The Rev. Walter Taylor says there is significant work to be done in Columbus.
“It is time for the citizens of our community to come together and create change for the betterment of the city,” Taylor said.
The founder and senior pastor at The Life Church of Columbus called a recent poll which ranked Columbus the 50th worst city in the nation to live due to poverty and crime an “insult” to the community.
“The history and grand accomplishments of our community are being overlooked for reasons that shouldn’t be,” Taylor said.
According to Taylor, there is a major problem which is only going to get worse if action is not taken.
“At this point, we can no longer keep silent and stay divided. Together, we can conquer the divide of social and economic injustice,” he said.
Working toward that goal is a group of about a dozen pastors and small business owners in the area who have been meeting together for around six months. It is called the Tri-City Unity Conference.
“We are looking for ways to make things better,” he said.
On August 11 and 12, the Tri-City Unity Conference will be presenting a two-day event called Empowered 2 Conquer in which problems will be discussed and solutions offered.
Taylor and wife Danielle are serving as host pastors along with the Rev. Frederick Acklin and wife Sabrina of Divine Restoration Ministries in Columbus.
The first night, free to the public, will be at My Father’s House International Outreach Ministries, 3604 Macon Road. Class sessions will be at 6 p.m. with a general service at 7:30 p.m.
The guest speaker will be Bishop Noel Jones from California. Jones is well known for his work on the Oxygen network’s “Preachers of L.A.” as well as appearances on the Trinity Broadcast Network.
The Saturday event will be at the St. Luke Ministry Center, 301 11th Street in Columbus.
The cost for the event, featuring a brunch, is $45. It will be from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. with renowned author and television evangelist Pastror Paula White as the featured speaker.
“It is special to get people such as Noel Jones and Paula White to come here. People will not want to miss the opportunity to hear them speak,” Taylor said.
He said the event will be a time for local people to come together and talk about social injustice, and to break down barriers of denomination and racism to come together as a community. He is encouraging people to come and speak out.
“We want to bring unity to a community that is divided,” Taylor said “We need people to come so we can hear their voice.”
People interested in attending either day should call 706-750-0422 for information or stop by The Life of Church at 2001South Lumpkin Road.
Much of the conversation will focus on helping youth.
On August 12, from noon until 4 p.m., there will a Youth Empowerment program at The Church of Life with music and games. There will also be free school supplies and haircuts. Leading this special ministry will be the Rev. Lonnie Boyd Jr. and Jakiera Fiveash. “We will foster an environment where they can be empowered,” Taylor said.
What upsets Taylor the most in the area is the high number of violent crimes.
“You look at crime locally and a lot of it is juveniles,” Taylor said.
The pastor gives some blame to a dropout rate he describes as “alarming.”
Poverty plays a big role with too many children being left alone.
“Some parents are working two minimum wage jobs just trying to survive,” Taylor said. “When the children are not being supervised, they look for things to do and that often leads to crime.”
He believes there is still a big divide between north Columbus and south Columbus.
“There is a difference and something must be done to improve the economy on the south side of Macon Road,” he said.
Born and raised in Columbus, the Carver High School graduate began his church in 2014. Taylor is a fifth generation pastor who earned a degree from North Carolina College of Theology. He grew up at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Columbus.
He served eight years as a Marine and was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
He felt no pressure from family to become a pastor but “you have to submit what God is calling for you to do in your life,” he said.
According to church literature, Taylor has a “tremendous passion for God’s word coupled with a love for God’s people.” It says he is determined to continue to bridge the gaps between adolescents and adults, church and the community and the community and government.
Besides the church, he operates Tax Giants U.S.A. and his wife owns Taylor’s Thrift Mall. Both are located in the same strip mall as the church on South Lumpkin Road. Taylor is also a chaplain for Glory Hospice. He has appeared on Trinity Broadcast Network and The Word Network.
His church began on 10th Avenue in Columbus. He said it moved to its present location because the Oakland Park area needed a church that would focus on ministering to the people there and his food pantry and clothing bank does just that.
“The area was forsaken. We are a community driven church. Everything we do is to help the community,” Taylor said.
While it was difficult to start a ministry rather than take over an established church it has been rewarding for Taylor as the number of those attending on Sunday continues to grow.
“We are about much more than just the people who come here. We are reaching to anyone needing help,” he said.
That is including youth for whom his church sponsors a summer camp.
“We have gotten a good response,” he said.
Taylor feels a lot can be accomplished if people will just come together.
“This movement to help Columbus is not about one church. This is not about one ethnic group,” he said. “To conquer violence, we must all come together.”