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Reverend Gardner C. Taylor Collection: Research and Curriculum Guide

About this Guide

This curriculum guide was prepared by Shanesha R. F. Brooks Tatum, Ph.D.

On this page: 

Brief Description of Collection

Overview of Collection

Selected Sermons by Subject

Questions for Research and Discussion


The Reverend Gardner C. Taylor Collection is one of the most extensive collections at the Archives Research Center. Spanning more than 1100 manuscript titles, the Collection includes sermons as well as a few speeches, prayers, eulogies, and lectures, and covers the period of 1947-2001. Rev. Taylor (b. June 18, 1918) was named the “Dean of the nation’s Black preachers” by Time Magazine and has preached all over the world to a variety of audiences. He holds more than 100 honorary doctorate degrees and has been an invited speaker for over seven decades.

An examination of his sermons reveals the vast number of topics that Rev. Taylor addresses, from the war in Vietnam, to Civil Rights, to evangelism, to race relations and self-development. Students, researchers and instructors will find this collection relevant to teaching and learning about a variety of subjects in African American Religion, Religious Studies, Political Science, Literature, Composition, and more. This guide has been composed to aid teachers, researchers, and undergraduate and graduate students in utilizing the collection based on their interests and needs.

The Reverend Gardner C. Taylor Collection encapsulates a life’s work: sermons under constant revision, thoughtful variations on recurring historical themes, and the consistent work to progress as a preacher in improving one’s messages and ability to connect to one’s audience.


Although the Reverend Gardner C. Taylor collection is primarily an archive of sermons, students, instructors and researchers of a variety of disciplinary backgrounds and foci will find the Collection relevant due to the breadth of Rev. Taylor’s subject matter, his vivid and picturesque writing style, and the historical scope of his work, which spans more than 6 decades. The Religious Studies or Divinity student will find that Rev. Taylor’s messages, while captivating and clear, also speak beyond doctrine and across denominations as he addresses moral and ethical values that he believes individuals should strive to possess. The Literature student and researcher will find Taylor’s sermons picturesque; his words paint the scene and recreate his experiences for his listeners and readers. (e.g., “Announcing the New Age.” [12/17/1978] Box 2, Folder 8). The English or literary studies student and reader will also find Taylor’s robust use of metaphors and analogies from everyday life refreshing and instructive. Instructors will find it helpful to guide students in charting Taylor’s editing and revision processes over several different versions of his sermons to teach students about how even slight changes in word choice and sentence structure can improve writing tremendously.

The History student and researcher will find timeless some of Taylor’s messages, while also observing their relevance to specific time periods, such as the Vietnam War (e.g., see “Already – Not Yet!” [3/3/1968] in Box 1, Folder 34). The student of Folklore will encounter Taylor’s storytelling techniques, and would appreciate an examination of the changes and continuities in his storytelling style over his oeuvre of more than six decades. Students and researchers in Political Science will find ways in which President Barack Obama’s messages of hope resonate with many of Rev. Taylor’s sermons, and will find interest in his sermons on race relations. And Ministers and students of Theology will find many tips and hints for constructing an effective sermon, tips which are given most explicitly in “Building a Sermon” (Box 4, Folder 22). Taylor states that preachers enter “a kind of brooding, unmorose introspection, as if listening to some mysterious, often melancholy music, within” (6). Church leaders and pastors can find inspiration and words of wisdom for cultivating their church communities as well. Please note that the Rev. Gardner C. Taylor Preaching Laboratory at the Interdenominational Theological Center houses Taylor’s Recorded Sermons, which will also prove useful in your exploration of Rev. Taylor’s work.Learn more at


Please note that the Collection is comprised of 1148 manuscript titles. Given the scope of the Collection, this list comprises initial recommendations based on one’s subject of interest. Students, instructors, and researchers are encouraged to utilize this list as an entry point into one’s topic, and then browse the Collection for more titles of interest. Please see the Collection’s Finding Aid (by manuscript title) at the following link:

Politics, Power & War

“The Pause for Power.” December 1, 1951, Box 29, Folders 29 & 30.

“Already – Not Yet!” “Already – Not Yet!” March 3, 1968. Box 1, Folder 34.

“The Power That is Not Power.” February 6, 1966. Box 30, Folder 22.

“Conflict and Conquest.” June 23, 1963. Box 7, Folder 31.

“Men’s Schemes and God’s Plans.” August 6, 1967. Box 24, Folder 31.

Race Relations

“Outside the Camp.” July 23, 1967. Box 29, Folder 17.

“A Better Diet.” June 18, 1972. Box 3, Folder 30.

“Princes or Slaves.” May 3, 1963. Box 31, Folders 8 & 9.

“Race Hate.” February 3, 1963. Box 21, Folders 1 – 4.

“Can America Survive?” July 5, 1964. Box 5, Folders 11 & 12.

“Conscience of Nation.” May 24 and 26, 1960. Box 7, Folder 34.

“Christ and Human Rights.” n.d. Box 5, Folder 37.

“A Model for All Who Suffer.” March 12, 1972. Box 25, Folder 12.

Christian Values & Spiritual Development

“Our Christian Responsibility.” September 15, 1957. Box 28, Folder 25.

“Belief Beyond Belief.” April 5, 1964. Box 3, Folder 19.

“Beyond Fear.” July 21, 1957. Box 3, Folders 33 & 34.

“The Call to Greatness.” April 22 (no year). Box 5, Folder 3.

“The Center of Our Faith.” February 25, 1973. Box 5, Folder 20.

Discipleship & Church Communities

“The Path of Discipleship.” October 1, 1961. Box 29, Folder 26.

“The Authority of Experience.” February 4, 1975. Box 2, Folder 30.

“By This the Church Lives.” n.d. Box 4, Folder 29.

“The Church Cannot Burn.” March 4, 1956. Box 7, Folder 12.

Christian Life

“Christian Family Life.” May 8, 1983. Box. 6, Folder 13.

“Christmas According to the Shepherds.” December 23, 1979. Box 7, Folder 1.

“Christ’s Final Question to Us.” January 1, 1968. Box 7, Folder 9.

“Creative Waiting.” n.d. Box 8, Folder 12.

“A Cry in the Night.” December 5, 1965. Box 8, Folder 23.

On Preaching

“Building a Sermon.” n.d. Box 4, Folder 22

“Paying the Price – In Compassionate Preaching.” n.d. Box 29, Folder 31.

“Preaching in the Black Community. n.d. Box 30, Folder 37.

“Preaching the Whole Counsel of God.” n.d. Box 30, Folder 38.

“Preaching to Men in Community.” n.d. Box 30, Folder 39.

“The Christian as Preacher.” June 11, 1967. Box 6, Folder 2.


  • How might understanding the faith perspective on events and themes that occur throughout history shed light on your research or teaching topics of interest?
  • How do Reverend Gardner C. Taylor’s sermons relate to Black Liberation Theology?
  • In exploring themes such as redemption, faith, and salvation, how do Rev. Taylor’s sermons expand or enable a more nuanced understanding of such themes?
  • What themes or issues does Rev. Taylor address in regards to the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements?
  • How, if at all, do Rev. Gardner C. Taylor’s sermons relate to other sermons you have read and/or heard?
  • How might the sermon “An Abundant Life” (Box 1, Folder 3) relate to President Obama’s message of hope?
  • How does Rev. Taylor’s tone change with different topics and in different time periods?
  • What differences exist between Rev. Taylor’s written messages and his recorded ones? The Rev. Gardner C. Taylor Lab at the Interdenominational Theological Center houses Taylor’s Recorded Sermons. Learn more at