A preacher's son born in Virginia, Taylor was converted to Christ at the age of 21. Quickly recognized for his powerful preaching skills, Taylor along with his wife Anne, and one child were sent to California in 1849 to engage in pioneer work in the San Francisco Bay area.
Taylor's deep Christian commitment and his extraordinary physical stamina allowed him to preach in Africa, Australia, the Caribbean, England, India, North America and South America. In 1884 he was elected Missionary Bishop of Africa by the Methodist General Conference, and from that year to 1897 Bishop Taylor established mission stations in Angola and the Congo (Zaire). He also strengthened the Methodist work in Liberia and South Africa.
Bishop Taylor was known for his rugged individualism, directness of speech, adaptability to various cultures and circumstances, and amazing energy level.
William Taylor was a commanding figure. When he went to California he was six feet tall weighing 207 pounds. Although he preached throughout the world, Taylor is best remembered for his work in Africa with his first contact being in South Africa in 1866. This successful evangelistic effort energized the South African Methodist Church, and propelled Taylor into world-wide fame. From 1884 to 1897, Taylor revived the Methodist work in Liberia and attracted a number of missionaries to Angola and the Congo (Zaire) where he established mission stations.
In order to have effective Christian witness, Taylor expected his missionaries to live among the Africans at their host's economic level and to conform to their culture. These "self-supporting" missionaries faced severe hardships particularly during the early years, but many persevered.
William Taylor was the author of eighteen books, frequently writing the manuscripts during the long voyages across the world's oceans. These books sold tens of thousands of copies thus providing income for the Taylor family and his self-supporting missions.
[Excerpted from the Taylor University website]