Pastor Bill Snell from Columbus, Ohio, has called to our attention a major (eight-page) article in the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Field & Stream magazine featuring the story of Walter Witt, a Grace Brethren layman from the Meyersdale, Pa., Grace Brethren Church, who was accidentally shot and killed while deer hunting in 1974.
The magazine, which claims a circulation of 9.1 million readers, focuses on the events of that December, 1974 day when Witt and his two sons, ages 14 and 12, were hunting. The magazine says Witt, a ninth-grade earth science teacher and high school track coach, enjoyed hunting, but “his true calling was sharing his Christian beliefs.”
In fact, Witt was planning to speak the next day at a church in Maryland, and the article displays his sermon notes for his message, entitled “Heaven.”
In the 37 years since the accident, Witt’s two sons, the magazine says, “have spoken about their father’s death and their personal stories of spiritual renewal at churches and church=sponsored sportsmen’s dinners from the mountain hollows of West Virginia to the plains of Alberta.”
Although the sons have developed an extensive ministry stemming from the incident, including the writing and distribution of a tract entitled “Mistaken Identity,” the article says they had never returned to the woods where their father died.
Accompanied by a Field & Stream writer, the sons detail their efforts to locate the precise spot where the shooting occurred, and to re-create the events of that day.
Bill Snell, who pastored the Meyersdale church from 1960-1968, knew Witt well and had hunted with him. Robert Burns was pastor of the Meyersdale church in 1974, when the shooting occurred. The current pastor is Randy Haulk.