June 28, 2020

A Pastoral Response to a Triple Murder in the Newbold College Area

Victor Hulbert, Trans-European Division, and Adventist Review

Seventh-day Adventist churches in Reading, United Kingdom, have posted a statement of condolence following a triple murder in the center of town on Saturday evening, June 20, 2020. Reading is less than a 20-minute drive from Adventist Church-run Newbold College of Higher Education in Binfield.

In a full statement shared on video, local pastor Trevor Thomas gives a message that reflects on a pastoral response to the tragedy.

One of those killed was James Furlong, a history and politics teacher at the Holt School in Wokingham, just a short drive from Newbold College. A number of youth from the Newbold community attend the school. They said that they held Furlong in high regard, and they were among those laying flowers at the school gates.

In the same video, Newbold Seventh-day Adventist Church senior pastor Marcel Ghioalda visits the school and reflects on pastoral care to students and the community. Daryl Gungadoo, a parent to one of the students, shares his feelings and suggests the way forward.

Full Statement Text

“The Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Reading would like to express our deepest condolences to the heartbroken families and friends of Joe-Richie Bennett, James Furlong, and David Wails fatally stabbed on Saturday, June 20 at Reading Park.

“Our hearts grieve with you, and we lift you in our prayers at this time. We recognize that the loss of a loved one is heart-breaking at any time; however, these tragic circumstances only intensify the pain of loss. We pray that God will walk with you through the grieving process and, in time, wipe away the tears from your eyes.

“As members of the Seventh-day Adventist church, we stand together with the community of Reading against such violence and condemn such acts. We pray that the love of God within the heart will overcome the motivations that lead to such attacks.

“We join with all well-meaning groups in Reading, including spiritual leaders, community leaders, and citizens of Reading, as we work together for a better future in which each person is treated with the equity, dignity, and respect they deserve.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Trans-European Division news site.