It's a privilege to be here on this day of sadness yet in celebration of a life that has been such a witness to Jesus Christ and a life well lived.
Ron and NZCMS.
“Following Jesus the Trailblazer” was the title Ron gave to a talk about his life and ministry to a men’s group in 2009. And while Ron may have been following Jesus his Lord and Saviour, he too was a trail blazer witnessing to God’s glory and the life-saving death of Jesus on the cross.
Ron Taylor and Barbara, were NZCMS Mission Partners in Tanzania from 1964 to 1974 along with their four daughters: Elisabeth, Katherine, Alison, Priscilla. In 1964 Ron, Barbara and family went by ship via Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth to Columbo and then Bombay and finally across to Dar-es-Salaam.
Ron was versatile. From 1964 to 1967 while initially destined to teach at the theological college, Ron was made Diocesan Secretary which involved oversite of 61 Primary and three secondary schools in a vast diocese, was also responsible for visiting and training pastors and evangelists in the villages as well as serving as the Chaplain to the Dodoma Cathedral and Msalato Girls’ School. Ron also supported the planning and construction of a new 70 bed conference centre and became its first warden.
Family was important to Ron, and family holidays were an adventure, and on occasion, a misadventure. (Thank you Elisabeth, Katherine, Alison, Priscilla for sharing some of those stories with me.)
After Home Leave and Service in NZ in mid 1967, Ron, Barbara and family returned to Tanzania to a place called Arusha, Ron to be Chaplain to an English speaking international congregation and to take up the role of Rural Dean of two northern Deaneries and support the ministries of African clergy in Swahili speaking congregations. Barbara taught at Arusha School. During his whole time in Tanzania Ron maintained a regime of theological study, and a highlight for Ron was being asked to assist at the Nairobi University Mission led by Rev Dr John Stott.
Home leave & Service came around again from the end 1971 to mid-1972. Upon returning to Tanzania and Arusha in 1972 as “Provincial Secretary of the Church of the Province of Tanzania” Ron travelled widely, and along with some colleagues prepared and published some new Swhaili and English Liturgies. Ron was the appointed Chaplain of the University of Dar-e-salaam from 1973 to August 1974. In this time Ron and the RC Chaplain designed and built an ecumenical chapel which was distinctive with African carvings on the Lord’s table and other furniture. At the end of this time Ron was also privileged to lead a team of delegates to the Congress on World Evangelisation in Lausanne.
Ron and Barbara were totally committed to the calling God had placed on their hearts to share the Good News to those who had not heard of Jesus Christ. When Ron talked with me of highlights of his time in Tanzania he spoke about about seeing people commit and come to Christ and of a growing church.
At the beginning of 1975 the family returned to New Zealand. In 1975 Ron was elected to NZCMS Council, and in 1976 to the role of Chairman of finance and buildings committee. It was at this time he also wrote up his research thesis on The Growth of Tanzanian Churches and the Aide They Received From Overseas Sources.
From 1992 until 1999 Ron took up the role of General Secretary of the Anglican Board of Missions , and during most of this time he was also the ABM representative on the NZCMS Council.
It was in this time that my family and I first met Ron. We were in South Asia for language exams and Ron was passing through on the way to a conference of some description. He took time out to take us all to a rather flash restaurant and ‘Uncle Ron,’ as he insisted the children call him, wowed our children with stories. Ron had the ability to make people feel special and his interest in us and our work at that early time of our family’s mission service was memorable and encouraging. I know we were not the only ones supported by Ron in this way.
Ron was became NZCMS Vice-President from March 2002 through to March 2007, and Ron was also NZCMS Council Chairperson from 2003-2007. I had the privilege of coming on to NZCMS Council at the start of this time and Ron always impressed me with his ability to recall names, faces and conversations, as well as the important details of Council discussions and decisions. What a great ability to bring to the role of Chairperson. Over 18 months it was Ron who coaxed me to chair different small portions of the NZCMS Council meetings. I didn’t realise at the time, but this was Ron’s succession plan and so I was mentored to be ready to follow in his footsteps.
Ron was made a NZCMS Life Member March 2008.
Ron always impressed me with his unshakable faith and belief in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and his passion for NZCMS and Overseas Mission, especially his passion for sharing with people who did not know the Good News of God’s amazing gift of Jesus, and the availability of a living relationship with our Heavenly Father. His relationship with Jesus was deep and personal and when he sang hymns and songs of Praise to God his rich strong singing voice transported you to another more heavenly place.
Today is a sad day, but also one of celebration – we know with certainty, Ron is inside Heavens Gates and I am sure, once again Ron is singing with gusto praises to God.
Ron will be long remembered in Church Missionary Society circles and by many others who have come to know Christ for the first time and in a deeper way through his preaching and witness.