The committee sent communications to several ministers regarding their search. At the third meeting on Sept. 10, 1921, a letter was read from Dr. Bean of Hamilton Church, Los Angeles, California, which stated he would be present on Sept. 17, 1921, to conduct a financial campaign for the group in order that they might raise funds to provide transportation for a minister. The campaign was successful.
Alameda Mayor E.K. Taylor helped sponsor the building of the first Taylor Church, requesting that it be named for his father, the late and legendary Bishop William Taylor. Known for physical strength and prowess, as well as his abilities as a speaker, Bishop Taylor had been an evangelical missionary in South America and Africa until age 75, when he returned to southern California to be with his family.
By the time the church was officially chartered on Oct. 29, 1921, membership had grown to 56. The Rev. Albert Scott became the first pastor of the new church, then called Taylor Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church.
Unfortunately, in 1960, it was discovered that the recorded historical achievements of Taylor Memorial Church and the 22 pioneers and founders had been destroyed in a fire. It was therefore deemed expedient that someone be designated to create the History of the Church Founders and Ministers, a 22-page booklet that details the accomplishments of Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church from 1921 to 1988. Rev. Robert D. Hill, officers and members of the church, appointed founder S.J. Duncan and his Committee on History and Records (members Gladys M. Jordan and Essie Coleman) to compile the booklet. Additional information for the booklet was obtained from the first record book, church files and founder Willie Mae Meade. Much of the historical information on this site has been taken from that booklet.
One fun fact that was not in the booklet is Richard Nixon’s visit to Taylor Church. On Oct. 21, 1962, he campaigned here at the church when he was running for governor of California.
In summary, the founders of Taylor created a legacy ministry institution that has made significant contributions to the City of Oakland and worldwide — through the dedication, preservation and unique contributions for more than 90 years. These historic contributions are woven into the covenant of the church and into American history in the City of Oakland.
Communications were sent to several ministers in this regard. At the third meeting on September 10, 1921, a letter was read from Dr. Samuel Bean of Hamilton Church in Los Angeles, California, stating that he would be present on September 17,1921 to conduct a financial campaign for the group in order that they might raise funds to provide transportation for a minister. The financial campaign was successful.
During this period, Mayor Taylor of Alameda, California, gave generously to help erect the first building for Taylor Church. At his request, the name Taylor was selected in memory of his father, the late Bishop William Taylor.
On October 29, 1921, the fourth meeting was held. District Superintendent Milnes presided. He congratulated the group and stated that they had now grown to a membership of 56 and wished to know if they wanted to choose a full-time minister. The vote was affirmative.
Reverend Albert Scott became the first minister to serve as pastor. He served from 1921 – 1924. Under Reverend Scott’s administration people of all races were attracted to Taylor as visitors. Reverend Scott was a well-educated and qualified minister. He was followed by Reverend John Wesley Thomas and Reverend George Carter. The church thrived and grew slowly but steadily under the dedicated, efficient and able leadership of these ministers. Their expertise and leadership abilities, along with the support of our twenty-two loyal founders and the small but devoted membership of 35 persons, laid a firm foundation for those pastors and members who were to follow.
The following is a message from Rev. Ron Swisher on the 88th anniversary of Taylor Memorial Methodist Church:
This year of 2009 marks, as we all know, our 88th anniversary here at Taylor Memorial. This year our country began extremely hopeful. Many of us were fortunate to witness the election of the first African-American president of our nation, Barack Obama. Who would have said that would happen a year earlier or even the last few months of the campaign? And when he was elected many of us were a little impatient because it seemed as if we would have to say for a very long time, “the president elect” before it became a reality.
Though this year began with high hopes this has been a challenging year for all of us, especially for the president. As I write this we know the president has just been announced the recipient this year of the Nobel Peace Prize. And though people might debate about whether he has earned this so early in his tenure, I did appreciate some of the rationale about the positive direction and potential that he has brought to the world. The importance of why he received this prestigious award was because of the promise that hope and peace will prevail in our world someday because of his leadership. In other words, the direction and not the actual accomplishment of his presidency is the reason this great award was given.
