CLEARWATER — Every Sunday night at Largo Wesleyan Church, the Rev. Margaret Taylor held churchgoers spellbound.
She had her own way of preaching the gospel, her long light hair pulled back, blue eyes blazing with conviction. From the pulpit, she liked to wear white. She would grab her souls from there, and bring them to Christ.
Sunday nights were special. The Rev. Taylor, as she was known for most of her ministry, would bring out a large easel with colored lights attached to the top, awaiting their cue to come on.
She drew biblical scenes with colored chalk. Jesus feeding 5,000 with loaves and fishes. Jesus on the cross, hurting. She spoke little, her hands flying as she drew, the organ playing softly.
"When she was drawing, you could have heard a pin drop," said Janet Lowe, her stepdaughter.
Then, when it was time, she would switch on a row of colored lights on top of the easel. Suddenly, the detail she had lavished on the drawings stood out. Not like 3-D, but close.
Lowe remembers a drawing of Jesus after leaving the tomb. His hands are badly marked, the crown of thorns still jammed on his head.
"She wanted to make an impression to the people of what he had suffered," said Lowe, 64. In the picture, Jesus is still wrapped in a burial shroud. He is ascending into the clouds to heaven.
The Rev. Raymond Taylor and his wife, the Rev. Margaret Taylor, founded the church in 1955. The couple also founded the Hillcrest Wesleyan Methodist Church in Clearwater in 1951 before moving on. Before that, they founded several other churches in Delaware and New Jersey and directed an orphanage.
Raymond Taylor died in 1956.
Many years later, the Rev. Margaret Taylor would marry Lowe's father, Floyd Miner, becoming the Rev. Margaret Taylor Miner.
For most of her ministry, she taught third- and first-graders full time while preaching three times a week and running a church. She enjoyed a decade in retirement before dementia set in, taking memory and freedom away.
She died Friday at the age of 102.
She would have hated spending the last part of her life immobile and dependent. In the nursing home, she spoke few words but moved restlessly, her daughter said. Grasping at the milk carton or the sugar packets on her food tray. Arching her body restlessly in bed, as if straining for something just out of reach.
Andrew Meacham can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 661-2431.