Dr. Kenneth Bickel (pictured) is professor of pastoral ministries and directs the Doctor of Ministries program at Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. Because of the significant impact on his life by the late Terry Taylor, FGBC World asked Ken to write this brief tribute. Bickel is also the immediate past president of the Association of Grace Brethren Ministers, of which Terry Taylor was a member.
My Tribute to Pastor Terry Taylor
God used Pastor Terry Taylor to play a pivotal role in my life. I (along with my wife and two children) began attending the Manheim, Pennsylvania, Grace Brethren Church in the fall of 1973 at the request of my daughter who had accepted Christ as her Savior at an SMM rally. I was 26 years old at the time, somewhat familiar with Christianity (having grown up attending a liberal Christian church) but was not a believer in Christ.
My family and I progressed to attending the church quite regularly and Terry visited our home on numerous occasions seeking to lead me to a saving commitment to Jesus. In the Lord’s timing, I was not quickly convinced of that need; however, we continued in faithful attendance.
Under Terry’s leadership, the Manheim church showed us great love and acceptance. That love and acceptance had a profound effect on me. In addition, each Sunday I sat under Terry’s teaching in an adult Sunday School class and received the gospel just about each time he preached on Sunday morning.
The Lord used those influences Sunday after Sunday to open my heart and enlighten my mind to the point where, about a year after we began attending, I was ready to receive Christ.
I spoke to Pastor Taylor one Sunday morning after the worship service, asking him to visit me at home, without explaining why I wanted him to. He did just that a few days later and I told him I was ready to receive Christ.
I think back with amusement now at his response. He was quite surprised and asked me if I was sure I was ready to do that. I assured him I was. He asked me if I wanted him to lead me in the sinner’s prayer and I could repeat phrases after him.
Somewhat proudly, I’m afraid, I told him I didn’t need that help and proceeded to confess my sin before God and accept Christ as my Savior. I remember vividly Pastor Taylor sitting to my left on our couch, weeping at my decision and prayer.
That decision continued a long and wonderful journey that began as a mildly interested (but bull-headed) unbeliever, proceeded through early nurturing by Pastor Taylor and his church, and ultimately led to training for ministry, in which I have now been engaged for some 28 years.
It’s been a fantastic journey thus far and has afforded a very meaningful existence-and it all began with a church led by Pastor Taylor and his faithful teaching of the Word Sunday after Sunday.
Of course, I give the credit to our Lord, but am, at the same time, so thankful for Terry’s life and ministry-for his willingness to be used of God to have an eternal impact on one man’s life and family.
I praise God for Terry and am blessed to know that he now stands in the presence of the Savior he served so faithfully for decades.
Kenneth E. Bickel, DMin
Professor of Pastoral Studies
Grace Theological Seminary
Douglas A. Courter