An older Dr. Jerry Taylor finally got his answer.
“I now understand why,” he said, sitting in his office in ACU’s Biblical Studies Building.
Taylor discovered his “why” through years of questioning – and listening. He wanted to know why he grew up without a relationship with his biological father. As a youngster in rural West Tennessee, he would find a quiet space where he could be alone with his thoughts.
“I spent a lot of time in solitude,” he said.
Gradually, the revelation came. He was to become what he is today – a preacher, teacher and a mentor to college students, and even a father-figure to those who grew up with no father.
“I try to be extra sensitive to those who may have grown up experiencing father-absence in their lives,” he said. “I seek to participate in the healing of their souls in that area.”
Further opportunities for that kind of healing and mentoring are now available with the opening of the Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action in Room 111 of the Biblical Studies Building. Taylor will be the center’s director, which he named for a former ACU Bible professor who chastised the university during the 1960 Bible Lectureship for not admitting African-American students.
The center will provide a place to advance the academic study of racism and will provide mentoring, spiritual retreats, conferences and lecture series designed to lead to spiritual actions of genuine brother and sisterhood.
A part of Taylor’s process for healing is the practice of silence. Once or twice a year, Taylor takes students to a monastery in South Texas that requires several days of solitude. In those several days, participants are totally alone and silent for 22 hours a day, with two hours set aside for “sharing of the fruits of solitude.”
The retreat takes place at Labh Shomea House of Prayer near Sarita, Texas, on the famed King Ranch. Hermits live there year-round and invite others to participate in their way of life for spiritual renewal.
The name “Lebh Shomea” comes from Solomon’s response to God in 1 Kings 3:9: “Give your servant lebh shomea (a listening heart) so as to be able to discern.”
Taylor didn’t meet his biological father until 1995 when Taylor was 34. The year was an eventful one. In 1995, Taylor also earned his doctor of ministry degree at SMU and his wife, Pat, gave birth to their first child, Alisha.
The timing was providential. His father died the following year, and Taylor was grateful the two had met.
“I just knew this was something I needed to do for my own internal healing,” he said.
Now at peace, Taylor leads a full and happy life in Abilene. His wife, Pat, works at the Abilene Public Library and is completing a master of library science degree from Texas Woman’s University.
Their oldest child, Alisha, graduated from ACU in 2017 and is an actress. Their son, Jeremiah, is a sophomore at ACU.
Born in Covington, Tenn., Taylor grew up in Millington, Tenn., the youngest of three boys. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Bible in 1984 from Southwestern Christian College in Terrell, near Dallas. He earned a master of divinity degree in 1988 from Southern Methodist University’s Perkins School of Theology and added a doctor of ministry degree from Perkins in 1995.
Taylor started teaching at ACU in 2003 and now is seeing a dream come true with the opening of the Carl Spain Center on Race Studies and Spiritual Action, which was one of the faculty goals he set for himself.
“We’re thrilled about it,” he said. “It’s finally coming to fruition.”