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Retiring Interfaith Paths to Peace Director Recalls Changes in Louisville and Beyond

Terry Taylor recently added to his list of accomplishments, accolades and travels: former executive director of Interfaith Paths to Peace.

Since becoming leader of the Louisville non-profit in December 2004, Taylor has traveled to the West Bank on a peacemaking mission and been a guest of the Emirate of Qatar. He was invited by the mayor of Hiroshima to take part in that city’s commemoration ceremony.

Taylor said Interfaith Paths to Peace started 19 years ago as an offshoot of an organization called the Council on Peacemaking. That organization would eventually split, with one of the halves becoming Interfaith.

Listen:

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The organization is a partner of the international Charter for Compassion campaign, and maintains relationships with more than 100 groups, including houses of worship, peacemaking organizations and businesses. The organization claims to deliver “more day-to-day interfaith events and opportunities than any other group in the Louisville area and, we believe, in the U.S.”

“Terry has had an unwavering commitment to bringing peace and compassion to our own community, and his efforts have been recognized globally as well,” Mayor Greg Fischer said in an email.

“During his years of leadership with Interfaith Paths to Peace, he has created unique partnerships and strengthened the foundation of an already caring community. Terry’s early and consistent efforts have clearly played a key role in Louisville being recognized as an International Model City for Compassion. His work has made us a better community and better people.”

For Taylor, his personal path to discovery started in the 1970s, with his discovery of Thomas Merton.

Nobody was doing this—establishing friendships with people in other religions, doing peacemaking, and returning everybody to what he called contemplative spirituality, which is about prayer in silence, connecting at a very deep level with everything and everyone around you," Taylor said.

"That model was something that had lived in my life, and I just felt that that model could be played out in a context that would address a lot of problems in the world.”

Taylor moved to Louisville in 2000 to accept a directorship at the Thomas Merton Foundation. After that, he served three years for what was then called the Cathedral Heritage Foundation (today it is called the Center for Interfaith Relations, and is known as the host of the twice-annual Festival of Faiths).
He said he’s seen a lot of changes in recent years, both in our community and the world at large.

Louisville has seen a “very positive explosion in our cultural diversity,” he said.

“When I first started doing this work, if you had come to me and said, ‘I’d like to meet a Buddhist, can you help me?’ I’d have said, ‘Give me a couple of days and I’ll poke around,’” he said.

“Nowadays when people ask that kind of question, I would say, ‘What sort of Buddhist would you like to talk to?’”