Former Bishop of St Albans John Taylor dies
- Credit: supplied
St Albans Cathedral had its flag flying at half mast yesterday (Thursday) to mourn the death of a former Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev John Taylor.
Rt Rev Taylor, who died on Wednesday night (1), was Bishop of St Albans from 1980 to 1995.
The 87 year old spent many years living in Hertfordshire, but for much of his retirement he had lived in Cambridge.
The Cathedral said: “It has been announced with great sadness that Bishop John B. Taylor died peacefully in his sleep on the evening of Wednesday 1 June, at the Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted.
“Please remember Bishop John, his widow Linda, and all their family in your prayers. Funeral arrangements will be advised in due course.”
He was active with the ministry of the Church of England for many years, in parishes, and theological colleges.
Rt Rev Taylor was also the author of a number of religious books.
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He wrote a searingly honest - and humorous - account about life as an evangelical bishop in 1997, where he revealed the process of selection and his appointment as bishop in 1980.
Rt Rev Taylor had been a vice-principal of a theological college, a vicar of a large parish, combined with the diocesan post of director of ordinands, and then an archdeacon.
He said: “It was when the letter came from Downing Street that all this, by now just manageable, world was turned upside down.
“It was totally unexpected and the only word I can think of to describe the feeling was that I was traumatised. I was gripped with fears, mainly of being a disastrous failure after [previous Bishop of St Albans] Robert Runcie’s undeniable success at St Albans.”
Rt Rev Taylor said that initially, his health and sleep were affected, and “not even a satisfactory medical examination, which Downing Street insisted on, allayed the appalling sense of apprehension and foreboding.
“Here was I, brought up in the evangelical world … being launched upon a diocese with at least four generations of Tractarian bishops over the previous 60 years of its history. How ever would I cope?”
After receiving some words of advice, he “wrote back to Margaret Thatcher and said yes.”
Rt Rev Taylor said that the announcement of his appointment as Bishop of St Albans “after nearly four weeks of nail-biting silence and secrecy broke the tension and gave rise to an avalanche of mail, nearly all friendly.”
He noted “cautious welcoming from St Albans clergy who must have wondered what ever was coming their way”.
During consecration in Westminster Abbey, and he was asked whether he believed God had called him to the office and work of a bishop in the church, Rt Rev Taylor admitted he “would have preferred to be somewhere else. But God’s call, I had to learn, is not necessarily what I would like to do or what I feel myself cut out for; it comes through the church, and unless there is real cause to say no, the only proper response is to submit.”
Reflecting back on his time as Bishop of St Albans for 15 years, Rt Rev Taylor said: “Most of the time, the work of a bishop is deeply rewarding. Every event was a challenge, when in a parish among friends, or in a public place before a critical audience, the sense of apprehension never left me, even after 15 years in the job.
“Those initial fears subsided and were replaced by a sense of privilege and the responsibility of the task of caring for the people of God and of trying to lead them closer to him.”
• Tributes to Rt Rev Taylor will be published in next week’s Herts Advertiser.