Nancy S. Taylor has served since 2005 as the 20th senior minister and chief executive officer of Old South Church. The dual nature of this role reflects Old South’s dual identity as both a thriving urban church, and an historic leadership institution in Boston (and, as such, steward of storied events and personages, of a National Historic Landmark Building, as well as collections of rare books and silver).
Under Nancy’s leadership, Old South Church has grown remarkably in ways measurable (worship services, attendance, participation, programming, national profile, financial stewardship) and immeasurable (there is a palpably spirited ‘buzz” at the church, a sense of excitement and joy in the work we are doing). The Church, recognized in 2011 as a United Church of Christ (UCC) “Center for Excellence,” has grown in its vocation as a teaching church and developed an exciting Vision for the 21st Century in which it is engaged. The Church has exercised ecumenical and interfaith leadership, for instance, in hosting worship services on the inauguration of Deval Patrick as Governor, convening the leadership who planned services and events on the tenth anniversary of 9/11, addressing growing instances of Islamaphobia, and ministering to the city following the bombings at the Boston Marathon Finish Line.
Nancy describes her enthusiasm for the ministry of Old South Church: “To enter the life of Old South Church is to step into and become a part of a great stream of history. You stand in the same waters as Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams and Phillis Wheatley. You take your place in the movement of God’s people that goes back to Abraham and Sarah and wends its way down through the ages. It is humbling and thrilling. To ask ‘To what is God calling us in this age?’ is to hear the echoes of prior ages. You want to measure yourself by the great ones who have come before. You want to rise to the moment and to serve God in this time. Such is the pull of Old South Church.”
Nancy studied at Macalester College (B.A.), Yale Divinity School (M.Div.) and Chicago Theological Seminary (D. Min.). Before her call to Old South Church, she served as Minister and President of the Massachusetts Conference of the UCC (2001-2005). During this time, Nancy was instrumental in introducing the legislation making clergy mandated reporters of suspected child abuse; worked to establish a public voice for the UCC; supervised a $1.5 million Lilly Endowment grant for pastoral excellence program; hosted Freedom Schooner Amistad’s visit to Boston Harbor; and worked with inter-religious leaders in the aftermath of 9/11.
Nancy has served churches in Idaho, Connecticut, and Maine. She co-founded the Idaho Human Rights Education Center (see Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial and Idaho Voices of Faith for Human Rights). During her tenure as Senior Minister of First Congregational Church in Boise, Idaho, Nancy was instrumental in efforts that successfully defeated two anti-gay ballot initiatives and helped to secure a minimum wage for Idaho farm workers. She was Moderator of the General Synod of the UCC (1999-2001), the highest elected volunteer position in the denomination.
Nancy’s ministry has been recognized through several awards and honors: The Andy Gustafson Generosity Award (2017), The Rabbi Murray I. Rothman Award for outstanding inter-religious leadership (2011); Yale Divinity School’s award for Distinction in Congregational Ministry (2009); the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry Building Bridges Award (2006); the Hewlett Packard Award for Distinguished Leadership in Human Rights (1999); Macalester College’s George W. Davis Memorial Prize in Religion (1981). She was named among the Boston Globe’s “Best of the New Faces” (2005) and has been awarded honorary degrees by Piedmont College (2015), New England School of Law (2010), and Albertson College of Idaho (1998).
Nancy co-chairs the Dean’s Advisory Council at Yale Divinity School. She is an independent trustee of Pax World Funds, the oldest socially responsible mutual fund listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and is chair of the Funds’ Governance Committee. She serves on the Advisory Boards of both Hebrew College’s Miller Center for Interreligious Life and Boston College’s Center for Religion in American Public Life. She is a trustee of the Old South Meeting House, and trustee emeritus of the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology.