Family Ministry Background
Sylvia's preparation for ministry and her lifelong relationship with Elim began with her parents, Rev. and Mrs. A. Daniel Evans, who met as students at Elim in 1933, married in 1936, were both ordained in 1937, and served as pastors together for 52 years. Living in Lima, they continued to minister in many ways after their retirement in 1988. (At ages 92 and 93, first her Mom and then her dad went to be with the Lord in early 2008.) From their early years, they had trained their children in the Word and in service to the Lord, involving them in ministry. Sylvia’s oldest brother, David, pastored in Michigan for 31 years before his death in 1990. Bernard, also a pastor, served as President of Elim Fellowship for twelve years. Joel has served in various ministries, including music and worship.
Educational and Professional Background
Living on campus at Elim at several intervals in her life, Sylvia often attended conferences and took several Bible courses at Elim Bible Institute, but she studied formally at Houghton College, a Christian liberal arts college in Western New York. There her training included Bible and Greek courses and practical involvement in ministry, music, and missions preparation.
Having graduated from Houghton with a B.A. degree in classical languages (Latin and Greek), with minors in English and secondary education, she took additional studies in literature, linguistics, and music at several universities in New York, Florida, and Georgia throughout her fourteen years of teaching. She first taught at Houghton Academy and part-time at Elim, while expecting appointment as a missionary teacher in Kenya, East Africa. When political change closed that door, she taught one year in Florida, then was invited to settle in Waycross, Georgia, in 1965, as a high school teacher of Latin and English. Shortly thereafter she added the fields of choral music and drama. She became known in the South Georgia area as a choral director and producer of dramas and musicals in both schools and churches, as well as a speaker and singer for diverse programs.
Her involvement in ministry was first part-time, alongside teaching, as she served as choir director and Bible teacher in local churches and ministered inter-denominationally in the Waycross community. Then she entered full-time ministry on staff as Director of Music, Youth, and Teaching for First Presbyterian Church; then as Co-founder and Director of Counseling for the One-Way House, an inter-faith Christian help-center housed at the Assembly of God Church; then as Founder of Creative Word Ministries. She also later co-founded the Sacred Arts Center, a community project based at Trinity United Methodist Church, where she had also served as interim choir director and then become a member.
As a professional teacher and a community leader in Waycross, Sylvia received numerous awards, including the Valley Forge Teacher Medal and the National School Award from the national Freedoms Foundation, the S.A.R. Silver Good Citizenship Award, and listing in Outstanding Young Women of America. She was the first woman to receive the Outstanding Community Service Award in the Area of Religion for Waycross-Ware County, Georgia, where she was also named Professional Woman of the Year in 1976, just after founding Creative Word Ministries. Though Sylvia presently lives most of the year in Lima, NY, she continues to count Waycross as a place to call “home” in her heart, and she returns often to the home of Dorothy Jones, who together with her late husband, Fred, first invited Sylvia to move to Georgia. They counted her as the first of their “chosen children,” part of their “made-up Georgia family.”