Rev. Tara Beth Leach '05 and Dr. Robert Taylor '77 received "O" Awards during Homecoming & Family Weekend 2019
Olivet Nazarene University's Homecoming & Family Weekend 2019 concluded on Sunday, October 27 with the President’s Prayer Breakfast, hosted by Dr. John C. Bowling. During the breakfast, Rev. Tara Beth Leach ’05 was awarded the 2019 Ministerial "O" Award and Dr. Robert Taylor ’77 was awarded the 2019 Lay "O" Award for their exemplary leadership in the workplace. Both recipients shared testimonies at the breakfast of how Olivet shaped their respective careers.
Following are excerpts from the bios of Rev. Leach and Dr. Taylor that were printed in the Homecoming & Family Weekend program.
Rev. Tara Beth (Moore) Leach '05
Tara Beth is the senior pastor at First Church of the Nazarene of Pasadena (“PazNaz”) in Southern California. A gifted and engaging communicator, she is also the author of two books, Emboldened, and Kingdom Culture. Her new book, Radiant, will come out in late 2020.
Following in the footsteps of her parents, Gary and Arlene Moore, Tara Beth graduated from Olivet in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in youth ministry. At Olivet, she met her husband Jeff Leach ’04. Jeff’s parents, Stu and Lynn Leach, and grandparents, Dave and Esther Leach, also all graduated from Olivet.
Tara Beth and Jeff have two beautiful and rambunctious children, Caleb and Noah. They spend a lot of time backpacking, hiking, running from bears and keeping her boys from catching too many reptiles in the national parks.
As a student at Olivet, Tara Beth saw value in cultivating community through connections and was very involved in student government. She was the class chaplain during her freshman and sophomore years and the vice president for Spiritual Life during her junior and senior years. Of her involvement she reflects, “Party with Jesus every Monday night and being poured into by the amazing professors in the Religion Department definitely added value to how I learned and thrived at college.”
“My experience at Olivet was transformative. It is a community that is Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, and Spirit-drenched. As a mom of two boys, I hope my boys choose Olivet.”
In 2016, Tara Beth completed a master’s degree in divinity from Northern Theological Seminary. She is a regular writer for Missio Alliance and has contributed to various other publications such as Christianity Today. She has contributed chapters to two books edited by Scot McKnight, including a chapter in The Apostle Paul and The Christian Life: Ethical and Missional Implications of the New Perspective. Additional career highlights have included publishing with theologian Dr. N.T. Wright; pastoring a large church within the denomination as a woman; and speaking at an Azusa Pacific University Commencement Ceremony to a crowd of 15,000 people.
More than anything, Tara Beth is madly in love with King Jesus, and believes his bride can be who Jesus says she can be. While the Bride of Christ is broken and sinful, it is a means by which Jesus chooses to redeem the world. Tara Beth spends most of her days using her time and gifts for the church.
“I never dreamed I’d come back to Olivet to receive the ‘O’ Award,” Tara Beth says. “I am honored, blown away, and humbled.”
Dr. Robert L. Taylor '77
Robert is a third-generation public school educator who believes that the art of teaching is the noblest of professions. Throughout his illustrious career in education, Dr. Taylor has served as a teacher, coach, assistant principal and principal at the high school, middle school and elementary school levels in the United States and Europe.
At Olivet, Robert met his wife Jackie (Voss) ’77. After graduating in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, Robert continued to pursue academic enlightenment with a master’s degree in educational administration in 1981 and then a doctor of education degree in policy and educational leadership in 2003, both from Indiana University. Robert and Jackie have two adult sons, Matthew and Cole Taylor.
While every educational pursuit has been valuable for Dr. Taylor, his Olivet experience was pivotal in his personal development. As a varsity letter winner for Olivet’s wrestling team, he understood the value of teamwork and building strong relationships, even in activities that are traditionally individualistic. As a student, Dr. Taylor took note of how faculty members mentored students and provided a learning environment that not only promoted, but also practiced the application of ethical leadership in all phases of campus life.
“I have long held that my experiences at Olivet, both academic and personal, were the foundational underpinnings of my personal core values and my professional moral compass.” Dr. Taylor says. “At Olivet you will find not only opportunity, but also meaning and clarification of purpose for your chosen career. Opportunity exists for all students.”
Dr. Taylor has served as an educational consultant and professional mentor for educational and business partnership development and has provided staff development training for business leaders, administrators, educators and upper-level operational managers throughout China, Europe and the United States. The primary purpose of these partnerships has been to provide students with the tools to pursue meaningful careers in their chosen industries.
Prior to moving to Lebanon, Indiana, Dr. Taylor worked with the Department of Defense Overseas Education Activity in Germany from 1981 until 1995 – serving in several educational administrative positions. He also served as the superintendent for the Lebanon Community School Corporation, located in Lebanon, Indiana from 2006 until 2019. In August 2019, after a 42-year career in public education, Dr. Taylor became the associate director for the Indiana Association of Public-School Superintendents.
“Olivet provided a guiding light of illumination which I have strived to incorporate throughout my professional journey. The light of knowledge, faith and honor was ignited at Olivet and the intensity has been maintained through the reflection and memories of my time as a student.”
Dr. Taylor says, “Being recognized for my professional contributions by representatives of the Olivet Alumni Board provides a validation and acknowledgement of my contributions to the field of education in general and, more specially, my efforts in in mentoring and developing the next generation of educational leaders. No greater recognition could provide a more meaningful sense of professional accomplishment than to be honored with the 2019 ‘O’ Award.”
Since 1957, Olivet's alumni association has honored outstanding alumni through the presentation of the "O" Awards at the annual fall celebration. A lay recipient and a ministerial recipient are chosen from nominations submitted to the Alumni Board. Qualified individuals represent the ideals of the University and have distinguished themselves in their professional titles.
For more information about life at Olivet, contact the Office of Admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-648-1463.
Photography: Image Group