By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — When longtime Salisbury minister Raymond Edward Taylor Sr. walked into a room people noticed.
It was either his stature, standing more than 6 feet tall, or his rich baritone voice that captivated people.
But ask any member of his family and they’ll tell you, it was Taylor who was drawn to people.
Taylor, 70, who began his Salisbury ministry in the mid-1960s died July 5 at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem.
“He loved God and he loved people,” his son, Bradley, said.
Those who knew Taylor called him apostle, pastor, chief and to others he was simply known as Pop.
He didn’t meet strangers and he loved everyone, said Alease Taylor, his wife of almost 48 years.
The couple would have celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary this past Tuesday. Their union was destined, Alease believes. Her mother, the Rev. Faye Hunt, had a dream that seemed to confirm their walk down the aisle.
The two had only known each other two weeks before Taylor passed a note containing a proposal of marriage down a church pew. “The note said, ‘Will you marry me?’ ” Alease said with a smile.
Laughter sprang from the lips of the couple’s adult children as they listened Wednesday while their mother told of how she met the love of her life.
Raymond and Alease married eight months after the proposal. Within the first year of marriage, their oldest child, Jeanette, was born.
Jeanette was followed by Raymond Jr., Lisa, Christine, Kelly and Bradley.
The couple made a pinky promise to each other that they were in it for the long haul. There were no other options, “until death parted us,” Alease said.
Taylor began as a young teen minister in Pittsburgh, where he was born and raised.
He worked alongside other ministers throughout Pennsylvania and Brooklyn including renowned minister, Chief Apostle Arturo Skinner.
In 1964, Taylor began preaching in Salisbury.
When the former pastors of a church left, Taylor acquired the building and established Outreach Christian Ministries, which is still today located at West Horah Street.
Throughout the years, Taylor would travel the world — South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. But Salisbury was where he returned to his family and to his church.
“He felt committed to his mission of fulfilling his purpose of the call from God,” Alease said.
She also feels like her husband was “placed here by divine order.”
When he began in ministry, Taylor left the walls of the church and hit the streets to minister, daughter Kelly said.
It was a hallmark of his ministry where he encouraged congregants to “enter to worship and depart to serve.”
Taylor also assembled more than 100 churches throughout South Africa and created Fellowship of Revival Churches (FORC). He oversaw the network of churches, joining them together as one cohesive ministerial unit.
The hunger of the people is what drew Taylor to Africa, his wife said.
In fact, the Ibo tribe, who mainly live in Nigeria, named Taylor, chief of their tribe.
“They called him the ‘old man’,” Alease said.
Most of the African ministers, who were in their 30s, would sit at Taylor’s feet and listen, his wife said.
Taylor was “forward moving” but “constant in his anointing,” his wife said, a trait she believes the South Africans revered.
In 1980, Taylor was ordained as an apostle and years later chief apostle, a title akin to archbishop.
It wasn’t just strangers who admired Taylor, but his children as well.
Taylor taught his youngest, Bradley, also a minister, to “stick to it.”
“What he started, he would always finish. You finish what you start. You see it through no matter how hard it gets,” Bradley said.
“He taught all the girls to work on cars,” Jeanette said.
“You keep your word,” daughter Lisa said.
Taylor taught daughter Christine to see people as individuals.
“He knew how to suffer well. His physical body may not have been 100 percent, but he faced the music without complaint,” said daughter-in-law, Tramika Taylor.
In his final months, Taylor battled Burkitt’s Lymphoma, an aggressive cancer that his family said never took his mental faculties or his “infectious smile.”
What Tramika will miss is her father-in-law’s voice, “it was so commanding,” she said.
His voice was what made people stop and listen, she said.
His voice is also one of the things granddaughter, Tayloria, will miss the most, she said.
A highlight was getting all the children lined up to collect a dollar from their father. As children they were thrilled to receive money that they could spend on anything.
Bradley, ever the entrepreneur, would always turn his dollar into a profit.
The family home was the place to be for people who had no where else to go.
The Taylor home at one time housed 16 people and the children often gave up their bed for guests.
“Everybody was welcomed,” Christine said.
Alease recalled one time she’d made a turkey when there were about 14 people in the home at the time. The next morning she found her husband had polished off the last half of the turkey.
“He said, ‘I thought everybody had eaten,’ ” Alease said with a smile.
The children have fond memories of using their father’s size 13 shoes as skis when it snowed and their one-day family beach trips.
There were always car trips when the family would accompany Taylor when he ministered. When he got sleepy while driving the children broke out in songs.
They would hum a riff, belt out a note and clap all the way home.
The very memory caused all the Taylor children Wednesday to break out in song and then erupt in laughter.
Services for Chief Apostle Raymond Edward Taylor Sr. are today at Omwake-Dearborn Chapel on the campus of Catawba College, 2300 W. Innes St., Salisbury.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.
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