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The Taylors, shining examples of holy living, keep on giving

In 1998, The Christian Chronicle received word that it was a will recipient, along with 15 other educational, missionary and church organizations dear to Ernie and Mary Taylor’s hearts.
The spirit and lives of the Taylors were so impressive that I wanted to share this news immediately, but the editorial council decided to hold the story until the estate’s distribution was nearing completion.
So now I want to share the Taylors’ story, and that is possible only because Marilyn Finley, a cousin of Mary and the executrix of the estate, has helped me piece together much about the couple.
Mary’s and Ernie’s parents moved from Tennessee and Kentucky, respectively, to Highland Park, Mich., to find work. Both families attended Hamilton Boulevard Church of Christ. Mary and Ernie grew up in that congregation, dated in high school and married in 1934.
They were active in the church, with Ernie teaching Bible classes and serving in many ways. He was employed by Detrex Corp. and invented a thermostat used in 3-M desk copiers. Detrex allowed inventors the revenue of patents for 10 years. The Taylors lived simply and frugally, invested wisely and shared generously. Both saw life as stewardship to God.
In 1941 the couple moved to Chicago, where they became active in the Cornell Avenue Church. During the war, Marilyn said, “Sailors would visit the church. Ernie and Mary would invite them home to their one-bedroom apartment for dinner or take them out. Guests were invited to sleep on the couch if they had shore leave. The Taylors even allowed the servicemen to use their car for a date on condition that they brought the date to church.”
Mary kept records of all the servicemen they met and corresponded with them for years. Ernie was asked to serve as an elder because of his wisdom,  biblical knowledge, good judgment and commitment to God.
By 1946 Ernie began his own business as a manufacturers’ representative. He traveled across the country and always visited churches. Mary often traveled with him. Marilyn said, “Mary was not the typical wife. She was his business partner, his secretary, his accountant, his driver, his personal assistant, his confidant, his eyes, his nurse, his nutritionist, his sweetheart, his best friend and his encourager.” They were private people who could warmly visit with friends for hours without talking about themselves.
The Taylors’ sense of stewardship focused attention and resources on helping others. They assisted many with college tuition, including family members. They also made loans to allow family members to start businesses. Their extensive records indicate that they sent checks to nine colleges. They also made contributions to 21 charities not mentioned in their will. They regularly sent large gifts to the Chronicle. They helped many missionaries who returned from international sites with few retirement resources.
The Cornell Avenue church building burned in 1960, and the Taylors helped the church rebuild as the Stony Island Church of Christ, and they also sought to fully integrate the church. A friend described them as the most colorblind people he knew.
Then in 1974 their apartment building sold, prompting them to consider moving to Tennessee, where Mary’s mother had died, leaving her father alone. The move was delayed until 1978 so they could help the church fully integrate and become financially sound.
In Madison, Tenn., they became involved with the Madison Church of Christ, where they were active in members’ lives. I was given access to their church directory: It shows evidence of their seeking to know other members and their visits to many. In 1969 Ernie  became a member of York College’s advisory board and a trustee in 1971. York awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1993.
One of the most touching things I saw was a billfold Mary always had with her in times of crisis. It contains no money, but is filled with clippings of Bible texts offering encouragement. Inside the first fold of the trifold is this quotation: “We find the way to life and living is not in keeping, but in giving.”  
The Taylors, who died exactly 365 days apart, were shining examples of holy living, and their estate will ensure continuance of many great works.
COntact [email protected].

Filed under: Insight

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