The Rev. Gardner C. Taylor, one of the leading voices on faith, politics and social justice during the civil rights movement, died Sunday of a heart attack, the New York Times reports. He was 96 years old.
Taylor presided over a 10,000-member congregation in Brooklyn, N.Y., at the Concord Baptist Church of Christ from 1948 to 1990. There, he grew his following and cemented his place in black American culture as “one of the nation’s most eloquent churchmen,” the Times explains.
Taylor had attended a church service in Durham, N.C., earlier Sunday, and then had lunch with his wife, Phillis Taylor. He later died at the Duke University Medical Center. Taylor had been living in North Carolina for about 25 years, having retired there.
According to the Times, Taylor had written several books and 2,000 sermons, was the recipient of 15 honorary doctorates, and was a brilliant craftsman who combined Scripture with “mystical allusions” and straight talk to impart his sermons to African-American audiences.
Media organizations consistently praised his work, the Times explains: Time magazine called him “the dean of black preachers in America,” and Baylor University described how he transcended race and was one of the most effective preachers in all of the English-speaking world.
Read more at the New York Times.