From Lyme Regis to Bermuda
Smith's Parish has a new associate priest, and he is excited about the possibilities that lay ahead for ministry and growth.
The Reverend Gavin Tyte, a former professional beatboxer, joins the Anglican Church of Bermuda's clergy team after the Reverend Jamaine Tucker, former curate for Hamilton Parish and Smith's, moved on to take the role of priest-in-charge of Christ Church, Devonshire.
Mr Tyte saw the advertisement for the position during a period of personal transition and knew immediately it was the kind of ministry he and his family could settle into.
“My wife, Helen, and I had been working on Ascension Island in the South Atlantic but had to return to the UK to deal with some family matters. We could not return to Ascension Island, so we began to look for a new post. When we saw the vacancy here in Bermuda, well, we just had to apply.
“Then, during the process, it became clear it was where we were meant to be. There were so many incredible coincidences — with people and places.
“Canon John Stow, rector of Holy Trinity, Hamilton, used to be vicar of the parish in the UK where Helen and I were married; my great-grandfather's brother moved to Bermuda and was involved in the Unfinished Church in the grounds where Canon John lived as a child; Helen and I are from Lyme Regis, [the home town of Admiral Sir George Somers] which is twinned with St George's, and so on. It was quite a journey, but we knew God was with us.”
Canon Stow now holds the position of priest-in-charge of Hamilton Parish and Smith's, responsible for overseeing Holy Trinity Church as well as St Mark's Church.
As the responsibility was too great for one clergyman to juggle, the parish began searching last year for an associate priest to add to their ministry team.
Mr Tyte joins the parish with his wife, Helen, and their youngest son, Keir, who is 13. The family relocated just as the Government announced the first two weeks of shelter-in-place, in April.
“The move to Bermuda was stressful. I am sure you are aware of how long work permits can take to come through!
“Well, we heard that ours came through at 7.30pm on a Tuesday night and our flight was booked for the following Thursday. This meant we had little time to pack.
“And as it turns out, we pretty much took the last three seats on the last flight to Bermuda before the lockdown. It was meant to be though, and we are thrilled to be here — servicing the local church and community as best we can given the restrictions surrounding shelter-in-place.”
Mr Tyte came to faith at the age of 18, while camping in the Australian Outback having taken a gap year before university.
“I had been giving a great deal of thought to Jesus and to the Bible, and to religion in general. I was struck by the words of Jesus to ‘just believe' and so, one night, as I sat under the stars with my tent and campfire, I chose to believe.
“That was 30 years ago, and I have never looked back.”
Several years later, he felt the call to ordained ministry, although it was the furthest thing from his mind at the time.
His career path had taken him from a recording studio to a virtual reality company before he began lecturing on music technology at the college level.
“It was while I was teaching that I felt the call from God to go into ordained ministry. I was the last person that thought they would ever be an Anglican minister — I was a beatboxer and DJ!
“But, deep down, I knew in my heart that God was asking me to be a priest. I trained in Bristol, England, before working in a mix of urban and rural parishes.”
One of the many highlights of his ministry came in 2011 when he won an online video competition where he beatboxed and rapped the nativity story.
“It went viral and I was on national television and radio in the two weeks leading up to Christmas,” Mr Tyte said. “But perhaps, the best highlights have been the opportunities to share God's love with those that are forgotten, downtrodden and hurting — seeing how God can meet them in their lowest points and lift them up.”
Mr Tyte was licensed by the Right Reverend Nicholas Dill, Bishop of Bermuda, on April 3 in a virtual service held at St Mark's Church.
It was the first of its kind for the Anglican church, a result of the social-distancing protocols and restrictions on public events imposed in March.
From his arrival, Mr Tyte jumped in to assist the Anglican church in becoming a more tech-savvy ministry — a necessity in the coronavirus pandemic.
“It has been a very strange beginning to our ministry here, but I have a strong background in online ministry, audio, and video production and so it has been a real blessing to be able to use my gifts and talents to support the Bishop and the other Anglican clergy,” Mr Tyte said. “It meant we were able to get up to speed with online worship and we have been able to do other things, such as produce an all-age video magazine.”
As Bermuda moves through the phases of the pandemic, the reopening of churches for collective worship is still a way away. Mr Tyte is looking forward to using the time to build relationships in his parish.
“We are very much looking forward to meeting people — sharing food, fun, laughter and the love of God. The warmth of the welcome we have received from everyone has been truly incredible. We are here to serve and I suppose that is the crux of it. We want to be a blessing to all — to be used by God for his purposes.”
He and his wife love the outdoors while he and his son are “bonkers about fishing”, Mr Tyte said. “If you would like to know about beatboxing, fishing, or God — or all three! — please do get in touch. I would love to hear from you.”
• Contact the Reverend Gavin Tyte at firstname.lastname@example.org