The Memphis, Tennessee, community is mourning the death of 34-year-old Eliza Fletcher, a jogger who was kidnapped last Friday (September 2) and allegedly murdered. After an intensive search, her body was found Monday, and a suspect is now in custody.
Fletcher was a wife, mother of two, kindergarten teacher, and active member of Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis. A graduate of both Baylor and Belmont universities, she was the granddaughter of a local billionaire businessman and philanthropist.
An avid runner, Fletcher was abducted about 4:30 last Friday morning near the University of Memphis campus. Her husband called police when she didn’t return home. In a statement, Fletcher’s family says they’re “heartbroken and devastated by this senseless loss.”
Eliza Fletcher’s Pastor: ‘The Prayer Is Mostly for Mercy’
Hours after Eliza Fletcher’s abduction, her church went on Facebook Live with a call for prayer and a hymn for “all who are struggling this evening to find the words to express their cares, concerns, and emotions to the Lord on behalf of the Fletcher family.” A soloist accompanied by piano sings “Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul,” which includes the lines: “On Thee, when waves of trouble roll, My fainting hope relies.”
In the post, the church cites Psalm 46:1 and writes: “People of God, His mercy seat is open still, and He attends the mourner’s prayer. Let us continue to breathe our sorrows to Him and wait beneath His feet—He is our only trust.”
After Fletcher disappeared, Second Presbyterian opened its doors for prayer. “In our sanctuary, there are people surrounding the family,” said senior pastor George Robertson. “They just came immediately, as soon as they heard, because we’re a close family.”
While the search was underway, Robertson told reporters they were hopeful but realistic. “We’re not pollyannaish,” he said. “But we are praying for mercy, and I think that’s the prayer. The prayer is mostly for mercy.”
The pastor describes Fletcher and her husband, Richard, as “both very active and great leaders in our congregation.” Both are “inspirations in the sense of their zest for life and love of running and athletics,” he adds. “But what’s most important at this time is they have a very deep and profound trust in Christ, who they have leaned on throughout their lives and who has made a real significant impact on each of them personally. That is Ritchie’s trust right now.”
After Fletcher’s body was found and identified, the church posted: “We’re seeking shelter in the Father of mercies & the God of all comfort whose Son is the blessed hope of the resurrection & will at the Great Day heal us & our world.”