THE church whose organist was killed as he walked to the
Christmas Eve communion service last year (News, 4
January), St Saviour's, High Green, Mortomley, near Sheffield,
will mark the anniversary with a special service at the site of the
Alan Greaves, aged 68, died from his injuries a few days after
the attack. In July, Jonathan Bowling, aged 22, who admitted
murder, was told he must serve a minimum period of 25 years. His
brother-in-law Ashley Foster, also 22, was sentenced to nine years
"It will be a proper midnight service, with the singing of
carols, prayers; and the Bishop [of Sheffield] is coming to do a
little talk," Mr Greaves's widow Maureen, a Church Army evangelist,
said last week. "I will then lay a wreath with the five roses on
that we had on Alan's coffin.
"We will remember Alan for a moment . . . then we will all light
candles and surely remember that the light of Christ really does
overcome evil, which is what we believe. We believe the Easter
story, and that Christmas leads into Easter; and so we truly do
believe that God will overcome the darkness, especially if we allow
it, and pray for it."
Last year, about an hour after Mr Greaves had set off for the
service, two police officers called at the family home to tell Mrs
Greaves that her husband had been attacked, and had "a very serious
injury to his head".
They offered to take her to the hospital, but, because she had
not understood the seriousness of the injuries, Mrs Greaves told
them: "Both of us are on duty tomorrow morning at the church . . .
so I'd rather go and pick him up."
At the hospital, the consultant warned her that the prognosis
was not good. She could see that "he wasn't going to live. His head
was horrendous, it had got cuts on it, and it was starting to
Christmas Day was spent at the hospital as the wider family came
to say their goodbyes. "It was a day when we literally never
stopped crying. . . But, suddenly, at around six o'clock, I was
alone with Alan. It was a time when I could sit and think and pray
before God about the situation that I was facing. I was pondering
that it was Christmas Day . . . the day when the Saviour had come
to save us from our sins. And not only to save me from my sins, but
to save the people who had murdered Alan from their sins."
Mr Greaves died a few days after the attack. Mrs Greaves's
decision to forgive his killers helped her to face the attackers in
"When I saw the two men, it was difficult. I looked across at
them and thought 'Gosh - you two have taken away the person I loved
most in the world; and you have taken away the person who loved me
the most in the world.'"
At Christmas, Mrs Greaves says, "We will pray for Ashley and
Jonathan and their family, but the rest of Christmas I hope to
celebrate with my family in the best way possible."