Hundreds attend service for murdered Thornbury vicar

Church service in memory of Vicar, John Suddards
Image caption About 300 people attended the church service in memory of the murdered vicar

Hundreds of people have taken part in a church service to mark the death of a vicar found murdered in his parish near Bristol.

The Reverend John Suddards was found stabbed to death in his vicarage at St Mary's Church, Thornbury, on Tuesday.

The Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Reverend Michael Perham, described the vicar as a "good man and a fine priest".

About 300 people attended Friday's service at Thornbury Baptist Church.

Church officials said they hoped the service would bring some comfort to the local community.

The bishop added: "Three days isn't very long and I think perhaps the community has moved on from its first sense of being utterly numb, stunned and silent into wanting to come together to encourage one another, to share with one another, to grieve together and to try and unite and express the unity of this community here in Thornbury."

'Shocked community'

He also paid tribute to the vicar who he said was a popular figure in the local community.

"The time will come to leave our tears behind and celebrate his life and ministry," the bishop said.

Image caption John Suddards was found stabbed to death inside the vicarage on Tuesday

"It is too soon for that. Tonight we are a shocked community upholding one another and seeking some peace in our hearts."

Mr Suddards moved to the Thornbury parish six months ago following a 10-year spell in the Diocese of Chelmsford in Essex.

Before that, Mr Suddards served at Great Yeldham parish, 20 miles away from Witham.

A 43-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and is being questioned by officers who have been granted a further custody extension to detain him.

Officers have said they want to trace a man wearing dark clothing who was seen sitting outside the church between 18:00 and 20:00 GMT on Monday.

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