The Reverend John Taylor

3rd August 2012 at 01:00
The headteacher and parish minister who championed RE in schools has died, aged 85

The Reverend John Taylor, who has died at the age of 85, was a fine example of the Church of Scotland's concern for and involvement in education since the days of John Knox's unfulfilled vision of a church and school in every parish.

He was born in Swansea, however, and educated mostly beyond Scotland. He attended Swansea Grammar and Dynevor Secondary before going to Worcester College, Oxford, in 1943.

His student days were interrupted by service as a Royal Signals Instructor from 1945-48, when he returned to Worcester College, graduating with honours in 1949. He then studied for the ministry at Glasgow and graduated in divinity in 1952.

His ministries took him from Glasgow North Kelvinside and Eastwood to Lincluden Church in Dumfries, and the Presbyterian Church of England, Woolston St Mary's in Southampton. His last charge was St Andrews in Irvine.

After 10 years there, he left the parish ministry to go into teaching and was appointed a teacher of religious education in Ravenscraig Academy in Irvine. He later became depute headteacher at Garnock Academy in Kilbirnie and then headteacher of Auchenharvie Academy in Stevenston, a post he held until he retired in 1989.

While he was recognised as an able and visionary headteacher, he was also committed to making sure that religious education was a properly recognised subject in the school curriculum.

He chaired the working party that set up the O grade in religious studies, and he was a chairman of the Scottish Examination Board for religious studies for six years. He also chaired the Central Support Group for Creative and Aesthetic Studies.

John Taylor's importance in the world of education was recognised when he was elected chairman of the Forum on Scottish Education, and when he was made a Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland in 1996.

He was the natural person to be appointed to be a church representative on the education committee of the then Strathclyde Regional Council. It was also inevitable that the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland would want to benefit from his advice, and in 1988 he became a member of the assembly's committee on education, taking over as convener in 1989, a post he held until 1995.

In 1990, he became the associate minister of Galston Parish Church, and in 1992 he was elected moderator of the Presbytery of Irvine and Kilmarnock. When his term as convener of the general assembly's education committee ended, the assembly warmly recognised how much both education and the church owed "to his keen analytical mind and to his Christian convictions".

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