Death of Billy Taren

We were saddened to learn of the recent death of Billy Taren, an Elder in the Rory, Vanuatu congregation. Here is a report from Rex Morgan:

Lina and Billy

I met Billy in the 1980s while visiting Plain Truth readers in Vanuatu. Baptized in 1996, he became the prime mover in establishing a WCG congregation in Rory. In 1998 he donated land for a church building and arranged for the building of a guest house and church dining area.

As the chief of the village, Billy actively supported community relationships and projects. In 2016 he was awarded a medal by the Vanuatu government for his humanitarian work. He poured his life into the Rory church, leading it faithfully over the years.

Billy’s health declined recently and the lack of medical facilities made it hard for him to obtain needed treatment. The church was about to send him to Port Vila for medical help when he died at about age 80.

Billy is survived by his wife Lina, four sons and two daughters. His funeral was conducted by his son Marius, who is now fulfilling many of his father’s responsibilities in the church. As a faithful pillar of the Vanuatu church and a leader in the community, Billy will be greatly missed. Please pray for Lina and the family as they adjust to life without him.

Death of Diane Rosenthal

We were shocked and saddened in learning of the tragic death of Diane Rosenthal, age 76, wife of former GCI Pastor Jim Rosenthal (deceased). Diane died in an automobile accident on August 1 in Saratoga Springs, NY. She is survived by two sons, their wives, and a granddaughter (pictured at right with Diane).

Diane, who served WCG/GCI as a pastor’s wife until Jim’s death in 2006, was also a nurse—a job she dearly loved. She was known for her deep commitment to her patients, communicating with many of them well past their initial visits. One of Diane’s friends noted that she would want everyone to know this about her hope: “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere” (Psalm 84:10). Now Diane is in her true home with her beloved Jim.

Death of Susan Endres

We were saddened to learn of the death of Susan (Blackwell) Endres, wife of former WCG/GCI Pastor Gary Endres. Susan died on July 26, at age 60, following a nearly year-long battle with cancer. Here is a note provided by Gary:

Susan and Gary

Susan loved life, and the time she spent on earth was filled with love, creativity and hope. She was a friend to all and quick to smile and share a contagious laugh.

Born in 1958 to WCG Pastor Lowell Blackwell (now deceased) and his wife Margaret, Susan is survived by her husband of 35 years, Gary Endres, her children Brittany Hendrickson (married to Jack), her son James, her grandson Jax, along with her mother, brothers (Lowell Jr., David, Tim and Jim Blackwell) and sister Marcy DeShong as well as many nieces and nephews.

Susan was a Master Barber by trade for close to 40 years, a profession she dearly loved and excelled in. She served with her husband in the ministry of WCG in Pasadena and Glendora, CA, and Kingsport, TN for many years. She was always looking for a way to serve others and was a natural born leader. Her talents and interests were wide and varied from decorating cakes to motorcycling and scuba diving. She loved to travel and especially going to the beach.

Susan loved Jesus and was ready to be accepted into his arms as she died with her husband and children at her bedside. After sharing stories, laughing and everyone expressing how much they loved one another she simply said, “I’m ready to go now.” Within a half hour she passed in her husband’s arms, peacefully with no pain.

Cards to the family may be sent to:

Gary Endress
150 King Drive
Johnson City, TN, 37615

Death of Ken Swisher

We were saddened to learn of the recent death of longtime GCI pastor, Ken Swisher.

Ken Swisher

Several days before his death at age 89, Ken addressed members and guests at a party celebrating the 65th anniversary of GCI’s Big Sandy, TX, congregation (Ken had served as the congregation’s sixth pastor many years ago and, in retirement, had served the congregation as an elder for the last several years). In his remarks, Ken mentioned that he was ready to go and be with his Lord and Savior. He died at home on July 19. His funeral was held on July 22 with retired GCI Pastor Kelly Barfield officiating.

Born in 1928 in Tuscola, IL, Ken served honorably in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He then served WCG/GCI as a pastor for over 40 years, caring for congregations in Texas and other locations across the country. Ken loved riding motorcycles, target shooting, studying theology, donating his handyman and tinkering talents to those in need, and spending time with his family.

Ken was preceded in death by his wife Beverly Jean Battles Swisher. He is survived by two sons (Kenneth Swisher and Timothy Swisher), four daughters (Regina Montgomery, Loretta Hearn, Ruth Klock and Kathryn Vine); 14 grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren.

