Northern Ireland

Service in NI for Julie Wong who died in NZ earthquake

Christchurch Cathedral
Image caption The damage caused to Christchurch Cathedral as a result of the earthquake

A memorial service is being held on Sunday to remember a Northern Ireland woman who died in the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand.

Julie Wong, formerly Johnston, who was originally from Lisburn, died when the Pyne Gould Guinness building collapsed on 22 February.

Her former church in NI, Lowe Memorial Presbyterian in Finaghy, is holding a memorial service on Sunday night.

It will also establish a relief fund in her name.

Julie emigrated to New Zealand five years ago, where she lived with her English-born husband David and four-year-old son Ethan.

She worked in the financial services industry.

Lowe Memorial Presbyterian Church minister, Rev James Burnett, attended Julie's funeral in Christchurch and said he was shocked at the devastation caused by the earthquake.

He said: "What I saw in Christchurch is the worst thing I think I've seen in my whole life.

"I wept for a city gone in a matter of minutes.

"What struck me profoundly was the sight of tens of churches from across all denominations lying in ruins.

"And yet, there remained a deep level of fellowship and support among Christians, as they lived in and out of each other's houses and pockets.

"I was deeply moved by what I witnessed in New Zealand and feel God wants us, as Christians in Northern Ireland, to stand with the Christians and churches in Christchurch, and so Lowe is setting up this fund in memory of Julie to help and assist them in their time of desperate need."

The magnitude 6.3 tremor in Christchurch killed more than 160 people and shattered a city already reeling from a previous seismic event in September.

Thousands of people have left the city as a result of the earthquake and Mr Burnett said it was estimated that "rebuilding could take at least five or six years".

"When I spoke at Julie's funeral service in Christchurch I said it is our prayer that God will heal your city and bring a blessing of hope and revival like you have never seen before," he added.

"Maybe, through this fund in Julie's memory we can be part of their healing and future blessing."

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