Rev. Ben Hardy and his wife, Debbie, pastor of Ashland Wesleyan Church in the Western Pennsylvania District, lost all their possessions in a tragic fire that totally destroyed the church parsonage on Saturday, May 14th.

Ben was napping on the living room couch while his wife was at the church working with some musicians. He was awakened from a deep sleep by the frantic barking of their beloved dog, Gracie. Hearing the snapping of the fire and detecting smoke, he at first moved toward it and was met by a wall of fire and smoke coming from the direction of the kitchen and garage. Making a quick move to escape on his hands and knees, he experienced some smoke inhalation and second degree burns on one hand, but got out with Gracie. The cause of the fire was not known, but of course, it is under investigation.

Afterwards, a small fire-proof safe was found that held their marriage license and some photos, and a leather-bound box containing all his sermons was badly charred, but the sermons were unharmed. Nothing else was saved. They stayed in a hotel until a family in their church offered accommodations. Pastor Ben commented that the move to their new quarters was the easiest ever, without even a suitcase. Unfortunately, they will not receive insurance payments to replace their furniture, clothing, and other personal belongings.

The Hardys have three grown children, two sons and a daughter, who were all visiting. Their youngest son is a student at Houghton. None were at the house at the moment. Three cars parked near the house were also destroyed.

Please pray for Pastor Ben and Debbie and their family during this traumatic time. Pray also for God’s guidance and help for the leaders and congregation of the Ashland Wesleyan Church as they work to recover from all of the loss and seek to minister to the Hardy family.

District Superintendent Rev. Randy Swink shared: “It seems almost a futile attempt to find the adequate words to express during this time of tragedy in the life of the Hardys and the Ashland congregation. However, although devastated, all involved are not desperate, because our hope remains anchored in the great Shepherd and Head of the Church, Jesus Christ! May his lordship and leadership guide and direct us all in the days ahead.”

Churches and individuals in the district are stepping up to provide help, as they can, for the Hardys. If there are other churches across The Wesleyan Church that feel touched by the need and opportunity to reach out to this long-time Wesleyan pastor, it would be a wonderful thing to do and a blessing!

According to District Superintendent Swink, any checks should be made payable to: Western PA District of The Wesleyan Church. They can be mailed to: District Treasurer, Mrs. Tammy Leonard, 264 Shawville Hwy, Woodland, PA 16881. The Hardys will be notified of the source of all gifts, unless it is requested otherwise.