A Community Is Heartbroken After Beloved Atlanta Pastor Was Killed By Man She Mentored - Newsonyx

A Community Is Heartbroken After Beloved Atlanta Pastor Was Killed By Man She Mentored

Christopher Griggs allegedly stabbed and set her on fire.

An Atlanta pastor’s body was found, and police say her murderer was a man she mentored.

Rev. Marita Harrell, 57, was a senior pastor at Connections at Metropolitan United Methodist Church.


According to the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department, she was found with stab wounds from a kitchen knife and had been set on fire. Deputies arrested Christopher Griggs, 27,  and charged him with murder and first-degree arson. Griggs is being held without bond at DeKalb County Jail.

According to CBS 46, Griggs “stabbed Harrell in his residence in the 1300 block of Panola Road on Wednesday. He then moved her body to the 1600 block of Coffee Road.”

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Rev. Harrell was a member of Central UMC for over 25 years before she became a pastor.

According to the church’s website, The mother of three worked as the Inbound Call Center Manager and Diversity Training Facilitator for 22 years at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper.

The community and members of the church are heartbroken.

Rev. Fleming Thompson Jr., the senior pastor of Rivertown United Methodist Church, where Harrell served from 2016 to 2018, said,

“I know the love Rivertown has for her, and the love she has for Rivertown. We are asked to be in prayer, especially for her husband and daughters.”

Vincente Scott, a close family friend said, “At a spiritual level you’re asking God, Why? What? Why her? She was doing your work.’”

“If you knew her, she was offering advice, offering encouragement,” he continued. “The world has missed a great contributor to the civilizing process. If anything else, Marita was about improving individuals and improving society.”

Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson of the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church wrote a statement saying, “I am broken-hearted since being informed of the death of Rev. Marita Harrell. It is a blow to our clergy family, especially since it appears she died at the hand of one she was helping. Marita was a friend and a shining light among us. I pray for her family, her church, and all who loved her. I am grateful that the Lord she represented so well was with her in all things and accompanied her to her eternal home. May His Spirit comfort those of us who remain.”

We are sending our deepest condolences to Harrell’s family and community.

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