I share these initial thoughts because we live and have lived in a world of great change and challenge. Our society has impacted the church, and it is always our hope that our witness and faith and love and courage have impacted the world in a positive way. Over these 88 years of Taylor’s existence, we have tried to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world in our ministry and mission. We are so grateful to all the stalwart soldiers here at Taylor who will again help our church celebrate a wonderful anniversary. You love your church and above all you love our Lord Jesus Christ. Many of you understand what faith means and without it how do we please God. You have gone the extra mile in the giving of your time, talent and tithes. We, along with our country, state and city, face great economic challenges. Even amidst these economic challenges, many of you have learned to live and demonstrate so powerfully in your life commitment, consistency and constancy in your walk and faith in God. Amen and God’s blessings upon you.
So friends and constituents let’s dine with our Lord in our festive and fun time for our anniversary this month. We will dress up for our roaring ‘20s banquet, and we have this wonderful souvenir booklet you have made possible. And of course all of you have paid your $88 or more representing the years of service and sharing we have done here in Oakland on 12th and Adeline Streets. For GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME!
Yours in service of our Savior and Spirit of our Jesus!
The following was adapted from a piece written about Pastor Andrea Davidson just before she left Taylor for the next chapter in her service to God:
Reverend Andrea Davidson was appointed Taylor Church’s 11th pastor on July 1, 2010. Known for her down-to-earth style, engaging delivery, musical gifts and powerful prayers, she was a pastor with a passion for spiritual development, a strong advocate for social justice and an ecumenical leader in the city of Oakland.
Rev. Davidson holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland at College Park and a Master’s of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. During her tenure as Taylor Church pastor, she was admitted into the doctoral program at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley, California, and began coursework toward a Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies (Theology and African-American Studies). She received the Fund for Theological Education 2010-11 and 2011-12 Doctoral Fellowship as well as the GTU’s President’s Award.
Prior to coming to Taylor Memorial, Rev. Davidson served as campus pastor and worship director at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, as associate pastor for Epworth United Methodist Church in Berkeley, and as assistant pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, New York, with a congregation of over 3,000 members. She served in both public and private sectors as a technology and business process consultant working with telecommunications companies for over 10 years. She had also worked for not-for-profits in Washington, D.C., raising funds for community-based organizations, offering relief to survivors of Hurricane Katrina, helping provide job training and placement, and youth programming for underserved populations.
While at Taylor Church, Rev. Davidson worked to stabilize the church’s finances; rebuild the music ministry; expand education, outreach and missions ministries; complete pew renovations in the sanctuary; and to revitalize ministries to children and youth. She has also worked to re-engage the church with the broader community through community organizing, focused projects centered on violence reduction, facilitated conversations with criminal justice officials and the Bay Area community, engagement of local churches in annual ecumenical East Bay Lenten Caravan services, Worship Without Walls outdoor services, the development of a circuit food program, which provides weekly groceries and hot meals, and hosting community-wide events throughout the year.
Rev. Davidson has served as assistant treasurer for the Oakland Community Organizations (OCO) Board of Directors. She also helped lead OCO and PICO California’s Live Free Campaign, which has focused on violence reduction, ending mass incarceration, economic development and jobs for the hard-to-employ.
Here is a list of the boards and committees Rev. Davidson served on during her time in Oakland:
- Fred Finch Youth Center Board of Directors
- Advisory Committee of State Assembly member Rob Bonta’s Boys and Men of Color (BMOC)
- Vice Chairperson for Black Methodists for Church Renewal’s Western Jurisdiction
- Worship Task Force Chairperson for the California-Nevada Annual Conference Commission of the UMC
- Bridges District Superintendency Committee
- Bay Area’s Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance
And an example of her legacy here at Taylor Church:
- Church Without Walls
- Lenten Season Study Series
- Church-wide Bible Study
- Dynamic Religious Subjects Study Series
- Tea With the Pastor
- Congregational Praise Songs
- Dramatic Spiritual Readings
- Candlelight Memorials
- Inspirational Sermon Messages
After her tenure at Taylor, Pastor Andrea and her family relocated to Chicago, where she took a position as pastor of Hartzell United Methodist Church.
