But when the Church of England minister was out doing God’s work, the man he had taken pity on was having sex with his missus. Last night Ivan, also 49, said they could not resist their “forbidden” lust despite both being tormented by Christian guilt.
The pair first became close in April last year when ex-warehouseman Ivan moved into a drugs and alcohol rehab shelter managed by Sandra and volunteers from the East Northants Faith Group charity.
Sandra, married to Rev Taylor for 29 years, appeared in the local press to talk up the good work at the Recovery House in Rushden.
Her husband gave it his blessing on Twitter and heaped praise on Ivan and others from the pulpit at the town’s St Mary’s Church for confronting their demons.
But despite rules against relations between addicts and workers, pillar of the community Sandra was soon enjoying cosy chats with her bedraggled admirer.
Then after a spell back with his own wife Claire, 41, dad-of-two Ivan called Sandra. He begged for help when he started boozing and was turfed out of the family home.
The vicar and his wife agreed to put him up at their four-bedroom home in Rushden in May — and the unlikely friends grew even closer.
The married couple got him a place in another rehab house a mile away. But in July Sandra began sending him phone messages whenever the coast was clear for him to sneak over for afternoon sex.
Ivan said: “The whole thing was so far-fetched it didn’t seem it could be true. I would have to wait for her to message me. I wasn’t allowed to message her in case she was with her husband.
“Sometimes I’d just sit by the phone all day, waiting to be told where she would pick me up.
“And when I came over to their place I trusted Sandra that it was safe and we wouldn’t be caught.
“But I was jealous of her husband because she was still living with him. Sandra would say, ‘It’s you I want’, and that would calm me. She had so much to lose. It goes to show the level she was involved with me.
“And I was smitten because of how lovely she was. We’d fallen in love.
“We just couldn’t stop. Of course it was wrong, and the fact we are both Christian made it even worse. Matthew was a friend, which makes me feel terrible about it.”
Sandra took an active role in the church, organising Bible studies for youngsters, giving talks at the ladies’ group and putting on a winter ball for worshippers, where she sang with her husband.
The guilt-ridden mum of two grown-up daughters finally decided to tell him about the affair.
She is believed to have dropped her bombshell while on holiday in recent weeks.
Twice-married Ivan, from nearby Wellingborough, added: “The truth had to come out. Sandra decided to tell her husband about it first before anyone else did.
“They were going on holiday for two weeks and I said I couldn’t cope with the fact she would be away with him.
“I couldn’t cope with the jealousy. I said, ‘We need to tell everyone and be together or end it before we cause any more damage’.
“They got as far as London where she told her husband and then she came back to be with me. At this point she resigned from Recovery House because of what had gone on. It also meant that I lost my room at the dry house where I was staying because we had broken the rules.
“I ended up in an overnight shelter surrounded by drug addicts.
“Since then we have met only once. I did everything I could to keep her, because I wanted her.
“From what she told me, her husband has shown her understanding and forgiveness.
“Sandra and I have said our last goodbyes. She has gone back to her old life and I’m homeless again. I guess it’s over now for good.”
Last night Rev Taylor said: “During a time of great and intense emotional loss and stress, my wife Sandra was drawn into an inappropriate relationship with Ivan Mascarenhas while he was a voluntary member living in one of the rehab’s dry houses.
“It was a short relationship which is now ended and for which Sandra now feels great shame and sadness.
“She resigned immediately having realised the seriousness of the situation. Ivan has left the house and a flat has now been arranged for him in a different location.”
A spokesman for the diocese said: “We are committed to supporting Matt and Sandra as they rebuild their marriage.”
The Care Quality Commission said the matter had been referred to them by Northamptonshire county council.
Associate minister Rev Taylor presided over a 9.30am Harvest Thanksgiving at the church yesterday.