By Michaela Kron

Many children play house and doctor as they are growing up, but when Jan Warren-Taylor was young, she played priest.

“When I look at it, I think God had a call on my life for a long time,” said Warren-Taylor, 60, the senior pastor at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 5855 Riverside Drive, just inside I-285 in Sandy Springs.

She said it took her a while to realize women could work in ministry because of her upbringing.

Before becoming pastor at St. Andrew’s last June, Warren-Taylor’s jobs included telephone operator, customer service representative, contract administrator and representative for a large medical supply company. She also is the mother of five children, all of whom are grown, and was a foster parent to 18 children. She has three granddaughters.

After completing her master of divinity degree at the Columbia Theological Seminary in 2002, Warren-Taylor became associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Douglasville and Smyrna Presbyterian Church in Conyers.

“It’s very different when you’re in the role of senior vs. associate pastor,” she said. “Just being a member of the team was very formative and helpful.”

When Warren-Taylor became senior pastor at St. Andrew’s, she devoted herself to establishing quality worship and prayer as well as building infrastructure.

Looking back on her first year as a senior pastor, Warren-Taylor said she feels fulfilled despite the challenges.

“It’s challenging when you’re in a smaller church, but then you get to do a little bit of everything,” she said. “It’s been wonderful, in that I have a great support staff here. It takes time, but I’m excited because I just believe that we have a great future.”

Warren-Taylor hopes that the church, which has 48 members (not counting children under 8), will double in its membership within the next 12 to 18 months.

She said St. Andrew’s proximity to I-285 on Riverside Drive often allows the church to help people with basic needs and emergencies. In one instance, a young woman whose car overheated near the church came in and asked for water for her car. In another case, the church called an ambulance for a woman who came in and said she was experiencing chest pains.

“It’s really interesting to see how many people we are able to touch,” Warren-Taylor said.