Raymond "Ray" Ian Eugene Hylton g86


When Ray Hylton '86 won a Jamaican Youth For Christ song-writing contest and a free subscription to Campus Life, he saw an ad in the magazine about a "Bridge to Ministry." Since pastoral ministry was already a life calling, Ray applied and was accepted, leaving his island home for studies at Fort Wayne Bible College (FWBC). Ray never dreamed that when he did so, he would also become a varsity athlete, still less the school's first two-sport All-American.

As a freshman at FWBC, Ray began by playing for a soccer program that was just in its second year (1981). He led the team in scoring, and earned North Central Christian Athletic Conference (NCCAC) All-Conference honors along with teammates Jim Hughes and Steve Schlatter. The team, coached during that inaugural era by Denny Williams, went 5-7-1.

Ray added basketball to his regimen (1981-1982) after Coach Steve Morley asked him to join the squad. A raw talent, Ray still managed to score 290 points (13.8 avg.) and pull down 251 rebounds (11.9 avg.) in 21 games, as the team struggled to a 7-15 record. His efforts led to NCCAC All-Conference honors in that sport as well. Ray had led the team in rebounding and had a team game high of 22 against Cincinnati Bible Seminary.

The next fall (1982), Ray again juggled two sports. The soccer team welcomed the incomparable Graham West; while Ray was also glad to now have fellow Jamaican Donovan Coley as a teammate. Together the squad posted its first ever winning record, 9-6-1, and made it to the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) District tournament. Ray garnered All-District honors, along with Jim Hughes, who led the entire country (NCCAA) in assists.

During Ray's second year in basketball (1982-1983), he was coached by two one-year temporary replacements, Kent Fishel and Mick Mills, as Coach Morley was on sabbatical. Ray again led the team in rebounding with 235 (12.3 avg.) and had a team game high of 21 against Concordia Lutheran College. His scoring improved too and he poured in 354 points (18.6 avg.) in 19 games as the team ended with a 10-13 record, winning five of their last six games. Ray won NCCAA Division II All-District honors in basketball to match those he had earned in soccer.

Ray played his third and final year of collegiate soccer in the fall of 1983. The team went 12-5 and Ray again had an outstanding season. Both Ray and Graham West were named to the NCCAA All-District and NCCAA All-American teams, the first ever All-Americans in soccer from FWBC. Graham was named to the second team, while Ray made honorable mention. This was a truly remarkable achievement, as the NCCAA soccer program did not yet have a special division for Bible colleges.

During Ray's junior year in basketball (1983-1984), he emerged as the dominant player on the Falcon squad, leading the team in overall scoring (494 pts./20.5 avg. over 24 games) and rebounding (357 rebs./14.8 avg.), with team game highs of 32 points against Cincinnati Bible Seminary and 25 rebounds against Grace Bible College. The team had its best record in years, 15-9, that despite being down to six players at one point mid-season. Ray grabbed a whole series of awards, including Falcon Tournament Most Valuable Player (MVP), Falcon team MVP, NCCAA Division II All-District, and NCCAA Division II All-American, just the third All-American basketball player in FWBC history, and the first ever in two sports.

Ray's final year of athletic eligibility (1984-1985) was focused on basketball, where he again led the team in scoring (466 pts./21.1 avg. over 22 games) and rebounding (232 rebs./10.5 avg.), with team game highs of 35 points against Moody Bible Institute and 18 rebounds in another game against Moody. Ray also set an amazing Falcon season field goal shooting percentage record of 64.3%. The team pulled out another winning record, 12-9. Ray was once again voted Falcon Tournament MVP and Falcon team MVP, and once again selected to the NCCAA Division II All-Regional (formerly District) and All-American teams.

So, Ray finished his FWBC Falcon men's basketball career with 1,604 points (18.6 avg.) and 1,075 rebounds (12.5 avg.) in just 86 games. He was a two-time, First Team All-American in basketball and the first two-sport All-American in FWBC history, a feat never matched on the men's side.

But Ray did not come to FWBC to make a name for himself in athletics; he came to prepare for a life of Christian ministry. That year, he would be asked to speak in chapel, and in 1986 he would finish his Bachelor of Arts in Pastoral Ministry at Fort Wayne.

Ray has pursued his passion for ministry ever since, serving as a pastor while continuing his education to the highest levels. Ray earned a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry from Huntington University Graduate School of Christian Ministries in 1992, a Master of Divinity from Duke University in 1997, and a Doctorate of Ministry from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 2004.

Having accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior in 1977, Ray is "humbled by the thought that God in his mercy called me [Ray] out of darkness into his marvelous light." Fully aware of his need for God's grace, Ray holds onto Ephesians 2:8-10  "And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast . . ." as a reminder of that love. Ray is deeply committed to a life of prayer, study, and spiritual disciplines. He is actively seeking to "do all things to the glory of God." His aim, at life's end, is to hear God speak over him, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Since 2001, Ray has served as Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in New Castle, Pennsylvania. His leadership extends well beyond his local congregation, however, as he is also Moderator of the Shenango Presbytery, a board member of the Caroline Knox Foundation, a board member of the LATCOM-Bolivian mission agency, a Congregational Coach in the Partnership for the Missional Church, which is designed to help both churches and their pastors discover and deepen their congregational mission, a national board member of Presbyterians for Renewal, and a seminar leader in the Workshop for Biblical Exposition.

Ray and his wife, Judith, are proud parents of three children: Judene (23), Raymond (21), and Joel (14).