Lancaster, PA, March 22, 2021 –(PR.com)– The Rev. Dr. Dawson B. Taylor, Senior Pastor of Naples United Church of Christ, Naples, Fla., will deliver the commencement address to Lancaster Theological Seminary’s Class of 2021 on Saturday, May 8, at 11:00 a.m. at Church of the Apostles in Lancaster.
Naples United Church of Christ is one of the 10-largest UCC congregations in the United States. Rev. Taylor is the youngest senior pastor ever to serve the congregation, which attracts more than 1,000 worshippers on Sundays in the winter.
“Many people wonder what the mainline protestant church of the future looks like. One image of hope can be found every Sunday in the pulpit of Naples United Church of Christ,” said Dr. B. David Rowe, Interim President of Lancaster Theological Seminary. “This open and affirming congregation is thriving under Dawson’s progressive leadership. A joyful advocate for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Dawson preaches the Good News that love and justice are inseparable.”
Rev. Taylor’s journey to the pulpit began in the United Methodist Church, the denomination that his father served as an ordained minister. After earning a Master of Theological Studies from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Rev. Taylor left the UMC after coming out as a gay man. In 2006, he was ordained in the United Church of Christ and served as an associate pastor at the Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ in Dallas. In 2016, he was called to Naples United Church of Christ as senior pastor.
Rev. Taylor is a trustee of Chicago Theological Seminary, from which he received a Doctor of Ministry degree. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Centenary College of Louisiana, where he received the Bentley Sloane Alumni Award for his service to the church. Rev. Taylor is a participant in the Next Generation Leadership Initiative, a 10-year leadership development program for younger clergy in the United Church of Christ. Offered by the Pension Boards of the UCC, the program trains clergy to become transformational leaders for the church of the future.
On May 8, Lancaster Theological Seminary will award 29 graduate degrees: 19 Master of Divinity degrees, eight Doctor of Ministry degrees, one Master of Arts in Religion, and one Master of Arts in Ministry and Leadership. The Seminary also will award two Certificates in Anglican Studies. Because of the pandemic, the graduate school of theology’s 196th Commencement will be a socially distanced ceremony for the graduates and their guests held at Church of the Apostles, 1850 Marietta Ave., Lancaster, Penn.
Lancaster Theological Seminary, an ecumenical graduate school of theology affiliated with the United Church of Christ, is known for academic excellence, celebration of differences across Christian traditions, and creative engagement on issues important to our world.