Major Jim Taylor, 60, whose life has revolved around the Salvation Army for half his time on earth, proved hard to find Monday afternoon.
“I was playing the trombone,” he said by phone. “I haven’t played in a long time, and I was a little rusty. Sorry for the delay.”
No apologies necessary from Taylor, who joins wife April to become the new Corps Officers for Salvation Army Waco. They arrived in Waco last week, and were treated to an introduction to the community on Sunday.
Salvation Army officers are periodically transferred to different locations, typically every three to four years. The Taylors most recently served in Kentucky, where they were responsible for the programs and services of the Kentucky and Tennessee region of the Salvation Army, according to a release.
“April and I served at the divisional headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky, which means we were heavily involved in administration,” he said. “What we will be doing here is a better fit for our gifts and our style. We will have more interaction with people. Just today, for example, we had the opportunity to visit the community kitchen, where we served food and talked with people.”
Jim Taylor is the son of a widowed single mother, who as a school guidance counselor, saw each of her five children through high school and college, according to a biography provided by the Salvation Army. Major April Taylor, meanwhile, is one of five children, and her father was a Methodist minister who was transferred periodically, including to the church where she and Jim Taylor met. She received a degree in psychology from the University of Maryland “despite having two children at home,” according to the release.
Jim Taylor first felt led to run a sports camp, and was doing just that in 1982, when he was working for the Maryland Eastern Shore Salvation Army.
Four years later, the Taylors enrolled in The Salvation Army School for Officer Training in Atlanta, Georgia, where, after two years of training, they were commissioned to their first assignment, in southeast Atlanta.
They have carried out assignments in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee, and served for a time at the divisional headquarters in Dallas. Three of their four children are employed by the Salvation Army in Virginia and Maryland. A son works in the private sector in Wylie.
Jim Taylor said he will spend time learning about the Waco community and its needs, the size of the homeless community, and the service agencies available.
“We want to be part of the solution,” he said. “We trust God has a purpose for the Salvation Army in Waco, and we’ll seek to discover what that is. We also hope to meet with city leaders to find out their vision for the community.”
He said the mission of the Salvation Army has not changed, that being “to preach Jesus Christ and wins souls for his kingdom.”
But the means to that end have evolved, he said.
“The Salvation Army is doing things on the Internet. We have a Facebook page, E-newsletters and pop-up banners. We’re nimble enough to change with the needs of the community, with this culture, if you will, but we want to stay true to our purpose: preaching, winning souls and raising disciples.”
He will oversee a local staff of about 45 people, and ministries that include the Red Shield Men’s Lodge, community kitchen, Sally’s House shelter for women and families with children, the Family Thrift Store, William & Catherine Booth Apartments for low-income seniors and the disabled, the Social Services Case Management teams, Fresh Start inmate reintegration program, and an array of programs for youngsters, according to a news release.
They also will serve as the lead ministry for the Salvation Army Corps Church and Community Center, with weekly worship and praise-based activities.
“Many people don’t realize that the Salvation Army is a church,” said April Taylor in a prepared statement. “We invited everyone to join us for an uplifting and musical worship each Sunday at 11 a.m. at The Salvation Army Corps Church located at 1225 S. Jack Kultgen Expressway, here in Waco.”