Friday, July 30, 2010

Update on Seth Wirt

Please continue to pray for the recovery of Seth Wirt, the seven-year-old son of Ohio ClearView church planters Andy and Trish Wirt from a home accident in which a couch fell on Seth and injured his face. Here is an update from Seth's father, Andy, at the two-week marker after the accident:

Two Weeks After...

My heart is full of thanks to so many of you who have posted notes, sent inquiries, called, visited, e-mailed, etc. to ask how Seth is doing. Thanks so much for your care and concern for our boy. One thing that has been such a blessing for Trish through this whole trial is to see how many people love Seth with us.

Please forgive me for being remiss in not responding sooner to notes asking for an update on Seth. I can't believe how busy the last two weeks have been. We've had overnight guests most of this time, have completely (that is probably impossible...but we sure have tried!) safety-proofed the basement where our kids play, spent more time at the hospital with Seth's surgery, etc. I've found that it was much easier to write when it was just Seth and me at the hospital. I could update Facebook and send e-mails while he was sleeping, etc... but now that we're back to more of reality... I can't keep up. Thanks for your patience. :)

Anyway- I continue to marvel at the sheer strength and resilience God has infused into Seth. I really believe it is miraculous. I thank God for it. Since the second day in the hospital, the only pain medication Seth has had are two doses of Tylenol (after surgery). My kid with a fractured nasal structure, stitches, swelling- the kid who had a 2-hour surgery on Tuesday- etc. keeps saying, "Why would I complain- I don't have any pain". I don't get it- except that God has taken it away and is giving him strength.

I'm also proud of Seth for his attitude. If he were to express himself, I think he would say that the toughest part of this whole journey is that his summer is completely interrupted. Due to the fracture between his nasal bone and his skull- he is at an increased risk for meningitis if he were to get an infection. This means no pool (dirty public places), etc. until almost when school starts (6 weeks from accident). He also can't run, jump, wrestle with Dad and his brother, etc.- all the stuff that a boy thrives on.

Fortunately, Seth loves crafts, art, Lego's, etc. so he has some things to keep him busy. Thanks to so many of you that have dropped off games or art supplies or Legos or video games- he has plenty to keep him busy. Although he has shed some tears at not being able to participate in some things Silas gets to do, Seth has had a real good attitude about his limitations. I know he is working hard to "see the glass half full" (my words).

Other physical stuff- Seth came through his surgery (last Tuesday- July 13) with flying colors. The Ocular surgeon installed a stint (small plastic tubing) in his left eye to try and allow the crushed tear duct there to heal. This will be taken out in 6 weeks (Seth doesn't know it is there yet- don't tell him! :) But, if you see him, look closely and you will see it (medical technology is amazing!). Praise God- the right one is functional and Dr. Foster felt it would heal on its own.

Following Dr. Foster, Dr. Tiwari (plastic surgeon) adjusted fractured bones in Seth's nose to try and reform proper alignment. He also opened up the wound on Seth's outer nose (skin) where a patch of skin about the size of a dime is missing. He placed a bandage and splint over this that is to stay on for a week (we go on Weds. to get it out). His counsel is that the skin will heal better on its own here than it would with stitches.

We feel very good about Seth's progress. His sense of taste seems to be back. He cannot smell (please pray for restoration). The scar above is right eye seems to be healing nicely. He seems to be dealing with these challenges pretty well emotionally. Our concerns now lie in how his nose will heal- inside and out. Please pray that the nasal bone will re-fuse with the skull quickly and well.

Please pray that the surgery would hold (Dr. Tiwari said that 50% of the time it is necessary to do a more serious surgery because a surgery like Seth had does not hold up over time). We're praying that this one sticks! :) Also, because we can't see how his nose is healing (scar/skin wise), we don't know what is happening there. We are asking God for grace to help Seth accept whatever is happening when we see the progress as the bandages are taken off in a few days.

Thanks so much for praying for Seth. God has been very good to us. He has given us grace and extended so much protection and healing to Seth. He has shown Himself and His love in so many wonderful ways through so many people. Our family has been overwhelmed with God's grace expressed through people that have shown love to us in so many ways. Thank you.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ray Feather Obituary

Ray I. Feather, 63, pastor of Grace Community Chapel in Mukilteo, went to be with the Lord on July 23.

