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19 July 2013

Widow forgives husband's killers

Widow forgives husband's killers

Church organist Alan Greaves’ widow, Maureen Greaves, has said she has no hate and unforgiveness for his killers. The long-serving Church Army evangelist insisted she would be praying for those convicted and that she hoped that "God’s great mercy will inspire them to true repentance".

Alan Greaves, a 68-year-old church organist, was violently attacked on Christmas Eve on the way to midnight communion at St Saviour's Church in Sheffield.

Ashley Foster, 22, was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter at Sheffield Crown Court and Jonathan Bowling, 22, has already admitted murdering Mr Greaves. Both men were sentenced today.

In an interview on Daybreak Maureen talked about forgiveness being what Alan would have wanted: “I have never found forgiveness easy but during our marriage we have worked together on forgiving people and finding grace through God to forgive people. He [Alan] had this wonderful statement ‘don’t give yourself permission to go down this road’.

“When I was by his bedside on Christmas Day I looked at him and I knew he would be saying: 'Come on Maureen, you have come such a long way, don’t slip back into hatred and unforgiveness.' I held his hand and I gave the men into God’s hands and asked God to deal with them and to give me the grace to truly forgive. During the six months of this journey I have constantly had to turn back to that prayer to keep on forgiving them.

“Alan died on Christmas Eve and only a few minutes away from a service that he was going to rejoice that the saviour had come. For Christians we believe that the saviour of the world had come to forgive people’s sins… As Jesus forgives us he asks us to forgive others. It is truly through the grace and love of God that I have been able to forgive Ashley and Jonathan and continue to forgive them.”  Watch the full Daybreak interview.

Church Army chief executive, Mark Russell, said: "All of us here at Church Army have been shocked and devastated since finding out about Alan's murder on Christmas Eve. 

"However, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Maureen, who over the past months has shown such enormous courage and faith through a really dreadful time. She has been an inspiration to the whole world and everyone at Church Army loves her and is so proud of her.

"It has been a privilege to be with her and support her during the trial. I'd also like to thank South Yorkshire Police for the way they've helped Maureen through this complicated legal process."