As one of four children born to the Reverend Almon Oliver and Lillian Marie (Janzen) Birt, Dayton and his siblings grew up in the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. In fact, he was saved in 1976 under his father’s ministry at Liberty Christian PH Church in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. He preached his first sermon at age 16 and was ordained in the Eastern Virginia Conference (now Redemption Ministries) in 1987.
By a “chance” encounter, Dayton met and fell in love with the young lady who would become his partner in life and ministry. Lynn Lakin lived across the street from Liberty Christian Church in Greensburg. One day, following a breakup with her boyfriend, Lynn was sitting on her front porch moping, when a handsome young man drove up. Rather than going directly into the church, he walked across the street, introduced himself, and invited Lynn to attend a special service at the church that evening. She accepted his invitation. That encounter changed Lynn’s life on several levels. She accepted Christ as her Savior that evening and later married the man who was bold enough to invite her to church. Dayton and Lynn were married on September 6, 1980.
In his early ministry, Dayton served as associate pastor under the mentorship of his father while also starting a Christian School and daycare in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. In 1984, he chose to move to Virginia Beach to attend CBN University, now Regent University, where he earned a master’s degree. During that time, he also served as Christian Education Director at Norview PHC, later named Living Word Church, in Norfolk, Virginia. Later, Dayton became senior pastor of that congregation for twelve years. In 1998, he was elected as Conference Christian Education Director. He served in that role until 2007 when he was elected to his current role as Bishop and CEO.
During his pastorate at Living Word Church, Dayton established a 12 step recovery program and food ministry. As Bishop, he aided in the establishment of 15 Hispanic churches in the USA and assisted in establishing churches in Honduras, Guyana, and Ukraine.
Presiding Bishop A. D. Beacham, Jr., praised Dayton Birt’s faithful ministry: “I had the privilege of knowing Bishop Birt for over 40 years,” he said. “He had an engaging personality and bright smile. He served Jesus through the IPHC as a pastor, Conference Discipleship Ministries Director, and Conference Superintendent. He was particularly passionate about Christian education, and over the past two-and-a-half years, he led the IPHC in developing a ministerial student course designed with the 21st century in mind. He was a great encourager and faithful husband, father, and grandfather. The IPHC global family is grateful for Dayton’s life and will continue to remember his dear family in prayer.
Dayton is preceded in death by his mother Lillian Marie (Janzen) Birt and an infant sister, Caroll Marie Birt. He is survived by his loving and devoted wife of 42 years, Lynn Lakin Birt; three daughters, Carrie Poole and husband, Matt, Kristin Stone and husband, Sam, and Katy Yeatts and husband, Alex; grandchildren, Ainsley, Kaydence, Paisley, Sawyer and Lorelei; father, Rev. Almon Birt and his wife, Kathy; siblings, Darrell Birt and wife, Lisa, Debbie Prohaska and husband, Bill, Dawn Rose and husband, Scott; along with several nieces and nephews.
Dayton was a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan, but more than anything, he loved spending time with his family, and ministering to others. He never met a stranger and always found the best in everyone.
At the beginning of each year, Dayton would choose a word as his guiding motto throughout that year. In 2022, he selected the word, persistence, based on 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “Pray without ceasing.” As he battled pancreatic cancer, he also clung to David’s comforting words in Psalm 23: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and staff comfort me.” As he persisted in prayer, Dayton was often heard saying, “I will not waste this valley.”
A celebration of life service will be held at 6 p.m. on Friday, October 14, 2022, at Abundant Life Church, 6500 Middle Road, Prince George, Virginia, 23875. Live video stream of the service will be available for viewing online at www.ealvinsmall.com/obituary/Dayton-Birt. Interment will be private. The family will receive friends from 5–8 p.m. on Thursday, October 13, 2022, at Abundant Life Church.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests supporting a passion of Dayton’s, Redemption Ministries Summer Youth Camps, http://www.redemptionministries.com or by calling (804) 862-9201 for assistance. Funeral arrangements are being handled by the Colonial Heights Chapel of E. Alvin Small Funeral Homes, 2033 Boulevard. Online condolences may be registered at www.ealvinsmall.com.
–Shirley G. Spencer