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Church holds service for beloved pastor who was murdered while ministering to former inmate

Members at Connections at Metropolitan UMC church said it was their faith helped them to still wake up and praise this Sunday.

ATLANTA — It was a somber Sunday service at Connections at Metropolitan UMC Church, not one member would have ever imagined just days prior. But parishioners and leadership said it's their faith that is helping them stand strong and allowing them to still wake up and praise; something reverend Marita Harrell would have wanted.

Their spirits are full of faith but their souls bore human emotion.

"We were angry, we were hurt, we asked questions. But as believers, as children of God, we know what he is, as I said the great I am. And we just look to him," member Dorris Bolden said.

Beloved Reverend Marita Herrell was brutally murdered while ministering to a former inmate.

"If we ever needed the Lord before, we sure do need him now," one speaker said during the service.

During Sunday's service dedicated to Reverend Harrell, the congregation honored her nearly 30 years of service to the metro Atlanta community and the United Methodist churches all over Georgia.

"We’re going to honor her by praise and song, and just lift her up as a person because she truly was a child of God," Bolden said.

The congregation sang her favorite songs. Leaders from sister churches recalled how Reverend Harrell's faith was made evident in how she lived.

"Your servant Marita Harrell, thank you God for her service, thank You for her love. Thank You, God, for her commitment,'" a speaker said.

Another one spoke next saying, "Praise God for a life well-lived. Praise God for a faithful daughter praise God for a loving mother, a daughter, wife, and a minister friend."

Leaders reminded members that time heals all wounds.

The only cure for grief is time. Not one to forget but time to figure out, "How do we live now that our loved one is gone?"

And those closest to the reverend, cleave to their most fond memories.

"She had that smile, that radiant smile at all times. She believed in her mission and her goal was to reach out to people, all people," Bolden said.

Police said 27-year-old Christopher Griggs stabbed Revered Harrell to death at his home, while she was ministering to him. Police said he transported her body to a secluded area and then set her van on fire while she was inside. He remains behind bars charged with malice murder and arson.

Reverend Harrell leaves behind a husband and two daughters. Dr. Georgia T. French, President of Clark Atlanta University, which is affiliated with the United Methodist Church is offering Harrell's 18-year-old daughter a full, four-year scholarship that includes room and board.

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