Churchmen lead tributes to diving tragedy minister Rev Dr Stewart Jones
The Presbyterian minister who died in a tragic diving accident off the coast of Co Donegal last Saturday has been buried in the village he served for the past 10 years.
A service of thanksgiving for Rev Dr Stewart Jones took place in Donemana Presbyterian Church in Co Tyrone where the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland joined Rev Jones's widow Patricia and family.
Dr Michael Barry led the prayers of thanksgiving, and intercession tributes to Dr Jones were paid by two of his friends and fellow ministers, Rev Dr Robert Buick and Rev John Hanna.
Dr Buick described Dr Jones as "a big guy, not just physically, but mentally and spiritually" and recollected his early days growing up in Bessbrook, Co Armagh, where he was a boy scout and where he developed his love and passion for the outdoors.
He added: "Stewart was deeply committed to the need for society here to move forward and another pivotal time was his year as Moderator of Presbytery when he became deeply involved with the Churches Together project working with Bishop Ken Good (Church of Ireland), Monsignor Eamon Martin (Roman Catholic Church) and Rev Peter Murray (Methodist).
"Stewart also loved working with the other chaplains in Altnagelvin Hospital, who became valued friends as they met while visiting and shared in various services together."
Dr Jones' family was left devastated by his sudden death.
Dr Buick added: "Patricia describes her husband as warm and loving and he had built a special relationship with his two grandchildren, four-year-old Josh and four-month-old Lily. Josh's first question on coming into the house was always "where's granda?"
The 56-year-old father-of-three was an extremely skilled diver which has left many shocked at his death in a diving accident. He was also a qualified diving instructor and first aid instructor.
Dr Buick added: "Why the events of Saturday 12th July at St John's point in Donegal, on a fun dive, at a dive site he knew well, resulted in Stewart's tragic death, we may never fully understand."