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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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N.Y. woman killed after ELCA workshop

Meseratch Zecharias, an active member of Atonement Lutheran Church, Syracuse, N.Y., and a mission interpreter for the Upstate New York Synod, died Feb. 10 after being stabbed the night before. She was 51.

Her son, Sehul Tareke, has been charged with second-degree murder. Zecharias had just returned from an ELCA stewardship leadership conference in Chicago the night she was killed.

According to Nelson Gaetz, pastor of Atonement, the phone rang almost constantly for days afterward as members asked to participate in planning the funeral.

"We're doing what we do with every death here," Gaetz said a few days after Zecharias' death. "The funeral celebration was a communal event with a large part of the church community participating in the preparation, celebration and follow-up. It became an important grief work for people to be involved."

The day after the funeral, by coincidence, the Sunday seminar at Atonement was based on the book Why Bad Things Happen to Good People, which Gaetz said was a good springboard for members to talk about their loss.

Zecharias, who was born in Ethiopia and came to the United States in 1972, served as a librarian at Syracuse University. She held a master's degree in library science and one in international relations.


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