Pastor Feather was born March 26, 1947 in Martinsburg, Pa. He attended Washington Bible College in Washington, D.C. where he met his wife of 41 years, Sharon Mae Benyack.

He had a passion for studying and preaching God’s Word. He served as a beloved pastor to many in his 45 years of Christian service. And he shared his love for his Savior with everyone he met.

Pastor Feather is survived by his wife Sharon; children, Scott (Jodi) Feather, Doni (Jason) Weimer, Athena (Matthew) Grady; grandchildren, Asia, Coleman, Raylee, Camden, Addison, Lucas and Dawson; sister, Peggy (Walt) Bell; nieces; Melissa and Elise and brother Rob Gordon.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Virgil and Betty Feather.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, July 31 at 1 p.m. at Alderwood Manor Community Church, 3403 Alderwood Mall Blvd. in Lynnwood. There will be a reception following the service.

Memorials can be made to Grace Community Chapel, 9800 Harbour Place, Mukilteo, WA 98275, designated for the Weimer Thailand Ministry. His daughter and her family will be serving in Thailand as missionaries.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Larry Smithwick's Son Drowns in Alaska

Word has been received in Winona Lake that Rob Smithwick, the oldest son of former Grace Brethren pastor Larry Smithwick, has drowned in the Kenai River in Alaska. According to reports, he slipped in while fishing and was not able to get out. They were not able to recover his body.

Rob and his wife, Jenny, have five kids: Amee, Robbie, Riley, Timmy and Johnny. Their oldest, Amee, just graduated from high school in May. Larry and Shari Smithwick and their grandson, Larry, will leave their current home in Ohio to go to Alaska as soon as they can get tickets. Jenny’s address is P.O. Box 4163, Soldotna, AK 99669. Prayers for the family would be appreciated.

An article from the Soldotna newspaper may be viewed by clicking here.

Richard L. Burch With the Lord

Eddie Mensinger has called to our attention that Richard L. Burch, 83, passed away Wednesday, March 10, 2010, at Grandview Hospital, Dayton, Ohio. He was preceded in death by his parents, Bessie & Raymond Burch and grandson, Conner.

He is survived by Marilyn Burch, his wife of 30 years; children; Kathy (Bill) Armstrong, Judy Burch, Cindy Fowler, Christopher (Rachel) Gulden, Claudine (Kirk) Waymire, Carlotte (Jeff) Gebhart & Cynthia (John) Shaw; grandchildren; Katelyn, Brandon, Jesse, Jacob, Jarrett, Justin, Ash, Brittany, Jeffrey, Johnny U& Lillian; loving mother-in-law & father-in-law, Dorothy & Shelby King; brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law and many other beloved family and friends.

Burch was a Grace Theological Seminary graduate (B.D., 1951), formerly senior pastor of the Brethren Church in Cuyahoga Falls and North Riverdale Brethren in Dayton; Associate Pastor at Salem Church of God; Interim Pastor for Ohio Church of God Ministries; outdoorsman, avid hiker, biblical scholar, outstanding teacher of the Gospel, marriage counselor, loving and fun father and grandfather.

Funeral services were held Monday, March 15 at Morris Sons Funeral Home in Kettering with Pastor Paul Strozier officiating. Interment at David’s Cemetery.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Pastor Ray Feather Reported to be With the Lord

Dennis Russell is reporting that Pastor Ray Feather (pictured), of Grace Community Chapel in Mukilteo, Washington, has gone to be with the Lord. Feather was recently diagnosed with a form of pancreatic cancer.

Pastor Nathan Zakahi of the Sunnyside, Wash., Grace Brethren Church, adds this note: "He was in the hospital getting a blood transfusion when the doctors came out and spoke with family and friends. Ray was diagnosed with cancer a few weeks ago and a letter was read this past Sunday to let his congregation know of his condition. Adenocarcinoma, related to pancreatic cancer. Doctors had given him a year with treatment if the cancer was localized. Ray was awaiting a ptscan to see if the cancer was indeed localized. Needless to say, his passing was a shock to us."

