Service marks anniversary of Dan Taylor's death
A service marking the bicentenary of the death of a key figure in Baptist history and someone known as “the Wesley of the Baptists” has taken place in the town he came from
Dan Taylor was a Halifax man who, rejecting Calvinism and Unitarianism, led a group of General Baptist and independent Methodist churches to form the New Connection.
Formed in 1770, the New Connection would eventually merge with the Baptist Union in 1891.
Taylor influenced William Carey (known as the father of modern missions) as well as establishing the first General Baptist training college. He is said to have travelled on foot and horseback some 25,000 miles to attend 250 conferences, preached 20,000 sermons and published 50 books and pamphlets, 'evangelistic journeying to rival those of the founder of Methodism', according to Baptist historian John Hudson.
On Sunday (27 November) a service in his honour was held at Lee Mount Baptist Church in Halifax, alongside the congregation from Queensbury Baptist Church in Bradford.
‘The influence of the General Baptists of the New Connection has made our Union what it is today,’ said Lee Mount minister, the Revd Terry Hepworth.
‘Taylor believed in a gospel for all, that Christ died for the whole world. He didn’t believe in predestination. Without him the General Baptists would have probably disappeared, and we would have been left with one strand of Baptist thought.
‘The coming together of the two theologies has been to the benefit of Baptists here and around the world.’
The service was structured as closely as possible in the style of a service from Taylor’s day. The hymns were all from the era, including O Worship the King all glorious above; The God of Abraham praise, All hail the power of Jesus name and Fill thou my life O Lord my God. They were accompanied by an organ, beginning to be used by Baptist churches of the time.
The Bible readings were taken from the King James Version. Terry’s address was based on one of Dan Taylor’s booklets, entitled Scripture directions and encouragements to feeble minded Christians. (Terry’s modern translation was: The Weak Christian - Encouraged to wait upon God for Strength, with some directions). Prayers of intercession took place after the sermon.
There was also a short presentation about Dan Taylor’s life by Baptist historian John Hudson, who emphasised the impact Taylor had on Carey, whose work led to the founding of BMS World Mission 1792.
He explained that Taylor was a good friend of John Fawcett, and together they jointly prepared John Sutcliff for Bristol Baptist College. John Sutcliff later prepared William Carey for ministry and argued in favour of the less strict Calvinism originally promoted by Jonathan Edwards which later came to be known as Fullerism.
Taylor was later called to ministry at Whitechapel in London where he established the first General Baptist training college which, after various moves around the Midlands, merged with Rawdon Baptist College (now Northern Baptist College), itself a result of much earlier work by his friend, John Fawcett.
John has written more extensively here:
‘The service all fitted together really well,’ said Terry. ‘The older members particularly enjoyed the organ, which we haven’t used for 12 months.
‘There was a great meal afterwards.’
He added, ‘The General Baptists of West Yorkshire would not have existed without Dan Taylor. Indeed, it’s in our constitution that the minister must be of a General Baptist persuasion.
‘People like Dan Taylor can get lost in history, and we felt it was important to acknowledge his ongoing contribution to our life.’
The 2017 Whitley Lecture focuses on Dan Taylor. The lecture is led by the Revd Dr Richard T. Pollard, minister & Team Leader, Fishponds Baptist Church, Bristol.
'This lecture provides new light on his theology and asks questions about the origins of evangelicalism and the way it was shaped by the values of the Enlightenment. Taylor was an innovator, a thinker and a pioneer, and worth our attention when contemplating the missional challenges of the 21st century.'
For more visit: http://www.bristol-baptist.ac.uk/event/whitley-lecture-2017-pioneering-evangelicalism-dan-taylor/