CHURCHES in Bristol have been helping to support the family and
friends of the murdered teenager Becky Watts.
The 16-year-old disappeared last month, but police announced on
Tuesday that they had discovered body parts in a house in the
Barton Hill area of Bristol, where she lived.
St Luke's, a short walk from Becky's family home, was open to
the public on Wednesday and Thursday. The Priest-in-Charge, the
Revd Martin Gainsborough, said that he wanted to let the community
use the church as a "focal point" for their grief.
"People can light candles, reflect, write prayers or just be
quiet. It's striking how this hits people - it reminds them of the
preciousness of life and the fragility of life," he said.
Another church near by, St Ambrose's, has also opened its doors.
The Vicar, the Revd David James, said on Thursday that, after their
regular Wednesday morning eucharist service, there had been a
"steady stream" of people coming to lay flowers, sign a book of
condolence, or simply sit and reflect until late in the
"Yesterday, as the developments emerged as to the appalling
circumstances surrounding Becky's body, there was a lot of shock
and horror, hurt and pain," he said. "People didn't know what to do
with it. We want to do what we can to fulfil that role of being the
sacred space that people need at this kind of time."
Mr James said that Becky had previously attended the local
primary school, and a few years ago would have sung in an annual
carol service inside their church.
Becky's 28-year-old stepbrother , Nathan Matthews, was arrested
last weekend, before the body parts were found. Shauna Hoare, his
girlfriend, aged 21, has been charged with perverting the course of
justice. They have both been remanded in custody to appear before
the Crown Court at a later date.
The Bishop of Bristol, the Rt Revd Mike Hill, said on Wednesday
that, as a father of four daughters, he had been deeply affected by
Becky's disappearance, and struggled to understand how anyone could
"do such things to a young girl".
"I feel sure that people both of faith and of no faith will join
with me in wishing to support the friends and family of Becky Watts
in the light of the deeply shocking and unfolding news of her
death," he said.
"I am grateful to Avon and Somerset Police Service for their
investigation of these heinous acts, and hope that the truth of
what happened to Becky will lead to both convictions and
Mr Gainsborough said that he believed that, in these
circumstances, the Church should "come alongside people" rather
than "try to make sense of things". He continued: "But, as
Christians, we are also people of hope, and it is about trying to
find ways to gently suggest that."