Rev. Davidson is married to Rev. Dr. Steed Davidson, Associate Professor of Old Testament at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California. They are the proud parents of twin boys, Wesley and Myles. In addition to the ministry, Rev. Davidson enjoys reading, singing, travel, jazz and gardening.
Pastor Roll Call
Bishop William Taylor
John Wesley Thomas
Dr. Charles L. Warren
Bishop William Taylor (May 2, 1821 – May 18, 1902)
Mayor E.K. Taylor of Alameda, California, gave generously of his finances in helping to erect the building for Taylor Church. At his request, the name Taylor was chosen in memory of his father, the late Bishop William Taylor, born in Rockford County, Virginia.
In his 10th year, William Taylor had a profound religious experience which was renewed in 1841, at which time he entered into the Methodist ministry and was admitted on trial to the Baltimore Conference on March 15, 1843. He became an ordained deacon in 1846 and an elder in 1847. Because of his physical frame and vitality that were equal to every demand, he traveled and toiled as no other man of his denomination, becoming a missionary evangelist to all people in many lands. He was six feet tall, weighed 207 pounds, and stated that he lifted at one raise 760 lbs. when he was 59 years of age. In addition to bodily strength, he had a voice of unusual melody, range and power and a commanding personality. His evangelist work began in the market house of Georgetown, D.C. In 1848, he was appointed to California under the Missionary Society of his church and arrived in San Francisco via Cape Horn in September 1849. It was still a city in tents. To the “Forty-Niners” he preached for seven years standing on a pork or whiskey barrel in the plaza. He could be heard by 20,000 people at a time. His work of saving souls carried him into brothels and saloons. He built his own home and his own chapel. He traveled all over the world spreading the doctrine of the Wesleyan Methodist Churches. He derived support for himself and his family from the books he published. From Australia in 1863 he sent seeds of the eucalyptus tree to a California horticulturist and from these seeds came the eucalyptus trees on the Pacific Coast. He developed the “Pauline System” of support for missionaries where they were to take contributions that proved insufficient and labor, like Paul, with their own hands. He organized systems of self-supporting schools throughout the world. In 1884, he retired from the “itinerant ministry” in order to work independently of ecclesiastical oversight. He attended the General Conference in Philadelphia as a lay delegate from South America and was elected Missionary Bishop for Africa at age 63, serving in this post for 12 years. He sent many missionaries to this continent. His work in Africa proved unusually difficult for his self-supporting missionaries and his great strength began to break under the burdens he carried. In 1896, at age 75, he was relieved of his responsibilities by the General Conference. He returned to southern California to be reunited with his wife Isabelle Ann Kimberlin, whom he had married on Oct. 21, 1846, and with his three sons. He died on May 18, 1902.
Many writers have called Bishop Taylor the most outstanding man in his denomination. They compare his imagination to that of Cecil Rhodes and further state that his energies matched his imagination. He had a firm belief that God had taken him into a peculiar partnership and filled him with the intrepidity and assurance of an apostle. (The last paragraph was taken from an article written by J.M. Buckley in Christian Advocate, June 12, 1902.) Among his books were Seven Years’ Street Preaching in San Francisco (1857), California Life Illustrated (1858), and Model Preacher (1859).
He was buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California, Lot 44, Plot 33. His grave is considered a historic site.
Information originally taken from the Dictionary of American Biography, 18 Steward Trowbridge, “R” 920 Dictionary Scribners, pp. 345-346, Richmond Public Library.
Rev. George Carter (1924 – 1926)
The Reverend Dr. George W Carter Junior was born to the union of the former Grace Butler and the Reverend George W Carter Sr. in New Orleans, Louisiana. He attended the public schools in New Orleans and graduated from New Orleans University. He earned degrees from both Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta Georgia and Boston University in Boston Massachusetts.
