Anniversary service to be held for murdered organist

20 December 2013

CHURCH ARMY

Remembered: Maureen and Alan Greaves

Remembered: Maureen and Alan Greaves

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 attack.

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 for manslaughter.

"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 bruise."

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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 court.

"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."

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