Pastor leads celebration at church after Kathryn Stalbaum found safe

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WAUKESHA COUNTY (WITI) -- Words of praise and gratitude were sung Sunday night, November 10th inside a Waukesha County church for a missing teen returned home. The pastor of Great Mission Church planned Sunday night's vigil before 15-year-old Kathryn Stalbaum of the Town of Genesee was found.

On Sunday, what was intended to be a prayer vigil was instead a celebration.

"When this happened so close to home, it really impacted me," Pastor Jay Cavaiani said.

Pastor Jay is familiar with Stalbaum through his son, who ran on Stalbaum's cross country team.

"We hope that she has an easy transition back into the community, back into school -- that she feels accepted and loved because we`re just glad she`s home. We don`t care what happened. We`re just glad she`s safe," Pastor Jay told FOX6 News Sunday.

Stalbaum disappeared last Tuesday morning, November 5th, after missing the bus to school and texting a friend to say she was riding her bicycle to school.

That bike was discovered several miles away in the yard of a Waukesha home.

On Friday night, November 8th, Stalbaum was found safe in Chicago. She apparently approached a police officer and asked for help.

Pallin Allen is a close friend of Stalbaum's parents, and spent much of the last week by their side. He says while Stalbaum was missing, her parents prayed for clarity.

"Clarity for Kathryn, clarity for her choices, clarity for the authorities searching. There are still unanswered questions," Allen said.

Allen says the family is grateful for the outpouring of support from strangers, and though this is a seemingly happy ending, the family needs time to heal.

"When she returned and all the adrenaline had worn off and the excitement and jubilation, my friend turned and looked at me and said 'this is page one,'" Allen said.

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