He became the second pastor of Taylor Church on or about the latter part of 1924 and served until 1926. As the case of his predecessors, he too was active in all phases of the Methodist Church. The work he accomplished as minister, and his involvement in the community made an impact upon those with whom he came in contact.
In 1930, he became a member of the Louisiana Conference and served as superintendent of the Peoples Community Center and the New Orleans District. Four years prior to his death, he served as the pastor of First Street Methodist Church in New Orleans Louisiana. He died on July 13, 1965. He and his wife, the former Ruth Grisette have a daughter, Carol Manasses McGowan; who presently resides in Houston, Texas.
Information concerning Reverend Carter was obtained from his niece, Mrs. Mildred Reese of New Orleans Louisiana and his daughter, Mrs. Carol M. McGowan of Houston, Texas
Rev. John Wesley Thomas (1926 – 1928)
Born in Orangeburg, S.C., on Feb. 14, 1892 to a family of ministers. He was one of three sons born to the Rev. J.S. Thomas and the former Dessie Veronica Mark. All three sons served as Methodist ministers. His brothers were the Rev. George A. Thomas of Spartanburg, S.C., and Bishop James S. Thomas, resident bishop of the Ohio East Area, United Methodist Church, North Canton, Ohio. This strong ministerial lineage was continued by his grandson, the Rev. Thomas McAlister Scott, who was also involved in education at Knox College, Galesburg, Ill.
According to the records found in the files of the Rev. John W. Thomas, Sr., by his son, Dr. John W. Thomas, Jr., he became the second pastor of Taylor Memorial Church around 1926 and served until 1928. In addition, one of his daughters was born in Oakland on Oct. 25, 1927.
Rev. Thomas was considered by most of his parishioners at Taylor and elsewhere as a church builder as well as a pastor and minister. This is substantiated by a document taken from his files by his son, Dr. Thomas, when he was the pastor of Taylor Church. He was appealing to the public for funds to pay off the indebtedness of the Taylor Church building, the parsonage debt, a day school for young people and a community center. Early in his career, he declined positions to serve at a higher level in the Methodist Church hierarchy in order to continue what he felt was his most meaningful work of pastor and church builder. Later in his career, he served as district superintendent from 1949 until 1956, in the Georgia area.
He was married to the former Harriett Whitmore. They had four children: Portia, Ruth, John Wesley, Jr., and Gwendolyn. His last assignment was as pastor of the Fourth Street Methodist Church in Atlanta, Ga., from 1956 to his passing on Dec. 12, 1958.
This information was originally obtained from the Rev. Thomas’ files by his son, Dr. John W. Thomas, Jr., of Yeadon, Penn., and his brother, Bishop James S. Thomas of North Canton, Ohio (Feb. – May 1988).
Rev. H.T.S. Johnson (1928 – 1940)
Born in Louisiana on Sept. 13, 1871 to Dennis Johnson and the former Louisa Hawley. In spite of the fact that they were slaves on a plantation, his father was a highly skilled “artisan” Baptist deacon and person in charge of all the machinery on the plantation. His mother was a midwife. The two had positions of responsibility on the plantation. The future Rev. Johnson was given a well-rounded education by the parents and teachers of the small town. He later attended college and earned his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Divinity degrees.
Johnson became the fourth pastor of Taylor Church in 1928. Before coming to Taylor, he had served as a minister and administrator in the Methodist Church in several states. He was dedicated to his faith, committed to his parishioners, involved in religious and civic affairs and very farsighted. He was a man of vision and projected this by his involvement in community affairs.
He led the local fight to provide jobs to blacks and other minorities, such as bus driver, toll collector, custodian, streetcar operators, street workers and educators. He made an impact in this area long before the protests of the 1960s civil rights movement. Taylor’s membership grew from a small number to over 150 by 1940.
He was years ahead of his time. As Pastor Emeritus in 1954, he said, “I spent twelve of the best years of my life at Taylor. It is a part of me, and to see it come to this time of dedication fulfills a prophecy I made that Taylor was destined to become one of the great churches of Methodism.”
