When Joe Taylor took the post as pastor at Barber Baptist Church a little over five years ago, he was most impressed with the congregation’s hunger for the word, their love for one another, their outreach and their respect for the office of pastor.
“Our church members are the kindest most gracious people I have had the privilege of pastoring. They are always ready to serve each other and the community. Like Sunday night, serving the children and youth at the AWANA cookout,” he said. “They give their time and resources to encourage and strengthen the youth who live in our area.”
A graduate of Cave Springs High School in Bunch, and from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, Taylor earned a Master of Divinity degree from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Cordova, Tenn.
His calling came while he was a newlywed.
“When my wife and I were first married, the church in Watts asked me to come and preach for them, and after some time, they voted to call me as their pastor. After praying about it, I came to the realization that the Lord had called me to pastor and not just to preach,” said Taylor.
He was called in April 1997 during a revival at the First Baptist Church in Stilwell.
Mentors for Taylor include three men who played a significant role in his life.
“[One was] my father, Dr. Jimmie Taylor, who always said, ‘As long as you do what the Lord wants you to do, then I will be happy,’” said Taylor.
The second man was his pastor, Roger Haney, of First Baptist Church, Stilwell.
“He taught me to follow the Lord’s calling and to never give up,” said Taylor.
The third man was Sonny Simpson.
“He was preaching the night God called me into the ministry. Brother Sonny is one of the greatest sources of encouragement, and I have often tried to follow his style of preaching,” Taylor said.
As pastor at Barber, Taylor said he enjoys the relationships the Lord has given him the opportunity to build.
Family is one of his favorite sermon topics, and he keeps Hebrews 13:5-8 as a favorite passage.
Music is a balanced part of the services. The church has a band and small choir consisting of three pianos, two guitars, drums and eight to 10 choir members. Church volunteers maintain a food pantry and clothes closet twice monthly. They have two summer church camps planned and a mission trip to New York City the second week in August. They just finished a semester of AWANA.
“We support missions through the cooperative program of the Southern Baptists and we have a church plant we are supporting in New York City. We also do local missions projects from time to time and we help needy people within our community with food, clothes, and sometimes financially,” Taylor said.
Taylor has been married to his wife, Rebecca, for 16 years. They have six children: Emily, 15; Audrey, 13; Abigail, 11; Jeremiah, 9; Joshua, 6; and Esther, 1.
“I couldn’t do it without [my wife],” said Taylor. “She is my No. 1 supporter, my secretary at home, and she teaches two classes, Sunday school and AWANA. She also coordinates meals for sick people, baby showers, wedding showers, church meals, and helps with just about every other detail, except I don’t ask her to write my sermons.”
Taylor tries to relate some part of every message to situations youth might find themselves in, and then encourages them to make the right decision.
“Youth today have great opportunities to do right, and at the same time unbelievable pressure to go the wrong way,” said Taylor. “But probably the most dangerous issue of today for our youth is a lack of moral compass. So many people they admire or idolize have very little morality in their lives. Those whom they follow make decisions based on what feels good or what is right in their own eyes, and they have very little knowledge of what God expects of them.”
Parents also need encouragement.
“Take your children to church, spend time with them every day doing something that will last – TV doesn’t count! – and live a life before them that will build good character traits in them such as kindness, love, forgiveness, truthfulness, and faithfulness,” he said.
Barber Baptist Church meets Sundays at 10 a.m. for Sunday school, 11 a.m. for worship, and 6 for evening services. Bible study and prayer meetings are Wednesdays at 7 p.m. The church is at 28684 E. 862 Road in Welling. The phone number is 918-316-2145.