Belfast Telegraph

'Bright, kind' young teacher Craig Church (27) who died after fall in China is laid to rest

By David Young

Grieving friends and family members filled a small north coast church yesterday for the funeral of Craig Church (27), the Northern Ireland man who died in China.

His funeral took place in St John the Baptist Church of Ireland in Portstewart - the same church where he had been baptised and confirmed.

The rector of St John the Baptist, Rev Stephen Fielding, officiated at the young man's funeral.

Last night Rev Fielding told the Belfast Telegraph that the massive outpouring of sympathy for the Church family - demonstrated by the huge turnout - showed the esteem in which the deceased and his family circle were held.

"It was a very sad occasion for the whole parish," the rector said.

"There was a huge turnout from the entire town, including a huge number of young people.

"That will be a great comfort to Craig's family. We feel their loss and hope that their hearts will be healed some day, their mourning rested, and they will find peace."

The clergyman told mourners that Mr Church would be remembered as a bright, kind young man in the prime of his life.

"It was terribly sad for the family to have to say farewell to a beloved son in the prime of his life," he said.

Mr Church had been teaching English to primary school children in the city of Rui'an on the eastern coast of China, and had lived there for more than two years.

He is believed to have died after falling down stairs.

Before leaving Northern Ireland to work in China he was a student at the Ulster University in Coleraine, where he took a Masters in Anglo-Irish literature.

The funeral was a day to remember his life and give thanks for the memories he had left behind, Rev Fielding said.

"For Christians, death is not the end of the road. It is the beginning of a new road," said the cleric.

"I hope the Church family will be able to take some comfort from that."

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