THE church community in Yate and Chipping Sodbury has offered support to the people of Thornbury following the death of their vicar.

Prayers were said at churches in both towns in memory of the Rev John Suddards, 59, who was found with multiple stab wounds at his vicarage next to St Mary’s Church last Monday.

Rev David Harrex, of St Mary’s Church in Yate, said Mr Suddards and his friends and family had been in the thoughts and prayers of his congregation throughout the week.

He added that the clergy team in Yate was reviewing its working practices.

Mr Harrex told the Gazette: "Clearly it is a shock and it has made us all think of our working practices at this time.

"It has made us very aware and focus on our own ministry and the way we are vulnerable. We have definitely felt more vulnerable in the last week."

He added: "Something like this just makes you check yourself. Our ministry holds a lot of one-to-one conversations with people and we are very aware of where and when we are meeting with those people.

"We do have to be careful when strangers come to the door. And we need to think about how we approach them, what we say to them and how we manage them."

Pastor Bert Weenink, from Tyndale Baptist Church based at Dodington Parish Hall, spoke with fellow Baptist ministers in Thornbury this week.

"We feel for those who are involved and for the whole community," he said. "It is so hard and difficult to understand. People in Thornbury feel unsafe and that is so sad."

Mr Weenink said he had been a pastor in Yate for 11 years and had never felt vulnerable.

"I think the Anglican church is very much more identifiable though," he said. "They often live in vicarages next to a church. I live in a private house and there is no sign above my door saying I am part of the church.

"I have never experienced anything untoward so I don’t feel vulnerable in that way."