The guitarist for popular Christian rock band Kutless will be hanging up his instrument after eight years of performances with the group.
Ryan Shrout announced on the group's website that he will be pursuing other interests at his hometown of Vancouver, Wash., located on the southern border of the state.
Specifically, he will be dealing with issues with his new daughter who was born with a medical condition in her eyes that needs his full attention.
"After much thought and prayer I have decided to leave my position as guitar player for Kutless," explained Shrout in a letter to his fans. "As many of you know my daughter (Ella) was born on January 12th of this year. What most of you do not know is that she was born with an eye condition called Coloboma."
The former guitarist has seen several professionals about the diagnosis, which affects the retina and optic nerve, and has found that there is no cure. The disease is uncommon, one in ten thousand children are born with it, and the doctor has told Shrout that Ella will be legally blind in her left eye with the right unknown.
"I find that it is more important for me to be around to support my wife and daughter in the unknown journey ahead," wrote the former Kutless bandmate. "I feel God is leading me home, to truly be the best father and husband I can be."
The guitarist also thanked all his fans for all their support, and wanted to write the letter to speak to them all.
The band has expressed no resentment for the departure, and understands why he must go. They have wished him the best.
"We believe that there is a time and season for everything, and we thank Ryan for his dedication to this band and the hard work that he has put into this ministry," explained the group's website. "We applaud his dedication to his family and God's calling in his life and we, as Kutless, wish him all the best as he continues to serve our Lord."
Shrout also stated that his exit from the music scene will most likely not be permanent. He feels that he is meant to do music ministry, and expects to return in some capacity in the future, whether it be with Kutless or a new venture.
"I know God is still calling me to music," wrote the ex-band member. "I just feel that right now I need to fulfill my calling as a husband and father."
He has also asked that his fans, who he thinks are the "best in the world," to pray for him and his family.
Kutless will begin running a promotion called "PRS Guitars invites you to Rock the Festival with Kutless" in the summer. In it, they will "audition" guitar players to play with them. Six aspiring guitarists will then get to perform with them during six summer concert festivals.
The winner will not get a permanent position with the band but will receive an autographed custom PRS Guitar.
On the web: Details, contest rules, and regulations at www.myspace.com/kutlessprscontest.