Colette M. Jenkins

The Rev. Robert V. Taylor has a passion for helping people discover their full potential and explore ways they can affect the world.

“Everyone has a story. I invite them to claim their story, share their story and listen to the stories of others. In the process, we begin to discover that humanity is interwoven and intertwined. We begin to discover that we have a responsibility to impact the world with love,” said Taylor, a spiritual protege of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Taylor, who lives in Seattle, will share his story during a special Advent retreat from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio’s Trinity Cathedral, 2230 Euclid Ave., Cleveland. The retreat is being offered on the eve of Advent, which marks the new liturgical year for most Christians.

The spiritual season of Advent, which runs from Dec. 2 through Dec. 24, is a time of preparation for Christmas. It typically is observed as a season of prayer, fasting and repentance.

“As we thank God for the coming of Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit and anticipate Christ’s final coming at the end of time, we should stop and take stock of our lives,” said Adrienne Clements, Trinity’s adult education coordinator. “[Taylor] is a great person to help set people of the right course as we begin a new church year.”

Taylor, a native of South Africa, was a conscientious objector to apartheid in the 1970s and the first openly gay Episcopal dean in the United States. He is an advocate for the LGBT and HIV communities and the homeless in Seattle and serves as chairman of the New York-based Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation.

Tutu, a retired Anglican bishop who received worldwide acclaim during the 1980s as an opponent of apartheid in South Africa, sent Taylor to the United States in 1980 to keep him out of prison for his anti-apartheid activity.

“It was compulsory for me to serve in the all-white military. You could go to prison for life for refusing to serve,” Taylor said. “I could not find it within myself to contribute to the oppression of people, so I made a decision to go jail. But my encounter with Archbishop Tutu set me on a different course.”

A graduate of Rhodes University in South Africa, Taylor completed his graduate work at Union Theological Seminary in New York.

Taylor’s local retreat, called Imagination & Voice Rebirthed in You, will include presentations, reflection exercises and meditation time.

Taylor also will lead a discussion of his book, A New Way to Be Human: 7 Spiritual Pathways to Becoming Fully Alive, at 10 a.m. Sunday at Trinity Cathedral. A book signing is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at Joseph-Beth Gift Shop in the Miller Family Pavilion at the Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Ave.

Cost for the retreat, which includes lunch, is $30. To register, call 216-774-0418 or email aclements@dohio.org.

For more information about Taylor, go to www.robertvtaylor.com.

“We have so many encounters each day that can potentially change the course of our lives. When we recognize the love, compassion and sacredness of every human being, goodness and kindness are possible,” Taylor said. “When we come to a place where we discover who we are, we can determine how we can each leave a footprint of compassion in the world.”

Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or cjenkins@thebeaconjournal.com.