Tyler and Naomi Woods start each Saturday morning with freshly brewed coffee and the latest Woodland Hills sermon. Tyler says their new routine is “absolutely one of the best decisions we’ve made. As part-time pastors in our local church with full time jobs during the week, we always look forward to kicking back and hearing a message before our week begins.”
The couple married almost two years ago, and they have served at Monticello United Church of Christ in Greensboro, North Carolina for almost a year. Tyler is the worship pastor and Naomi is the children’s pastor. Outside of church, Tyler is a radiology transporter at the hospital, caring for patients as he transfers them from department to department. Naomi is a professional violinist playing in various orchestras and teaching private lessons. She also teaches Spanish to homeschoolers. Before the year ends, they will visit Oaxaca, Mexico where they first met and where Tyler first heard about Woodland Hills.
In 2014, Tyler graduated with a ministry degree from a Christian university, but he still felt confused and unprepared for his next step. While working at a grocery distribution center a coworker suggested an extended mission trip to Mexico. Tyler decided to go, and jokes about his decision: “Instead of looking for ministry jobs, I did what any normal person in this desperate situation would do. I fled to Mexico.”
After he was connected with his coworker’s pastor, Luis, Tyler traveled to Mexico. Thinking back on his time there, he says, “It was a pivotal moment in my life for sure. I will forever cherish that year I had with Luis and his family. Luis was able to mentor me, council me, and show me a better way to live and see God.” As a pastor, Luis had been influenced by Greg Boyd and the Anabaptist movement, so he shared a Woodland Hills sermon with Tyler. From then on, he was intrigued. Around that same time, Tyler met Naomi. She had gone to college with one of Luis’s daughters and came for a visit.
After Tyler left Mexico, they stayed in touch via email. He explains that email, “led to texting, which led to phone calls, which led to Skype, until eventually we discovered we were in love and wanted to be together for the rest of our lives.” Around that same time, Tyler began reading Greg’s books: The Myth of a Christian Nation, Repenting of Religion, The Crucifixion of the Warrior God, and Cross Vision. He said, “Each book was like finding the next key in a house full of locked doors. I started to see the world more clearly, the Bible made more sense, and God became more and more beautiful.”
The Woods have big dreams for their lives. Tyler would like to become a full-time worship pastor and pursue his music career. He’s currently working on an acoustic album called “David’s Room,” where he and Naomi record Psalms in a contemporary worship style. Through their music, they hope to convey authentic faith. Tyler says, “For me, that means I give myself permission to ask the hard questions, take risks by being vulnerable and be honest even if it means standing alone.” Naomi stands by his side with plans for a simple career that inspires her to always be a person of kindness and compassion, even if that means a smaller paycheck. Though, they say their ultimate dream is a bit of a stretch, “It would be absolutely epic if Woodland Hills moved to Greensboro, NC!”
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