Dr. Roger Walworth has not always been a church minister of music. Soon after receiving his Doctor of Musical Arts in Trumpet, he taught on the university level. After several years in academia, Roger felt the nudge to enter fulltime music ministry, which he did at First Baptist Church, Ft. Payne, Alabama. A former college professor, Dr. Walworth brought his love of students and his interest in their wellbeing from college classroom to his position in the church he was now serving.

He immediately set out to build a strong youth choir, and he threw the doors of the choir wide open. Unlike some choir directors, he didn’t only go after the kids in the school choir or the marching band. He went after the athletes, as well, and also those who may not be plugged into school extracurriculars at all.

Roger has attended a number of YouthCUE leadership events over the years, always eager not only to share his work with his colleagues but also to learn from them. Roger has always had a superb balance between confidence in his vision, his ability to communicate with great effectiveness, and his eagerness to learn new things. Think about it … what more could you want from a leader: confidence, ability to effective communication, and eagerness to learn?

Roger also brings his youth choir to YouthCUE festivals. In 2015, he brought his group to the Nation’s Capital Festival in Washington where we always sing at the National Cathedral. His group was a stabilizing force musically as well as providing strong leadership to the festival in a variety of other ways. It was obvious to us on the YouthCUE staff that Roger is a superb communicator with his students and adult counselors. It showed in everything they did during the festival.

Now, please allow me to fast forward seven years to January 23, 2022. In a big NFL game, the 22-year-old rookie kicker for the Cincinnati Bengals, Evan McPherson, kicked a huge 52-yard field goal with no time remaining to defeat the Tennessee Titans, lifting the Bengals to the upcoming AFC title game. The win breaks the Bengal’s 34-year drought playoff games. Not since 1988, since long before Evan was born, have the Bengals gone to an AFC title game. Evan McPherson is the first player in league history to make four or more field goals in multiple games in a single postseason.

Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said of Evan McPherson, “We knew exactly what we had in Evan as soon as he walked into the building at camp. We saw how he carried himself … obviously, everyone at this level can kick a football through the uprights. But it’s how you handle things in the locker room that shows us that you have what it takes to go out there and make a kick like this and perform the way he did in a game like this.”

So … here’s the connection: Throughout high school in Ft. Payne, Alabama, Evan McPherson was in Roger Walworth’s church youth choir. Roger had a hand in training the confidence and commitment to excellence which Evan put into practice during his college career at Florida and now as a professional kicker. In one of the press features highlighting the accomplishments of this young man, there is a photo of Evan standing with him mom, Amber, inside the National Cathedral, both of them wearing red YouthCUE teeshirts. The photo was taken after the Festival’s grand concert. With the sounds of the glorious music still in their heads, mother and son smiled broadly for the photo.

Randy Edwards