El reverendo Jemonde Taylor
Since 2012, the Reverend Robert Jemonde Taylor serves as the eleventh rector of Saint Ambrose Episcopal Church. He grew up in Saint Matthias’ Episcopal Church, Louisburg, NC. Father Taylor nurtures a season of liturgical renewal at Saint Ambrose with an emphasis on African American and African culture through Ethiopian Orthodox icons as Stations of the Cross, icons and kneelers of African American Episcopal saints, Episcopal service music based on African American Spirituals, and a Jazz Mass.
Father Taylor recently led Saint Ambrose through a three-year capital campaign raising twice the church’s annual budget while maintaining strong stewardship, with building upgrades emphasizing environmentalism through rain gardens and rainwater cisterns installations, restroom and water renovations using 80% less water, and low-e glass protecting the stained-glass windows to reduce heat transmission. Father Taylor is active in the community through his membership as chair of Raleigh’s Stormwater Management Advisory Commission (SMAC), Duke Cancer Institute Community Advisory Council, PBS TV Black Issues Forum Advisor, and founder and strategy team member of ONE Wake, a community organizing power group. He is active in the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina as past president of the Standing Committee, member of Diocesan Council, co-chair for the Nominating Committee to elect the XII Bishop Diocesan, Discipline Board, Chartered Committee on History and Archives, and chair of Finance, Business Affairs, and Administration.
He is active in the larger Church as board member and treasurer for the Gathering of Leaders, the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest board of trustee member, consultant for the Office of Black Ministries, the Episcopal Church Foundation Congregational Leadership Initiative (CLI) faculty, and a contributor to Sermons that Work. Taylor’s work throughout the Anglican Communion includes the Compass Rose Society (U.K.), ministry in the Episcopal/Anglican Province of Alexandria (Egypt), and the Anglican Church of Kenya. Father Taylor is working on a documentary film on Race, Church, and Theological Practices funded by a $400,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation.
His recent seminars and lectures include: Divine Revelation as Endarkenment; Wrapped in Whiteousness: Worship, Liturgy, and Race; The Darkness Sings: The Church’s Unfinished Symphony with Race; and Baptized in Dirty Water: The Theology of Hip-Hop. Father Taylor studies the spirituality and history of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, including leading pilgrimages to Ethiopia.
He received the School of Theology Award for Service from the University of the South: Sewanee and the Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Sabbatical Grant. He led the congregation in receiving the City of Raleigh Stormwater Community Award, the Rev. Thomas Dropper Memorial Green Congregation Award, Diocese of NC, and The Episcopal Church’s Creation Care Grant for a three phase project: an environmental justice podcast; a labyrinth; and a therapeutic garden to address the community’s emotional and mental wellness. Root and Vine Magazine featured the church’s environmental efforts. Father Taylor’s media presence includes interviews with Episcopal News Services (ENS), NBC International, ABC, CBS, and PBS.
Prior to arriving at Saint Ambrose, Father Taylor served Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, Dallas, TX as a part of the Lilly Foundation’s Transition into Ministry Fellowship. In addition to his responsibilities at Saint Michael, his ministry encompassed Jubilee Park, a mostly Spanish speaking neighborhood, and Saint Philip’s School and Community Center, a historically African American Episcopal elementary school.
Father Taylor holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina State University and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in robotics and vehicle design from Stanford University. He worked as an automotive performance and design engineer for Michelin Tire Company before entering seminary. He earned his M.Div. from the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church in New York City in 2009.
He is married to Kierson Leigh Taylor, and they are the proud parents of two children. Kierson Leigh Taylor, is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she double majored in psychology and communication studies. Kierson also holds a Master of Business Administration from East Carolina University. She is also accredited as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR). She has spent her career in human resources, working for both Fortune 500 companies and large nonprofits. Her most recent position was as the senior vice president of human resources for a corporation headquartered in Raleigh, NC. After the birth of our son, Kierson took more than a year away from corporate life.
Kierson enjoys volunteering and is active in her community. She is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Raleigh; a former member of the board of directors for the Junior League of Greensboro as the community vice president; the former chair for Kids in the Kitchen, a fun healthy lifestyle and diet program for both kids and their parents; and longtime volunteer and supporter for StepUp Ministry, a holistic, family focused program giving children and adults the tools and support they need to achieve their goals and find stability in their lives. In addition to caring for her family, her professional life, and volunteer services, Kierson enjoys having new culinary experiences at restaurants and live music concerts.
Kierson is an avid cook, a gift she learned from her maternal great grandmother, and enjoys hosting joy filled gatherings where people feel welcome and strangers leave as friends.
The Rev. Thomas Dropper Memorial Green Congregation Award, Diocese of NC (2022)