On Sunday, November 6, 1994, Rev. Donna Lyn Smith-Taylor was installed as the first female Pastor of the historic Shiloh Baptist Church in Tarrytown. Now after 47 years of preaching and teaching, and 25 years of pastoring at Shiloh Baptist Church, Rev. Smith-Taylor is retiring. A celebratory Retirement/Anniversary Banquet was held in her honor on Friday, November 1 at the Double Tree by Hilton in Tarrytown. Pastors, clergy, family and well-wishers from throughout New York State and beyond gathered to pay tribute to this dynamic women of God. Guest preacher for the celebration was Rev. Robert W. Wright, II, from Birmingham, Alabama.
In addition to the banquet, the Shiloh Baptist Church Reunion Choir came together to “Worship Through Song” in a musical tribute on October 27th, under the musical direction of Sister Denise Stith Edwards, former Minister of Music at Shiloh. On Sunday, November 3, 2019, Shiloh members and the community celebrated Rev. Taylor’s 25th Anniversary. Guest preacher for the occasion was Rev. Jason Johnson, Pastor of Kingdom Ekklesia of Hurst, Texas.
The oldest of four children born to Mrs. Georgia and the late Roger B. Smith, Rev. Smith-Taylor was born, raised, and educated in Detroit, Michigan. She was one of the original members of the Thomas Whitfield Company, a nationally renowned Detroit-based gospel recording choir. Pastor Smith-Taylor was called to the preaching ministry in 1972, under the pastoral leadership of the late Rev. James Allen Caldwell, at Burnette Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. She later united with Prayer Tabernacle Church and then Power House Temple, where she was an active member. She relocated to New York, NY in 1982 and in 1984, joined Memorial Baptist Church in the Village of Harlem, where the late Rev. Dr. Preston Washington, Sr. was pastor. In September 1988, Rev. Taylor was ordained to the preaching ministry at Memorial Baptist Church. While serving at Memorial, she was actively engaged in various roles at the church, including serving as a New Disciples Sunday school teacher, assistant to the Pastor, administrative assistant, public relations director, revival coordinator and choir member. In addition, Rev. Taylor edited two of Dr. Washington’s published books and his doctoral dissertation. Soon after, she was called to be the pastor of Kenilworth Baptist Church in Brooklyn, NY, where she served for two years. She was the second female and the first African American pastor of Kenilworth.
Rev. Taylor decision to retire is due to health issues. She plans to return to Detroit where she will spend time with her mother and her sister.