Maybell Bible Church offers wisdom, teaching with dose of humor
Pastor Linda Taylor looks blindness in the eye
February 21, 2015
Craig — Laughter pealed through the pews of Maybell Bible Church on a Sunday morning in early February, as it does most Sunday mornings starting at 10 a.m.
Pastor Linda Taylor stood in front, anything but stoic, cracking jokes and offering up the day's wisdom with a strong dose of country humor.
Small in stature but big in spirit, Taylor embodies the character of the rural church: kind, welcoming, hearty, resilient.
The church has been around since about 1903, though it moved to its current housing on the west side of Maybell in 1966.
Taylor, known as Pastor Linda to churchgoers, has ministered to the congregation for the last 15 of those years. Though she leads with her humor, she doesn't shy from difficult or vulnerable topics. In fact, one of her own personal crises has become a source of great teaching: she is slowly going blind.
Diagnosed with macular degeneration, her eyes began deteriorating significantly two years ago. Now, all she can see are fuzzy shapes and colors, and she can no longer read nor drive.
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"You gotta trust the Lord in all things," Pastor Linda said to her congregation. "I do it daily now with my eyes. I'm not gonna let it get me down."
Nearly 25 people filled the room, attentive, earnest and eager to laugh when Taylor offered up another joke. Her humor is the self-deprecating kind, colored with the no-nonsense attitude of a woman who was born to a family of Wyoming sheep ranchers and who married a cattle rancher from Browns Park.
Her husband of 47 years, Orval Taylor, quietly joins her at the pulpit during her sermon every Sunday to read the Bible passages that she can no longer see.
"He's my eyes, and I'm his ears," Linda said of Orval, whose hearing is poor.
Pastor Linda has been preaching for 32 years. When she and Orval first moved back to Maybell after living in Texas and Arizona for 15 years, the Maybell Bible Church was struggling.
"A good Sunday was half a dozen people if you were lucky," Taylor said. "If we had six, it was a crowd."
Within a few months, Linda was asked to pastor the church. Though the community of churchgoers is still small, it draws anywhere from one to three dozen people most Sundays, some traveling from Lay and even Rangely.
"It's always worth it to see everyone here," said Rusty Maddox, who lives in Rangely. "I grew up here. It's kind of like family."
The church got a makeover about six months ago when it was handed over by its previous caretakers. Church members painted the exterior white to brighten things up, and Judy Samer volunteered to paint colorful stained glass windows and a bible on one wall.
Pastor Linda has a team of regular helpers on Sundays, including organist Betty Morris and a quartet known as the Anchors, made up of the pastor, Larry Matlock, Bob Harding and David Miller. Miller and Roger DeJong are also ministers in training.
"She just brings the place alive. Anybody you bring with you says they are never bored," Samer said. "She keeps things lively and it's just a very energetic, sometimes very happy, sometimes very emotional time. Sometimes she'll have us crying. You never know."
As Pastor Linda's vision worsens and she surrenders to her own journey into increasing darkness, she continues to find ways to bring light and humor to those she serves.
"There's days you're gonna get up and you're going to cry, and there's days you're going to get up and say, 'Who can I help today?'" Taylor said. "You just learn to go through whatever comes into your life. … You overcome it and you find another avenue. You gotta give people hope."
Contact Lauren Blair at 970-875-1794 or lblair@CraigDailyPress.com.