More details will be posted as they become available.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Betty Miller With the Lord

Word has been received in Winona Lake, Ind., this Tuesday morning of the passing of Betty Miller, wife of longtime Grace Brethren pastor Carl Miller.

Initial reports indicated there will be a private graveside service tomorrow (Wednesday), and a memorial service will be scheduled for later. Details and obituary will be posted as they become available. The Millers lived in the Chattanooga, Tenn., area.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pray for Betty Miller

Eddie Mensinger has relayed information that Betty Miller, wife of longtime Grace Brethren pastor Carl Miller, is in critical condition in a hospital in Chattanooga, Tenn., and has been taken off life support.

Your prayers for the Millers will be appreciated.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Pray for Andy Wirt's Son, Seth

Here, shared with his permission, is a post by Andy Wirt, Grace Brethren church-planting pastor from New Albany, Ohio, about an accident that occurred with his son, Seth (pictured), who is seven.

Dear family, friends, and ClearView family,

Many of you have heard a bit about the ordeal our family has been enduring the last 24 hours. Thanks for praying for us. Thanks to the many who have sent e-mails or posted kind words and promises for prayer on Facebook. We deeply appreciate it.

Yesterday, about 4 p.m, Seth got home from a camp he attended. I had been working in our basement to prepare it for laying carpet remnants. Foolishly, I set a couch on end and positioned it in such a way that I knew it would not fall on its own. As a father of two active boys... I should have anticipated what happened.

Within minutes, I heard screaming and saw Seth running up the stairs. I won't describe his condition--suffice it to say that it is a memory locked in Trish's and my minds that we can't dislodge. Seth had climbed up the back of the couch and it had fallen on him--his face/head taking most of the weight of the couch.

I knew this was 'way beyond our capabilities to take care of... so I yelled for Trish and asked her to call 911. It was the longest 10 minutes of my life. A combination of fear, regret, and grief settled in my heart. By God's grace, the EMT's took control of the situation and got us safely to Children's Hospital. It is a blessing to live in a city with a great children's hospital.

Last evening was a long one. We waited for several hours before a tentative plan of action emerged. Finally, Seth was taken for a CT scan that ended up revealing fractures to nasal bones that are pressing on his brain.

We were told of possibility of blood in the brain (not sure if all of this is medically sound, but this is what I remember). Another CT scan was ordered. It did show oxygen in the brain, but no bleeding. Apparently oxygen in the brain dissipates with 100% pure oxygen (by breathing mask) for a few hours. Seth did that.

After this, they sutured a deep cut above his eye and closed a deep wound on his nose. The challenges now are: CT scans have shown fractures in the nasal bones. Some need to be surgically repaired and some will be allowed to heal naturally. In addition, we're not sure if Seth's sense of smell can be restored. Also, the bony structure that supports/surrounds his tear ducts (running from eye through the sinuses) are fractured... so we're not sure about their functionality.

Bottom line is that it seems Seth may NOT have surgery this week. Instead, the last we've heard from a trauma/plastic surgeon (who will try to repair the interior of Seth's nose) is that they want to wait until the swelling (which is significant right now) goes down and then they will evaluate from there.

We are definitely looking at a surgery to restructure nasal cavities at some point. We're hoping that at that point, an opthomologic plastic surgeon can also be involved to figure out how to repair damage to tear ducts. etc.

There is a lot of good news--this could be much worse. Seth easily could have been killed or suffered much more severe injuries. All in all, we have much to be thankful for. Seth can see. He is in good spirits (except for the constant irritation of IV's, etc. and he is definitely in pain).

We are thankful for no indication of brain damage. God has been so good to us in the support of our biological families, our spiritual family, and friends in the New Albany area. We have been deeply touched by your kindness.

Please continue to pray for Seth. He has been such a brave young man. I'm not sure he understands the extent of injury to his face and nose (he has looked in the mirror--but I'm not sure how much has registered).

Please pray we get the best care possible. Please pray doctors would have wisdom about what to do and when (it has been difficult at this point to discern who is calling the shots and what attending physicians have been involved- we've seen a lot of residents). Please pray for full healing for Seth, internally and externally.

Please pray that God would give him special grace to handle whatever may come by whatever permanent scarring will ensue. In the short run, please pray that Seth can keep liquids down so he can move to real food to get off the IV to be able to go home. Pray also he'd be soon able to handle pain with non-IV pain meds.

