Community gathers to remember Clare and Bethany Smyth after quad bike tragedy

Photo above – Clare Smyth and her two daughters Hannah and Bethany who were involved in a tragic quad bike accident at their home in Ballycastle

In the wake of the death of Clare (35) and Bethany Smyth (3), which occurred when a tractor collided with the quad they were riding on last Tuesday, minister Rev John Stanbridge told mourners today that “it is not the end for Bethany and Clare, for the faith in Christ has called and welcomed them home into everlasting life”, Adam Kula reports in the News Letter.

Rev Stanbridge was taking their funeral service at 11.30am at Ballycastle Presbyterian Church in north Antrim (amid ongoing coronavirus social distancing rules).

Those assembled were told: “All that has happened seems futile and pointless. Our minds are filled with questions, to which there appears to be no answers.

“So many things we do not know, so many things we do not understand. But there are some truths we do know.

“We know that the God who made us, is love and loves us; that He loves us always; that, through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, He has promised never to leave us, nor forsake us.”

He said the whole congregation “marvelled at this family’s love for one another” and Bethany and sister Hannah (aged five, who was injured in the crash) “often stunned us with depth of their knowledge of God word at such a tender age”.

He added: “As a church family we are so going to miss Clare and Bethany’s company.

“Their smiles and laughter, their faithfulness and witness amongst us and the many others ways, too many to mention that have added and blessed our individual lives and our fellowship.”

The service featured ‘My God is a great big God’ (Bethany’s favourite worship song) and ‘The Lord’s my Shepherd’ (Clare’s favourite hymn), and a reading from the Gospel account of Christ walking on water (Bethany’s favourite Bible story).

This part of the New Testament “teaches us where we should look to when the storms of life roll in”, the congregation heard.

The minister said: “In the days, especially after what has happened, it is vitally important that we keep our eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, no matter how difficult that is, for He is our Only hope!

“We walk by faith in Christ alone.

“We, if necessary, in difficult days like this, need to force ourselves, discipline ourselves, to read God Word.

“If we keep our eyes on Jesus, then the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.

“Secondly, in Chapter Five of his Gospel, Mark recalls a miraculous event where Jesus is sought out by Jairus, the synagogue ruler, to come and heal her and save his daughter from death.

“But some men arrive from the Jairus’ house to tell him it is too late; his daughter is already dead.

“It’s interesting what Jesus’ response to this news is: turning to Jairus, Jesus tells him, ‘Do not be afraid; just believe.’

“When Jesus enters that room where Jairus’ daughter lies,

“He says these words over her, Talitha Koum, (which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, Get up!’).”

The committal service for the pair, who were from the Gortconney region to the west of Ballycastle, took place afterward in the adjoining graveyard.

As well as Hannah, the pair are survived by husband and father Ryan.

The News Letter
Sunday, 17th May 2020