 1992 he was elected Moderator of the Presbytery of Irvine and Kilmarnock. When his term as Convener of the Assembly's Education Committee ended, the Assembly warmly recognised how much education and the church owed "to his keen analytical mind and to his Christian convictions".
John Taylor is survived by his wife Constance Jean, his children Stephen, Philip, Andrew and Jane and his four grandchildren.
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