URC Minister dies after road accident

The Revd Margaret Taylor has died after an accident close to the church where she had lead prayers.

After the morning service at Loughborough United Reformed Church (URC) on 23 December, Revd Taylor, aged 88, was struck by a car and later died of her injuries. The accident took place in Frederick Street and the police have appealed for witnesses.

Revd Taylor was the first woman to be trained for ministry and ordained by the Presbyterian Church of England.

Accepted for training at Westminster College, Cambridge in 1959, she found herself accepted by her fellow students. She acknowledged the same was not true of at all theological college principals in Cambridge at the time.

Like many women of her generation, Margaret did not dwell on the resistance to them in ministry but got on with serving the Church with such distinction that grounds for opposition grew ever harder to justify.

Ordained in 1964, her first pastorate was Nunthorpe, near Middlesbrough, where she also took on responsibility for Eston URC.

During her time at Nunthorpe she saw its development from meeting in the village hall to having a purpose-built new church on its own site. She was also an active member of a clergy group which participated in the development of religious broadcasting on Teesside.

In 1981, Revd Taylor became the URC’s Christian Education Secretary, and then served as the church’s Faith and Life Secretary. In 1986 she was called to Doddridge Memorial Church in Northampton, where she combined local ministry with the role of Training Officer for East Midlands Province until her retirement in 1999.

She was instrumental in achieving a successful redevelopment of the premises in Northampton as The Doddridge Centre, providing space for local community organisations and activities, while retaining the URC presence in that part of the town.

Margaret keenly promoted hymnody and church music whenever she could. She was on the editorial committee which produced the URC hymn book Rejoice and Sing in 1991 and worked on the indexes for it. The hymn book benefitted from her eye for detail and accuracy as well as her perseverance.

Revd Taylor was also a strong advocate for the place of children in the whole of the church, including their sharing in communion. In 2016 she was one of the Jubilee ministers recognised by General Assembly. In 2018 she was presented with a certificate by the East Midlands Synod.

She is survived by her twin sister the Revd Ella Taylor-Walsh, a retired minister of the United Church of Canada, as well as her brother, Bruce, his wife Valerie and their daughter Alison.