North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

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January 14, 2013

NJN/am for Monday, January 14

Good Monday morning, as a congregation struggles through tragedy…

Weather: Winter washes back into town. The rain continues again today, but now temperatures have plummeted. Gone are highs in the 70s; now we are stuck in a pattern of nearly-continuous rain, with temperatures both day and night staying in the lower 40s, maybe dipping into the upper 30s in spots. This pattern continues through Tuesday night.

Pastor charged with murder. The Rev. Dr. Terry Greer, senior pastor of Gardendale-Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church, has been formally charged with the murder of his wife Lisa, and the attempted murder of his daughter Suzanna in last Thursday’s incident at the church parsonage in Mt. Olive. In a press conference Friday afternoon, Gardendale Police Chief Mike Walker said that his investigators believe Rev. Greer shot his wife, and then his daughter wrestled the gun from him and ran away; she also sustained gunshot wounds. The pastor then tried to stab himself with knives, but police arrived in time to stop and restrain him. Lisa Greer died just after midnight on Friday morning; Terry Greer remains in UAB Hospital, while his daughter has been released. Upon his release, Terry Greer will be taken into custody and face bond of $135,000.

“God is in the boat with us.” As the congregation of Gardendale-Mt. Vernon met in worship for the first time since Thursday’s shooting, the presiding bishop of the North Alabama Conference tried to comfort grieving parishioners. The Rev. Debra Wallace-Padgett took her words from the story in Mark chapter 4 of how Christ spoke calmness to the stormy waters of the Sea of Galilee. The conference has brought in a counseling team to help members cope with the tragedy; they will continue their work at the church today. In a press conference after the services, Wallace-Padgett turned aside questions about whether Rev. Greer had any wrongdoing at the Gardendale church or at his previous appointment in Decatur, saying only that the pastor was in good standing with the conference. The bishop also said that Greer’s transfer — in effect a pulpit swap with Dr. Rudy Guess — was anything other than the denomination’s normal century-old practice of moving pastors around to different appointments periodically.

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