Cards to the Swisher family may be sent to:

Kenneth & Janalee Swisher
12131 CR 1206
Tyler, Texas 75703

Death of a 102 year old GCI member

We were saddened to learn of the recent death of Worley Berisford of Zanesville, OH. One of GCI’s oldest members, Worley died peacefully at age 102. Born in 1916 in West Virginia, Worley married Virginia (Ginny) Kurtzman in 1941. Virginia survives him.

Worley and Ginny

A veteran of the U.S. Army, Worley served in six World War II campaigns as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division. He was a school teacher for 80 years, not fully retiring until 91. He had a great passion for music; his favorite pastime was playing his fiddle while his wife accompanied on the piano. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather, and also a long-time member of GCI’s Cambridge, OH, congregation where he served as a worship leader and sermon speaker. Worley loved the Lord Jesus Christ with all his heart.

Cards may be sent to:

Virginia Berisford
c/o the Wood Haven Care Center
1020 Taylor St.
Zanesville, OH, 43701

Owen Willis

We recently requested prayer for Owen Willis, GCI Pastor in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (click here for the original request). Here is an update from Owen:

I am deeply grateful for all the cards and kind concern from all over the world regarding my eye injury. I am making good progress in a slow recuperative process. The eye will not see again (without an unprecedented miracle!) and the main decision up ahead may be whether to keep the eye or not. I have low-grade, bearable pain, need to sleep every five or six hours, and am extremely light-sensitive (necessitating wearing two pairs of sunglasses outdoors). I have struggled for many years with my eyes, and the vision in my “good” eye, which has had two corneal transplants, is quite compromised. I hope to return to church before the end of the year. My wife Tina has been an angel. Without her, I cannot imagine what the last month would have been like.

Cards may be sent to:

Owen and Tina Willis
5845 St. Margarets Bay Rd.
Head of St. Margarets Bay, NS B3Z 2E3

Pedro Rufián

We have requested prayer for Pedro Rufián, GCI pastor in Spain who is battling prostate cancer. Here is an update from Pedro:

Thanks to God I have good news to share in regard to my treatment. I recently returned from the hospital where I received the 6th, and last, chemotherapy treatment. Before that the oncologist told me that based on recent blood tests, the prostate cancer I was diagnosed with in January “is asleep and under control with no metastasis found.” I will need to continue follow-up controls, trusting in our Triune God who is the one who sustains our lives. I rest in him, having incredible peace of mind and comfort. Thank you very much for your prayers for me during this trying time.

Cards may be sent to Pedro and his wife Brigida at:

Mr. and Mrs. Pedro Rufián
Real 26

Death of John McKenna

We are saddened to announce the death of Dr. John McKenna, long-time Professor at Grace Communion Seminary and Ambassador University. John also served as theological advisor to GCI’s President, Joseph Tkach. John, who was born in October 1935, died peacefully in his sleep on May 23. Joseph Tkach shared this about John:

John McKenna

John was a mentor to me for many years, and I’ll greatly miss having him as my spiritual big brother. I witnessed first-hand his great joy for teaching Christ-centered, Trinitarian theology—especially in helping others see how the Old Testament points to Jesus. Just a week before he died, John told me he was resting up, so he would be ready to teach his next GCS course. I recall several occasions when a loved one had died, and John would say to me, “They are now in eternity with our Triune God, and there is nothing better than that reality!” Though I will miss him greatly, I rejoice that this is now John’s reality.

Cards may be sent to John’s wife:

Mickey McKenna
PO Box 3204
South Pasadena, CA 91031-6204

Owen Willis

Prayer is requested for Owen Willis, GCI pastor in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Owen had a freak eye accident recently, requiring emergency surgery. The doctor says he will do everything he can to save Owen’s eye. They are in a waiting period now to see how the eye responds. Cards may be sent to:

Owen and Tina Willis
5845 St. Margarets Bay Rd.
Head of St. Margarets Bay, NS B3Z 2E3

Death of Gary Shay

We were saddened to learn of the recent death of GCI member Gary Shay who worked in Information Technology at the GCI Home Office for about 28 years (he retired a few years ago, and his wife, Janet Shay, retired recently after working for many years in Human Relations in the Home Office).

Gary and Janet were attending their congregation’s Pentecost service when Gary had a massive heart attack. Surrounded by many brothers and sisters in Christ, Gary died at church while doing what he loved—serving the church by making sure his congregation’s audio and video experience was of the best quality. Cards may be sent to:

Janet Shay
941 Fuschia Avenue
Glendora, CA 91740-4833