The widow of Alan Greaves, who died after being attacked on his way to a Christmas Eve midnight mass, said she had not stopped crying over the "evil that has been done".
Church community worker Maureen Greaves thanked the congregation for their support at the couple's church in Sheffield where Mr Greaves had been due to worship when he was assaulted.
The 68-year-old grandfather, a lay preacher and organist at the church, was discovered by a member of the public, badly beaten, just yards from St Saviour's in High Green on Monday, but died from his head injuries in hospital on Thursday night.
During the service, Mrs Greaves told the congregation at St Saviour's: "I won't be able to contact you over the next few days, but I want to thank you for the support you have given me.
"I have prayed constantly for Alan and I know you have too. I have not stopped crying for him and I know you have not stopped either.
"I have wept over the evil that has been done. I have prayed for you and I know you have prayed for me. You were Alan's Christian family and he loved belonging to this church. I have felt your love towards me."
Also at the service, Bishop of Sheffield Steven Croft said: "There is a sense of shock and a sense of outrage, not just in this community but across the whole city of Sheffield.
"Alan was the victim of a brutal attack as he was on his way to church on Christmas Eve, as he was walking to this church to bear witness to his deep Christian faith.
"There will be immense grief for those who knew Alan well, which includes many in this church and community."
Two men are in custody after being arrested on suspicion of Mr Greaves's murder. Police said the motive for the attack is unclear. Detectives believe a weapon was used in the attack, which they have described as brutal.