The grieving widow of Alan Greaves, a church organist who died after being attacked on his way to a midnight mass service on Christmas Eve, said today she had wept over the "evil that has been done".
Church community worker Maureen Greaves told the congregation of St Saviour's Church, High Green, Sheffield, that she had felt their love and support since her husband died. The 68-year-old grandfather was making his way to the church from his home a few hundred yards away when he was subjected to the brutal attack.
Mr Greaves, a lay preacher and organist at the church, was discovered by a member of the public but died from his injuries on Thursday night. During the service, Mrs Greaves told the congregation at St Saviour's: "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."
The Bishop of Sheffield, Steven Croft, attended the service and made an address in which he described the grief and shock felt by the community. "There is a sense of shock and a sense of outrage, not just in this community but across the whole city of Sheffield", he said.
"Alan was the victim of a brutal attack as he was on his way to church on Christmas Eve, 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."
He went on to speak of the love and support offered to the family and also appreciation for the medical teams who tried to save Mr Greaves's life. "And in the midst of all this, I am sure, many will be giving thanks for Alan himself, for all he showed us of God's grace and love," he said.
"There will be occasions in the future for many generous tributes to be given. Goodness is not as common as it should be and this community and this city have lost a shining light."
Afterwards he described the service as moving and said Mrs Greaves had been very impressive and courageous since the death of her husband.
Detectives investigating the case are still appealing for witnesses to come forward with any information about the attack. A man in his 20s and a man in his 40s, both from Sheffield, have been arrested on suspicion of murder.