Black Church Figures You Should Know - Dr. Gardner C. Taylor

Why the series?

Historical Theology and Church History in the African American context is rarely celebrated. That is a very sad occasion. There is much we can learn from the rich tradition of the African American church. When we do, it affirms the great doctrine that all men are created in the Image of God and it kills the great sin of intellectual racism.

What about the series?

A few things must be noted about our list. First and foremost, please be aware that appearances on the list do not automatically confirm theological content and biblical orthodoxy. Please consider each figure in light on proper biblical interpretation and refer to our statement of beliefs when in doubt. Secondly, this list is nowhere near being exhaustive in scope or content. We are barely scratching the surface and this is merely the tip of the iceberg. We considered appearances on the list by surveying several avid supporters for their considerations based upon the figures of significant impact, rich content, and historical significance.

Dr. Gardner C. Taylor - The Dean of American Preachers

The Rev. Gardner Calvin Taylor, celebrated preacher, scholar, and former pastor of The Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn, NY was born to Washington Monroe Taylor and Selina Taylor in Baton Rouge, LA on June 18, 1918. In his early years he was baptized into the fellowship of the church where his father served as pastor, Mount Zion Baptist Church, where years later he also served as pastor.

After finishing at Leland College in 1937, Dr. Taylor earned his bachelor of Divinity degree at the Oberlin School of Theology. In addition, he was awarded numerous honorary doctorate degrees throughout his ministry. Dr. Taylor was a member of The Boule', a 33rd Degree Mason and member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated.

In 1948 Dr., Taylor was called to pastor The Concord Baptist Church, one of the most influential Christian churches in America. During this time, notoriety spread as he preached nationally and internationally, lectured at numerous seminaries, and served as president of Progressive National Baptist Convention. Dr. Taylor lectured at numerous seminaries, and served at Concord Baptist Church until in retirement in 1990.

Known as "The Dean of American preachers," he was a mentor and close friend to Martin Luther King, Jr. and was a prominent figure in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's. He preached the sermon for President William Jefferson Clinton in 1993 and in 2000 was awarded the nation's highest civilian honor by President Clinton, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 

Over 2000 of Dr. Taylor's sermons are archived at the Robert W. Woodruff Library in Atlanta, GA and many can read in his collection of sermons, The Words of Gardner Taylor: 50 years of timeless treasures. He quietly transitioned into eternity on Resurrection Sunday, April 5th 2015 at Duke University Medical center in Durham, NC at the age of 96. (Bio copied from Obituary)

For more information visit:

The Washington Post, April 5, 2015:  Civil rights leader, friend of MLK and iconic preacher Gardner C. Taylor has died.

The New York Times, Dec. 30, 2011:  A Lion of the Pulpit, Aging Now, Has a Message for New Generations.

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, Aug. 18, 2006: Reverend Gardner C. Taylor Extended Interview

From, June 18, 2009: The Pulpit King.

Check out a lecture by Dr. Taylor: