Tyler has been around church his whole life. From early on his parents were intentional about surrounding their family with a loving church community. This they found in the wonderful congregation of Sharon Baptist Church in West Smithfield. It was here that Tyler learned the stories of scripture and the simple, yet profound truths of God’s love through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Some of Tyler’s earliest and fondest memories of childhood occurred within the walls of that special place.
As a teenager, Tyler joined the youth ministry at First Baptist Church in Smithfield (where, ironically enough, Paul was a member and youth leader in the group). Through the many youth retreats, mission trips, camp weeks, and fellowship events, Tyler formed some of his best friendships that still continue to this day. At this point, ministry was nowhere on Tyler’s radar. Yet, God was at work behind the scenes in the occasional encouragements of church members, the passion to help people kindling in his heart, and the wise counsel of faithful mentors.
Tyler graduated from Smithfield-Selma High School in 2006 and enrolled at Barton College to pursue his Bachelor’s degree and play soccer. After completing his freshman year, he transferred to Campbell University where he would complete his undergraduate studies with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and a minor in Business Administration. One day, while walking across campus just a few weeks before graduation, Tyler had a pivotal conversation that would radically impact his future. Sure enough, that conversation was with none other than Paul Burgess, who was a current Campbell Divinity student at the time. Paul encouraged Tyler to prayerfully consider applying to the divinity school, especially since he had an interest in foreign missions upon graduation. Tyler still believes that this encounter was nothing short of the Holy Spirit. He applied, was accepted, and the script was set. He stepped foot into Campbell Divinity School on his first day of classes, determined to become equipped for international missions.
Yet God wasn’t finished weaving the story. Tyler jokes that he was tricked into ministry. About halfway through his graduate studies, he began volunteering with the youth group at Plymouth Church with one of his best friends, Lawrence Powers, who was the youth minister there. After years of fruitful ministry, Lawrence took a ministry position elsewhere and the vacated role was offered to Tyler. After much prayer and deliberation, he accepted and found himself officially in church ministry work. Since then, he has served as a part-time youth minister with Plymouth Church and Four Oaks United Methodist Church. During these years of ministry, Tyler also met his beautiful wife, Ashley, who, in many ways, is also a minister as she supports and affirms Tyler and those he serves. To him, she is God’s grace personified. Tyler is both blessed and excited to now be serving in his first full-time position as the Minister of Youth and Children here at Benson Baptist Church.
Who would have ever dreamed that after attending youth group and playing high-school soccer matches alongside one another that Paul and Tyler would now be side by side on the same ministry team? The Lord certainly did. And he has great plans for this team and all of the ministries at Benson Baptist Church as they connect to God, each other, and the world.