Rev. Johnson was married to the former Annie Hayes for over 50 years. They had five children: Dan Hayes, Louise, Thelma, Henry T.S., Jr., and Gwendolyn.
After his retirement from the ministry in 1940, he resided with his wife and family in Berkeley, California, until his death on Sept. 5, 1962.
The biographical information was obtained from his daughter, Mrs. Thelma Johnson Harris, of Oakland, Ca. (Feb. – March 1988).
Dr. Charles L. Warren (1940 – 1958)
Born in Victoria, Texas on Aug. 1, 1912, to the Rev. John Wesley Warren, Sr., and Helen Coffee Warren. He graduated from high school in 1929, received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1933 from Houston-Tillotson College (formerly Sam Houston College) in Austin, Texas. He received his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Gammon Theological Seminary, Atlanta, Georgia, in 1936. In 1937, he received an Master of Sacred Theology degree from Boston University School of Theology. He received Doctorates of Divinity from Houston-Tillotson and Gammon Theological Seminary.
From 1940 to 1958, Dr. Warren served as the fifth minister of Taylor Memorial Methodist Church. While in Oakland, he was also vice president of the Council of Churches and chairman of the Department of Human Relations. He was active in Methodist denominational and civic affairs and was elected delegate to numerous general and jurisdictional conferences.
Under his dynamic and inspirational leadership, Taylor’s sanctuary was completely rebuilt, paid for and dedicated. On Nov. 28, 1954, the mortgage was burned to celebrate the achievement. They added an educational building later. From 1940 to 1954, membership grew from 150 to 1,954. In June 1976, the educational building was named the Charles L. Warren Educational Building. Also under Dr. Warren’s ministry, the Race Relations Sunday Service was extended to involve many denominations and was observed each year in the Oakland Auditorium Theatre. Each year, attendance was over 1,900.
In 1958, he transferred from the California-Nevada Conference to the New York Conference of the Methodist Church, where he became minister of St. Mark’s Methodist Church in Harlem, the largest Methodist church in the Northeastern Jurisdiction, an 11-state area.
In 1964, he became district superintendent of the Metropolitan District, New York Conference. Later, he became executive director of the Council of Churches of Greater Washington, headquartered in Washington, D.C. He held this position until his death in October 1971.
He and his wife, the former Alice Jones, had three children: Charles Lacy, Jr., Oscar Wesley and Madelynn Louise.
Dr. Robert D. Hill (1958 – 1966, 1972 – 1987)
Born in Texas to Walter and Fannie Daugty Hill. He received his education at Samuel Houston College, Boston University School of Theology, University of Southern California, and finally the University of the Pacific, where he received his Doctorate of Divinity.
His pastorate included St. Andrew’s Methodist Church in Worchester, Massachusetts, Scott Methodist Church in Pasadena, California, and Mt. Zion Methodist Church in New Orleans, Louisiana. While at Scott Methodist, Hill led the organization to build the first member-owned parsonage. During his tenure at Mt. Zion, he completed the building of a church in the English Gothic style, and burned the mortgage the last Sunday he served as its minister. He was an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and the “Boule.”
In 1958, he became pastor of Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church. Under his leadership, the membership grew to 1,403. The membership expressed a desire to further expand their facilities, and called upon Rev. Hill to use his expertise to help them attain their goal. He then initiated an expansion and development program to carry Taylor Church into the future — a mammoth project. The membership pledged and raised $75,000 for expansion.
In 1966, Dr. Hill was appointed district superintendent of the Golden Gate District, where he served until 1972, after which he returned to Taylor to serve as minister for a second time.
During his second term, he expanded the financial drives and acquisition of land, along with the preliminary plans drawn up for the new multipurpose facility under the administration of the Rev. Dr. Thomas P. Grissom, Jr., who served between Hill’s two terms.
