Fox Lake turns to faith as it mourns slain officer

'Lt. Joe' remembered in Sunday services

As the Fox Lake community continues to mourn the loss of police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz and hope for the apprehension of his killers, it turned to its faith leaders for guidance on the first Sunday following his slaying.

Signs outside Edge Church near the village's downtown and Lutheran Church of All Saints just up the road displayed his name, with the latter saying he "touched many hearts & truly will be missed."

At Edge Church, where Gliniewicz had a personal connection, a large portion of the morning's worship was devoted to his memory.

"Joe was a wonderful man, and he really cared about this community," said the church's pastor, the Rev. Kim McCormick. "He took his job seriously, and every day he put his life out on the line."

Gliniewicz, 52, was shot to death Tuesday morning while in pursuit of three men he described as suspicious. Investigators on Sunday released no new information regarding the ongoing search for the trio.

In Fox Lake-area churches, the married father of four was being recalled for his dedication to the community, especially its young people.

McCormick said that when she first arrived in the community almost six years ago, Gliniewicz was one of the first people she met. Even before the church had a building, he was involved in an outreach program that addressed the need for a place where teenagers could go to have fun in a safe environment.

"So we set up this thing called Rock the Fox," she said. "It was where kids could come and they could play their music."

She also remembered his work with the Explorers, a group for youths interested in learning about law enforcement.

"There were many times that I would walk up this hill, and as I was walking up the hill, Joe Gliniewicz would be down at the bottom of the hill, and you would see teenagers coming with these cots, with pretend bodies on the cots, as they were running up the hill for police training," she said.

Those in the congregation testified to the strong impression made by Gliniewicz.

Garon Albrecht, Edge's director and minister of music, remembered meeting him walking around town and at community events.

"From the times that I met him, he was like a presence," Albrecht said. "I would feel safe when I was just next to him and talking to him. He always had good things to say and he loved this community."

Edge Administrative Assistant Kimberly Mate knew him through her work for the village's finance department.

"Even though his stature wasn't very big, his presence was larger than life," she said. "He had this energy he gave you. You did feel safe when he was around."

She remembered his quirky side, such as responding to "Good morning. How are you?" with "Vertical and caffeinated." When asked how his children were, he would say, "Number two loves his job. Number four won't drive. I don't understand these kids."

At Fox Lake Community Church, the focus during Sunday's service was on the theme of justice.

The Rev. Wayne Christensen referred to the largest manhunt in Fox Lake's history, saying, "From one perspective, I think we could call this a massive manhunt for justice."

Christensen said he would like to tell the congregation, the Gliniewicz family and friends, "One way or another, justice will be served."

However, he also emphasized love as well as justice.

"We live in a culture that says, 'I don't get mad. I get even.' Or, 'If you kill one of ours, we'll kill two of yours'," he said. "The question is how we can stop this downward spiral? And the answer is by trusting in God's impeccable justice, in which no one will be able to escape. This means that living by faith enables us to forgive all people and to love our enemies. And it keeps us from becoming bitter, resentful and angry."

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Fox Lake police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz Courtesy of Fox Lake Police Department
  The sign outside the Edge Church in Fox Lake references "Lt. Joe," slain police Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz. Steve Zalusky/
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