Tanya Ehlers emphatically encouraged others to serve the Lord

DAGSBORO, De — Tanya Ehlers, wife of Dr. Andrew Ehlers, Pastor of High Tide Church in Frankford, Delaware, passed away on January 20 after battling stage 4 colon cancer for 38 months.

She served with Andy to plant High Tide, led the children’s ministry for 20 years, and developed a G-Force program that became a catalyst for reaching hundreds of families.

She was born into a military family in Charleston but grew up in Ocean City and Berlin, Maryland. She graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in Berlin In 1991 and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Carson Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee. She earned her Master of Divinity in Christian Education degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

Tanya lost her first husband, Raymond Worsham due to a brain tumor that took his life two and a half years after they were married. They had been students together at Carson Newman College and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and the couple served as missionaries to inner city Raleigh,

After Ray’s death, Tanya returned to seminary and moved back to Raleigh to continue their ministry she and Ray started with the help of her younger brother Sean Davis. It was here that she met her husband, Andy, who was also a student at the seminary. They were married in 2001.

Members of her family shared at her funeral, held at Crossroads Church. Tanya’s father, Terry Davis, with his wife Lynn, pastored Ocean City Baptist Church (OCBC) from 1981-2009. Her brother Sean succeeded his father as the pastor. Terry shared, “As a father, I could not have been more proud of her. She chose to follow Jesus, and in her journey, God led her to two Godly men in her life. One God took early on, and the other came along in that grief and sadness and became her best friend and partner in ministry.” Looking at Andy, Terry said, “Andy, I’m so grateful for you.” Terry called Tanya and Andy a “powerful and amazing team committed to reaching the lost for Christ.”

Looking out over the many attendees at the funeral service, Terry said friends have kindly expressed their sorrow at his “loss,” but upon thinking about it, he said Tanya is not lost. “We know exactly where she is and whose house she is in, and one day, we are going to go join her there.”

Tanya’s brother Dan Davis shared about having many fond, fun memories and the profound influence Tanya had on his life. “She convinced me to quit my corporate job, and I took a position at a local church as a middle school director,” Dan said. “Tanya could find a place for you to serve somewhere in this world.”

Lynn Davis, Tanya’s mother, served as a resort minister in Ocean City for decades. Many mission teams came to assist with the ministry, and Lynn said that Tanya learned from all of those teams. One of the resort ministries involved sharing with lifeguards. “Tanya would go out and talk to lifeguards, and they would say, ‘You don’t believe in the Bible, do you? It’s supposed to be a bunch of fairy tales.’” Tanya approached Lynn about having dinners and Bible studies for the lifeguards on Tuesday nights called “Search,” and they could ask any questions about Christianity. “So that’s what happened. She started that as a teenager.”  Many people attended those dinners and studies, and some became church members, Lynn said.

Raychel, Tanya and Andy’s oldest daughter, shared how her mother was always there for her and her family. “She encouraged memorizing scripture and reading missionary books.” One of Raychel’s favorites is a book about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. “She loved us,” Raychel said. “I know she’s home with her heavenly father. Her soul was pleasing to the Lord.”

Andy told how Tanya was saved at eight years old. After hearing her father share the gospel one day, she stayed in the car while her parents went into Save-a-Lot. “She wanted to stay there to think about what her dad said in his testimony. At that age, she prayed, and God came into her life.” Andy said he used to tease her about getting saved at a Sav-A-Lot. He told how Tanya said, sharing about that decision, “She said, ‘I knew without a shadow of a doubt I needed to be saved.’”  

Knowing her time was short, Tanya spent a half hour each day doing a devotion with each of their four children. Andy said she invested in them and prepared them for this day.

Andy came up with a slogan called “Tanya Tough” because of how hard she fought the cancer. Talking with her doctor, Andy asked if Tanya’s journey was normal, and the doctor said, “I haven’t had a patient with what Tanya has live beyond twelve months. It’s not normal. It’s beyond normal.” 

Lynn shared that when the doctor said to call the family in, Tanya opened her eyes and encouraged them all. She told her children, “you guys know where I’m going. I expect you to be witnesses to your friends and classmates.”

Tanya is survived by Andy and their four children Raychel, who is a sophomore at Coastal Carolina University; Camryn, a senior at Indian River High School; Leilani, a sophomore at Indian River High School; and Andrew, a seventh grader at Selbyville, Middle School.

Tanya is also survived by her parents, Terry and Lynn Davis of Berlin, Maryland; her brother Daniel Davis, his wife Emily, and their two children, Graham and Madeleine, from Knoxville, Tennessee, where they serve as youth ministers at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church; and her brother Sean Davis and his wife Anna and their three children, Charlotte, Gwyneth, and Josephine of Ocean City, Maryland, where he serves as the senior pastor of Ocean City Baptist Church.

A funeral service to celebrate Tanya’s life was held on January 27, 2023, at Crossroad Community Church in Georgetown, Delaware. The interment was in Dagsboro, DE.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to High Tide Church Building Fund (High Tide Church, P.O. Box 127, Dagsboro, De. 19939 or online at www.hightidechurch.org)

This obituary includes information from Franklin Chapel, with additional information provided by Sharon Mager, BCM/D communications specialist and editor.

Feature photo: Facebook (used in public obituaries)