New Life Presbyterian Pastor Mark Moser thanked attendees for coming “to bear witness to her life, so Grace Anastasia Packer may not disappear.” “Today we celebrate Grace, to remember her and honor her and cherish who she was,” Associate Pastor Marc Davis said. “We need to look for words together … words that are true and do some justice to what has happened.” It’s “an occasion on which words fail us,” he said. “We know what has happened,” and “on some level we wish we could unknow,” but “we choose not to look away.
ABINGTON, PA – Mourners filled the seats and lined the walls at New Life Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Glenside Monday to celebrate the life and mourn the unspeakable death of Grace Packer.
As “Wind Beneath My Wings” played in the background, several hundred members of the community, along with some members of her family, filed by a photo display of the Abington girl.
Most attending the hour-long memorial service — organized by five Abington women whose children attended the same school as Grace — had never met the girl and knew her only from the news surrounding her murder. The teen’s dismembered body was discovered by hunters in Luzerne County Oct. 31, more than three months after she was reported missing.
Grace’s adoptive mother, Sara Packer, and her mother’s boyfriend, Jacob Sullivan, have been arrested on charges related to the sexual assault and murder of the girl. Both are being held without bail in Bucks County Correctional Facility.
The Jan. 16 service was meant “as a way to give Grace a proper home going service,” Andrea Adams, one of the five organizers, said prior to the event. Adams set up an Abington Loves Grace Memorial Fund gofundme page (gofundme.com/3595tew), and she and the other four women — Nadine Barnett, Jackie Horst-Forbes, Jen Meixsell and Jackie Schwanbeck — made arrangements for the memorial service.
Adams said at the service that at the urging of her son, a friend of Grace’s, the idea for a memorial service was born “to make sure Grace was remembered for the person she was and not the horrible way she died.”
The women lit four candles, each with a meaning Adams explained.
The first was for grief — “the pain of losing you is intense”; the second for courage “to change our lives” — a Gracie’s Wings Foundation is being established “to make sure children are taken care of … her name will be remembered because she made a difference”; the third in memory “for the caring and joy you gave us”; and the fourth “for our love that your light will always shine.”
“We will make sure no other child in the Abington community will ever be forgotten again,” Adams said, adding, “Rest in peace, Grace.”
New Life Presbyterian Pastor Mark Moser thanked attendees for coming “to bear witness to her life, so Grace Anastasia Packer may not disappear.”