MESSAGES of support have been sent from across the country to the family of murdered organist Alan Greaves, the Bishop of Sheffield told the congregation of St Saviour’s Church in High Green.
“There has been an outpouring of prayer and support I know from neighbours and friends,” said the Rt Rev Dr Steven Croft. “People far and wide have sent messages of support to the church here, including other organists and readers.
“That support will continue and will need to continue into the coming years as Maureen and the family struggle to come to terms with what has happened.”
Mr Greaves, a 68-year-old retired social worker and lay preacher, died in hospital three days after he was attacked on Greengate Lane, High Green, on Christmas Eve.
The grandfather, who was married to Church Army evangelist Maureen, was on his way to a midnight service.
In a sermon at the church last Sunday, Dr Croft said: “There is a sense of shock and a sense of outrage, not just in this community, but across the whole city of Sheffield.
“Alan was the victim of a brutal attack as he was walking to this church to bear witness to his deep Christian faith. There will be immense grief for those who knew Alan well, which includes many in this church and community.
“There will be a fear that such a thing could happen, apparently to anyone. There will be anger and all kinds of questions and real pain in our hearts today.”
Dr Croft spoke of the “immense appreciation” for the medical teams who fought to save Alan, for the way the police have pursued their investigation and for those who have come forward with information.
“Maureen has said very clearly and powerfully that she longs for justice not for vengeance, again bearing witness to her own deep faith in the midst of the sharpest agony of her life.”
He urged: “In time of crisis, hold fast to one another. Hold fast to your faith you have been given. Turn your anger into action, your grief into giving and your tears into services.
Mrs Greaves told the congregation: “I won’t be able to contact you over the next few days, but I want to thank you for the support you have given me. I have prayed constantly for Alan and I know you have too.
I have not stopped crying for him and I know you have not stopped either.
“I have wept over the evil that has been done. I have prayed for you and I know you have prayed for me. You were Alan’s Christian family and he loved belonging to this church. I have felt your love towards me.”
As well as helping at St Saviours, Mr Greaves played the keyboard for St Paul’s Church in Wordsworth Avenue, Parson Cross, helping to run an after-school group called Paul’s Praise along with his wife.
A warden at the church, who did not want to be named, said: “People are so heartbroken about what’s happened.
“I couldn’t believe it at first. He was a very inoffensive and gentle man. Alan and Maureen were such a devoted couple, they never went anywhere without one another.”
Two men, one in his 20s, the other in his 40s, arrested on suspicion of murder have been released on police bail.