By Melissa Spellman
Fall Intern 2023
New Journal and Guide
Since 2020 Richard Taylor has pledged his life to building his community, with mentoring the youth, advocating for families affected by gun violence, and even publicly exposing corruption amongst local government and law enforcement.
He beat the odds, surviving the streets; overcame life threatening medical crises; and triumphed over a self-destructive lifestyle. Today, as a servant leader, published author, counselor, mentor, and ordained minister, Taylor is a force to be reckoned with in his hometown of Goldsboro, N.C.
Richard Taylor grew up as a preacher’s kid. He was born to Pastors Rodger and Arletta Taylor, attending Tabernacle of Prayer for All People. Taylor’s father would go on to establish Philadelphia Community Church where he is still Pastor. Raised in a family devoted to the ministry, he spent his early years in the routines of church life. Taylor points out that his parents, who have just celebrated 50 years of marriage, provided him and his siblings with a wonderful childhood environment. Taylor recalls that he was gifted academically and gifted in sports. However, during his adolescence years, his attention shifted from the church to the streets. “Around 12 or 13 is when I became drawn to peer pressure, musical pressure with movies that promoted the gangster lifestyle,” Taylor shared.
Taylor’s book Brushes with Death: The Blood of Jesus chronicles his life starting around 14-years-old to about age 30. The book is a candid look at his journey from North Carolina to Virginia through street life, addiction, and incarceration. In sharing his life experiences, Taylor aims to show the youth that they don’t have to go the hard way. He seeks to give incarcerated persons hope and demonstrate that there is meaningful work you can do beyond the confines of a cell. He serves as a living testimony to those in recovery and others that they have purpose on this earth and God has a plan for their lives.
Surviving a stroke, two brain aneurysms, and being shot on two different occasions at close range, Richard Taylor says he is living proof of God’s goodness and mercy. He is a father, a four-time published author, owner of Taylor House Publishing company, a radio show host, mental health specialist, and community activist. “Anything I can do to use my experiences to help someone then that is what I do. That is what drives me. That is the reason my plate is so full,” said Taylor.
Taylor’s work involves several community initiatives. One initiative is an after-school program held every Monday in one of the most underserved housing areas in Goldsboro called The Grant at Day Point also referred to as “The Jungle.” The name is a testament to the danger and adverse conditions of the neighborhood. Another initiative centers around mentoring young boys who are withstanding the effects of low-income families and single parent homes. On second, fourth, and fifth Sundays, Taylor takes his mentees to church service after which they go out to eat, to the park, swimming, or to the skating rink. “I try to do activities with them to instill mentorship. I try to learn what they are going through and meet them where they are,” said Taylor.
His work does not stop there, as an ordained minister, on the first and third Sundays he travels to Carteret Correctional Center in Newport, North Carolina where he speaks to incarcerated persons. His prison ministry includes visits to other correctional facilities and participating in celebratory moments such as substance abuse graduation ceremonies.
Taylor discussed his passion for this important work, “I like the prison ministry because I can relate to those guys. I was facing the rest of my life in prison for something I did not do. I meet a lot of guys who are serving life sentences and double life sentences, and they are just looking for the slightest bit of hope and encouragement, so I like to work with those brothers.”
Understanding the devastating impact incarceration has on families, Taylor reaches out to those on the other side of the spectrum which are 12- and 13-year-old children whose fathers are incarcerated or in the street. He creates a dialogue with the young children to deconstruct the illusion that prison is an easy or fun place.
Taylor also serves as a peer supporter and mental health counselor where he helps individuals suffering from homelessness, drug abuse, financial, employment, and mental health issues. He hosted a radio show called The U-Turn which ran for two successful years. The radio show focused on individuals, like Taylor, who traveled the wrong path and turned their lives around. One of his most notable interviews was with George Floyd’s Uncle Selwyn Jones and Councilwoman Elizabeth Darden of Harrison, Arkansas where they discussed their organization Hope929 and the continued work toward social justice.
Taylor has a growing YouTube platform – Taylor House Publishing – which is gaining traction through his candid conversations with citizens, politicians, candidates running for office, and his coverage on the happenings in Goldsboro and surrounding areas.
“I try to stay busy. I spent a lot of time in the streets putting a lot of energy into negative things. Since I have left recovery in 2020, I went full-fledged into doing everything positive. It’s also a part of my recovery, I stay busy to guard against falling into old habits and old ways,” shared Taylor.
Taylor says he lives his life by being that change that he wants to see in the world. “If you see something that is wrong, you change it,” said Taylor. “There is always good in people. I just don’t want people to ever give up hope on humanity.”
Follow Taylor House Publishing on YouTube and Facebook. To contact Richard Taylor email email@example.com.