Please also pray for Trish as this last day has been a significant strain on us. Obviously, we are concerned about her and baby #4- please pray she can get some needed rest, and peace of mind. I would ask for your prayers to know how to forgive myself for this oversight and know how to best love and lead my family through this trial.

This one of those situations where I think through all that I'm usually telling others in these types of circumstances. We know God is good. We know God is completely in control. We believe God was there with Seth during this accident and has been with him each step of the recovery process.

Yet, as any parent knows, when it is your own child lying in a hospital room, it is really tough to put your faith into action. I've found myself praying, wrestling with God, knowing that Seth is God's first--and that is the best place for Him to be. I know that Seth has Jesus in his heart and we'll rest in that.

UPDATE (to the update): I just talked with Seth's doctors. He will have surgery next Tuesday at 8a.m. In God's perfect plan, we had planned to be on vacation all next week. So, with that canceled, our schedules are clear to focus on Seth and his recovery. In this surgery, an OSU plastic surgeon will reform his nose, try to adjust the sutures on the laceration on his nose and a eye doctor surgeon will work with his tear ducts. Please pray about this.

Thanks so much for standing with us at this time. Please forgive me for not being able to keep up with voice-mail messages, e-mail and Facebook. But--keep your notes coming--I'll share them with Trish ( and they are a blessing.

With thanks,

Andy (for Trish, Seth, Silas, and Sara)

Saturday, July 03, 2010

New Holland Seeks Associate Pastor

Grace Family Churc
h, New Holland, (Lancaster County) PA is looking for a quality candidate to serve as a full-time Associate Pastor. His primary responsibility will be to actively guide and develop existing ministry teams while also helping to form and establish new ministry teams that will help the church fulfill its mission.

Special emphasis will be given to the further development of our family ministries, which seeks to help the church effectively partner with parents in nurturing their children’s faith. The Associate Pastor will serve in team with the Senior Pastor in the overall Pastoral leadership of the Church and will help to develop our volunteer leaders to enable the congregation’s ministry teams (including children and youth) to effectively touch our community for Christ.

A strong collegial relationship with the Senior Pastor is envisioned where through regular, weekly communication and planning, the overall needs of the church will be discerned and strategies developed to respond. While there are key areas of responsibility as outlined below, a broad engagement with the overall mission of the church needs to be embraced.

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES (with assistance from the Senior Pastor)

(A) Ministry Team Development
Assist existing Ministry Teams in order to help them grow in their effectiveness, while working with the leadership to develop and implement additional Ministry Teams (e.g. small groups) that will help our church accomplish its purpose.

(B) Family Ministry
Develop and implement “orange” strategies (see: “”) designed to help the church effectively partner with parents as the prime faith nurturers of their children, while helping new families connect and integrate into the life and ministry of our church family.

(C) Student & Children’s Ministry
Provide guidance and support to the volunteer leaders of our Student and Children’s ministries; discerning (with others) where these ministries need to be developed and giving leadership to evaluation, goal setting and strategic development.

(D) Administrative & Publication Tasks
Helping to develop and refine policies that will assist our church in its desire to be more effective, while also contributing to the design and publication of resources and materials that will keep our church family informed and challenged.

SECONDARY RESPONSIBILITIES (providing assistance to the Senior Pastor)
(a) Vision and Strategy Development
Assisting the Senior Pastor in developing and communicating the mission and vision of our church, along with the various strategies required to implement a united, deliberate ministry strategy.

(b) Preaching Preparation
Periodically assisting the senior pastor in fulfilling preaching opportunities as necessary. The pulpit ministry will continue to be one of the Senior Pastor’s primary responsibilities.

(c) Personal Counseling
Increasingly working with the Senior Pastor to provide sound, biblical counsel to those in crisis or seeking spiritual input or practical advice through personal counseling.

(d) Congregational Care and Contacting
Giving input and assistance to the Senior Pastor in communicating with our church family and providing genuine care through intentional life development and responding to specific needs.

Interested individuals should send a resume to: or mail to
Grace Family Church, Attn: Board of Overseers, 415 S Kinzer Ave, New Holland, PA 17557.