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Beacons of Hope: Our Interreligious S/Heroes Beacons of Hope: Our Interreligious S/Heroes — Rev. Nancy S. Taylor

By Rabbi Or Rose

Every month, we honor an individual (or group) who inspires the bridge-building efforts of the Miller Center. Each honoree uniquely embodies the values of inclusivity, justice, and compassion. Reverend Nancy S. Taylor, a Boston-based pioneering religious leader, is our Beacon of Hope for the month of April.

I first met Rev. Nancy Taylor a decade ago through her leadership in the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO). Then, as now, she demonstrated the hallmarks of gifted bridge-builder: insight, courage, compassion, and determination.

Rev. Taylor is a pioneering religious leader, who became the first female Senior Minister and CEO of Old South Church in 2005. During her 17-year tenure at the church she worked tirelessly to cultivate a vibrant inclusive and caring church community in the heart of Boston.

Nancy’s ministry also led her to become a leader in the interreligious community of Greater Boston, playing a key role in bringing together people from different walks of life to work for the common good. During her first year at Old South Church, she initiated the “Blessing of the Athletes” ceremony, which welcomes runners from all backgrounds to receive a blessing the day before the Boston Marathon each year.

In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, Nancy worked closely with Muslim, Jewish and Christian colleagues to create allyship and healing at a time when some were sowing seeds of discontent resulting in a rise in Islamophobia. She has also been outspoken in addressing resurgent anti-Semitism in our city and beyond in recent years.

As part of her commitment to interreligious engagement, Rev. Taylor has been an active member of the Miller Center Advisory Committee since 2016. We have benefitted greatly from her wise heart, her strategic vision, and her steadfast commitment to cultivating the next generation of interreligious leaders. Reflecting on the work of the Miller Center she recently commented “In a world in which religion is prevalent, potent, and corruptible it is imperative to touch every single young mind we can. The Miller Center trains up leaders with hearts for God, who learn to wield religion for good; leaders who, in the words of Rabbi Jesus, are ‘wise as serpents yet gentle as doves.'”

Nancy has enhanced religious and civic life in Boston in immeasurable ways; I am honored to call her my mentor, colleague, and friend.

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