Nancy Taylor, 1981 M.Div.

2009Distinction in Congregational Ministry

Nancy Taylor ’81 M.Div. is the first woman to serve as senior minister at Old South Church in Boston, one of the nation’s most historic churches. She has been at Old South since 2005, having previously served as minister and president of the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ.  As the leader of the largest Protestant denomination in Massachusetts, Taylor helped draft legislation making clergy mandated reporters of suspected child abuse; worked to establish a public voice for the United Church of Christ; supervised $1.5 million Lilly Endowment grant for a pastoral excellence program; hosted Freedom Schooner Amistad’s visit to Boston Harbor; and worked with interfaith leaders in the aftermath of 9/11. She also served congregations in Boise, ID; Hartford, CT; and East Stoneham/North Waterford, ME.  She was a cofounder of the Idaho Human Rights Education Center and was instrumental in the effort that successfully defeated two anti-gay ballot initiatives and helped to secure a minimum wage for Idaho farm workers. She served as the Moderator of the General Synod of the United Church of Christ (1999-2001).  At a conference on “The Future of the Congregation” held at YDS in the spring, Taylor said a key element is to convey the excitement of the Gospel in church: “I would propose that part of what needs to happen is that it needs to be a place that is truly exciting in which people are being connected with things that matter deeply...Church can and ought to be as riveting, as enthralling, as compelling, in its own way, as is Fenway Park when the Sox are in town...We want that person to break that thing open, that Word, give it to us in a way that helps us to see and feel God’s presence.  I think some excitement, as well as elegance and beauty and contemplation, is what’s wanted.”