Over a three-year period, members pledged $150,000. However, they exceeded that by raising $200,000, and were then able to receive Housing and Urban Development loans and loans from the Development Fund, for construction and remodeling. The Taylor complex was completed August 1976, and spanned the entire 12th Street block from Magnolia to Adeline Street. Costs ranged from $650,000 to $750,000.
This “Magnificent Facility” was consecrated to the glory of God that same month, and became available for use by the community, friends and members. The church facilities have been used consistently by community groups for conferences, weddings, receptions, banquets and civic activities.
Dr. Hill served as a member of the Oakland Manpower Advisory Board and chairman of the Facilities Use Committee of the Oakland Board of Education. He retired from Taylor Church and the ministry on June 30, 1987. He and his wife, the former Christine Smith, had four children: Wanda, Rose Mary, Stanley and Janet.
Rev. Thomas P. Grissom, Jr. (1966 – 1972)
Born in the Bronx, New York, to the Rev. Thomas P. Grissom, Sr., and Caudie Anderson Grissom. He was educated at Clark College and Gammon Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia. He studied further at Atlanta University, Columbia University in New York, Paine College in Augusta, Georgia, and the San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, California.
He has pastored churches in Augusta, Columbus, LaGrange, and Covington, Georgia; New York City and Brooklyn, New York; and Oakland, California.
Rev. Grissom came to Taylor Church in 1966 and served as pastor for six years. Under the administration of the charismatic and innovative Rev. Grissom, the church continued efforts toward the expansion and building program of Taylor Church, initiated by Dr. Robert D. Hill. Land was acquired through the efforts of the late city manager, John Williams, and financial drives were intensified and continued with much success. Taylor Church also became the proud owners of a public housing unit and preliminary plans were drawn up for the new multipurpose facility. Rev. Grissom was involved in religious and community affairs in the East Bay and surrounding communities, and was highly respected by city officials and religious groups alike.
In 1972, Rev. Grissom was appointed to the office of district superintendent of the San Jose District. He served in this capacity for six years and also served as senior minister of First Methodist Church in Sacramento, California. He also served as senior minister of Salem United Methodist Church, New York, New York.
He and his wife, the former Gwendolyn Ball, a talented musician and public school teacher, had a son named Terry.
Rev. Warren Harrison Brown, Jr. (1987 – June 30, 1998)
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, on Nov. 26, 1946 to Warren Harrison Brown, Sr., and the former Ida M. Holmes. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology with specialization in criminology from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1969. In 1974, he received a Masters of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C. In 1973, he was ordained deacon by Bishop James Matthews in the Baltimore Conference and transferred to the Western Pennsylvania Conference. In 1975, he became an ordained elder under Bishop Roy Nichols, Western Pennsylvania Conference. From 1969 to 1972, he was assistant pastor of Petworth United Methodist Church, Washington, D.C. From 1973 to 1975, he served as pastor of Church of Our Savior, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and director of Bethany Housing Ministries, an outreach ministry to two public housing projects. From March 1, 1975 to June 1979, he was the pastor of Warren United Methodist Church in Pittsburgh.
In 1979, he transferred to the California-Nevada Conference, where he became the associate director of the Conference Council on Ministries, until June 1980. From July 1980 to June 1983, he served as the director. From July 1983 to June 1987, he served as superintendent of the Golden Gate District, California-Nevada Conference.
On July 1, 1987, he became the ninth pastor of Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church. As minister of Taylor, he has initiated many new and innovative programs under the church slogan, “Catch the spirit.” All members were enthusiastically involved in implementing these programs.
Rev. Brown and his wife, the former Minnie Jones, had three children: Catina Marie Harvin, Warner H. Brown, III, and Calvin C. Brown.
Pastor Anthony Lawrence Jenkins, Sr. (2015 – Present)
Pastor Anthony is an extremely active member of our city and community. As he has been doing for the past 20 years, he continues to bless the Taylor Memorial UMC congregation, and the congregations of our great nation, with his anointed gift of preaching, unconditional love for all, and an undiluted devotion to God’s work. Click here for more information about Taylor Memorial Church’s current pastor.