Celebrating Asian American/Pacific Islander History Month in the WNCC: Rev. Amos Taj

May 11, 2023

By: Jim Pyatt, WNCC Archivist & Historian

Rev. Amos Taj

The Rev. Amos Taj was born and raised in Taxila, Pakistan, where he was distinctly in the minority as a Christian. As he tells his tory, “Growing up in a Muslim country and a Christian home, I was the naughtiest child in the neighborhood. In my Christian childhood, I learned how to pray with a kind of examination of my conscience. Both my Sunday School teacher and mother led me in inept confession of my sins saying, ‘Remember your day and all the unkind and naughty things you said and did. Ask God to forgive you, and promise to try to be better tomorrow.’”

“Those good women were attempting to instill in my young heart the beginning of remorse and sense of guilt and the ever renewed possibility of God’s patient mercy. This was the time when I had dutifully and anxiously learned to search each day’s events and to train myself to recognize only the wrong things I had done. I never questioned God’s odd preference for only the wrong things I had done. Naturally, I had no idea how deeply I was shaping my image of God and my sense of myself.”

“At age 18, while teaching in the Missionary Language School, I became interested in the Christian ministry. I was learning a whole new way of offering my life to God. No longer was I just emptying the day’s trash before God. Rather, this was a whole new and redemptive way of finding God’s presence in all things. Instead, I could rejoice in discovering gifts received. Now I found a purposeful God in my life and looked forward to the goals that he set before me.”

“Finally, I had an opportunity to study in America. Before leaving by bus to London to take a ship to America, I stopped by to see my Scotch Presbyterian minister friend. He was very happy for me but concerned about my travels. He gave me a 25-pound check and the address of his friend in London. In addition, he promised to write a letter (with my photograph enclosed) to his bank in London, giving me authority over his bank account for as much as I might need.”

“After three months, finally, I reached London. Since the ship was not to leave before two weeks, I found myself there without knowing what I was going to do! Then I remembered what my minister friend had told me. I stayed with his London friend, who then took me to the bank. The bank was knowledgeable about this arrangement. I withdrew 40 pounds from his account. The bank manager and the London friend were astonished. They had never experienced anyone who would do such a thing for his friend. I couldn’t believe it either ‘until I put my finger in my Lord’s pierced hands!’”

“I did make it to America through many experiences of God’s providence. I’m beginning to learn that the examination of conscience is not at all the same as an examination of consciousness, in which I look back over the days from my early childhood to this day in order to find where God has been in it, and I still look forward to the goals he sets for me.” (“God Things,” Chattanooga Times Free Press, August 25, 2019)

The Rev. Amos Taj was ordained Deacon and received into Probationary Membership in the WNC Conference in 1969, and was ordained Elder and received into Full Connection in 1972. He earned his A.B. degree from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga in 1966, his M. Div. from Duke Divinity School in 1969, and his M.A. from North Texas State University in 1971.

While a clergy member of the Western North Carolina Conference, the Rev. Taj served at Greensboro Urban Ministries 1971-73 and as Program Coordinator and Consultant with the National Health Corporation 1974-79. He was on Leave of Absence 1972-73 and 1979-83. In 1983 he took Honorable Location. In 1989 he was readmitted to the WNC Conference and transferred his clergy membership to the Holston Conference, where he was appointed as Associate Pastor at Ooltewah UMC. The Rev. Taj continued to serve under appointment in local churches in the Holston Conference until his retirement in 2007.

When the Rev. Amos Taj became a clergy member of the WNC Conference, he was (to this writer’s knowledge, at least) the only Asian American clergyperson in the WNC Conference.

Be sure to read the other biographies written by WNCC Archivist & Historian Jim Pyatt:

Rev. Samuel Om, grew up Buddhist before becoming United Methodist in the WNCC in 2004.

Lucy Henderson Owen Robertson, the first president of the Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the WNC Conference.

Juanita "Nita" Tillman Henderson, the first woman to Chair the WNC Conference Council on Ministries, a position which she held from 1980 to 1988.

Rev. Dr. Nancy Burgis Rankin, the first woman in our conference to serve as Senior Pastor of a church with more than 1000 members.

Roberta Blackwell, served in the Charlotte District were as District Director of Church and Society 1979-84, member of the District Committee on the District Superintendent 1980-93, and as a member of the Charlotte District Trustees 2010-12.

Rev. Dr. Arnetta E. Beverly, the first African-American woman to serve as Director of Nurture and Ethnic Ministries, to serve as a District Superintendent in the WNC Conference, and to serve as a Director of Connectional Ministries in the Southeastern Jurisdiction.

Rev. Dr. James Walter Ferree, Sr., involved in realigning the North Carolina-Virginia Conference into what is now the three separate North Carolina, Western North Carolina, and Virginia Conferences.

Rev. Cecil Harvey Marcellus, Jr., the first African-American elected to the Reidsville City Council, where he served for three full terms and part of a fourth term.

Dr. David Dallas Jones, the president of Bennett College from 1926-1955.

Rev. William Hornbuckle, a Native American ordained Deacon in 1928 and Elder in 1931.

Daphine Strickland, part of the Task Force that led to the organization of Triad Native American Church, the first Native American congregation in our Conference outside of Cherokee.

Thomas Queen, the Director of the Cherokee Mission from 1973 until his death in 1992.

Jeremiah Wolfe, the first Native American to be elected a delegate to General Conference from the WNCC in 1976.

#BeUMC Personal Reflections