Endeavor News

Not losing faith

The Rev. Evon Lloyd

The Rev. Evon Lloyd

National tragedy strengthens church’s resolve to carry on

Many in the region were still reeling with disbelief and pain when the horrifying news came last Friday that another senseless killing, this one on a much larger scale, had taken place in a small American town.

Just 12 days after church organist Darlene Sitler was murdered during the Dec. 2 Sunday service at Coudersport’s First Presbyterian Church, word spread across the nation of a mass shooting in Connecticut that left 20 small school children and six adults dead.

On the heels of the local tragedy, the massacre in Connecticut has added to the challenge facing those who were so intimately affected by the loss of a beloved teacher, church member and friend.

Many are fifinding their will in their faith.

“God’s love is greater than any evil that can be perpetrated,” said the Rev. Evon Lloyd, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Coudersport. “It is present in the church and it is present in the world.”

She said that the recent tragedy in Connecticut has strengthened the resolve of the church family and has reignited the compassion being shown to her, the congregation, the church and the community.

“What’s happening in Coudersport — the outpouring of love and care in so many different ways — is phenomenal,” she explained, noting that cards and letters still arrive daily. An example is a letter from Coudersport Mayor Wick Furman, who wrote a personal message of support to the congregation.

“The show of love even goes beyond Coudersport; it’s been global from other brothers and sisters around the world,” Rev. Lloyd said. “The goodness people have shown has been such a tribute to (Darlene) and that’s so much bigger than the awfulness.”

While members of the First United Presbyterian Church continue the healing process, the criminal prosecution of the killer, Sitler’s ex-husband Greg Eldred, is underway on multiple fronts.

Eldred, 52, faces fifirstdegree murder charges and other counts. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 15 before District Judge Annette Easton of Coudersport. District Attorney Andy Watson and investigators remain tight-lipped about his motive and the connection between an FBI raid of Eldred’s home on Dutch Hill Road and his actions of Dec. 2 during a worship service at the church.

Friends, colleagues and students attended a standingroom only memorial service for Darlene Sitler last Saturday at Northern Potter High School auditorium. Sitler, 53, was an effective and respected music teacher at the district’s elementary school.

“Darlene lived a life fifilled with enthusiasm, dedication, patriotism, zeal, caring and compassion,” said a colleague, Wendy Hamilton. “She was quoted as saying she ‘loved her simple little life.’ Now that I look at all of you and think about her, it is obvious that her life was anything but simple and little.”

Rev. Lloyd reviewed Sitler’s evolution from the church’s organist and music director to an active congregation member who lived her faith.

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