From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Family Tragedy Strikes Adventist Community In Jamaica
08 Apr 2000 02:11:12
April 8, 2000
Adventist Press Service (APD)
Christian B. Schaeffler, Editor-in-chief
Fax +41-61-261 61 18
CH-4003 Basel, Switzerland
Family Tragedy Strikes Adventist Community in
Salem, Jamaica. Members of the Seventh-day
Adventist Church in Salem, Jamaica, are grieving
over the family murder of three girls on March 27.
In the early morning hours, a father attacked his
common-law wife and four children, killing three
daughters, Leisha Thomas (21), Lacey Thomas (11)
and Amanda Thomas (23 months), before setting the
house on fire and hanging himself. His wife, Ioni
McKnight, and daughter, Althea Thomas (15),
survived the attack, although both were seriously
All the children were members of the Adventist
church community in Salem, and their mother
attended occasionally. The father apparently never
visited the church.
"We are grieving over the whole situation," says
Pastor Leon Wellington, president of the Seventh-
day Adventist Church in the West Indies. "This is
an appalling tragedy and we wish it could have
been averted. We invite our world-wide church
family to pray with us for those who are grieving,
both the family and the church members who are
feeling this loss so keenly."
The local church congregation has launched a
recovery fund for the survivors and is hosting a
series of grief management and counselling
seminars, reports Pastor Anthony Gordon, director
of Family Life Ministries for the Adventist
Church's Central Jamaican Conference. Gordon is
also a qualified marriage and family counsellor
and is conducting the meetings.
"Last Sunday (April 2) the church was full to
overflowing for the grief management seminar,"
reports Gordon. "Members of other denominations
attended, and the whole local community is
involved. So many have been totally shocked by
this terrible event. We were pleased that the
surviving daughter, Althea, has now been released
from the hospital, and she was there in church
with us. Sadly, the mother is still in the
hospital. She was sleeping when the attack
occurred and was rendered unconscious. She has now
regained consciousness, but she is unaware of what
has happened. The family will be breaking the news
Speaking for the Adventist community world-wide,
Pastor Jan Paulsen, president of the Adventist
Church, expressed his deep sadness for what had
occurred and offered his sincere condolences.
"We are shocked and deeply saddened at the news of
this tragic event," he said. "At such times we can
only turn to our faith in God and trust in Him to
heal the wounds of pain and grief. Our thoughts
and prayers go to the family members who are
grieving and to the whole church and community in
Salem who have experienced such a distressing
tragedy." [Reporter: Jonathan Gallagher]
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