Church holds first Sunday service after pastor’s murder

Church holds first Sunday service after pastor’s murder
Published: May. 22, 2022 at 12:06 PM EDT|Updated: May. 22, 2022 at 11:00 PM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - A congregation was back to church Sunday after police say their pastor was stabbed to death by a man she was mentoring.

“We lift up today the joy, the light, and the ministry,” said a visiting bishop of United Methodist Churches.

Reverend Marita Harrell was remembered at the pulpit where she’d usually be preaching on Sunday morning.

“Such a dear friend and a dear pastor,” described the bishop.

DeKalb County Police say Harrell was murdered by a man she was trying to help. Christopher Griggs, 27, is charged with murder and arson after police say he stabbed the minister and then set her on fire. Griggs is in jail and will have a bond hearing in about two weeks.

Parishioners knew something was wrong when Reverend Harrell didn’t show up to Wednesday night bible study.

“We didn’t know. We just didn’t know. It was a shock,” said Doris Bolden.

Church leaders who spoke in service Sunday say Harrell was constantly ministering to people in need, no matter what their situation.

“It is a dangerous thing because forces of evil, forces of illness, forces of desperation…we know that the human heart can be very broken,” said the bishop.

“We were angry. We were hurt. We asked questions. But as believers, as children of God, we know that he is, as I said, ‘The Great I Am,’ and we just look to him from where our help comes from,” said Bolden.

And so the church keeps singing and praying, knowing Harrell is somewhere better than her pulpit.

“She’s in heaven now so she doesn’t have to deal with any more pain or things of that nature,” said Parishioner Al Johnson.