SAVOY, Ill. (WCIA) — The Zhang family is still grieving the loss of their daughter Yingying. Now, a church in Central Illinois is holding a service to honor her life.
Zhang was killed by Brendt Christensen two years ago. She was a visiting Chinese scholar at the University of Illinois. The Champaign-Savoy First Baptist Church is holding a service for her family before they return to China in late August.
That service will be at the Savoy First Baptist Church on Prospect Avenue by Burwash Park, and will only take about an hour. An exact date has not been decided, but church leaders say it will likely happen within the next few weeks. Everything said in the service will be translated to Chinese. There is no limit to the amount of people who can come. While the sanctuary is able to hold about 400 people, 100 can fit in the overflow area.
Senior Pastor Chuck Moore says church members from Taiwan and China took the Zhang family under their wing during the two years of the trial.
“You can imagine how difficult it must be to lose a child and especially under these circumstances,” said Moore.
Zhang has been described as a hard worker and as someone with a sunny disposition. Christensen was sentenced to life in prison two weeks ago for her killing. Moore says church leaders recently met with members of the Zhang family.
“We’re very fortunate to have a group of individuals who have a real gift of compassion and care so the group has really come together and is strategically doing everything that needs to be done so that we can provide them with an appropriate environment of compassion and grace,” said Moore.
Zhang’s best friend from China has arranged for a Chinese choir and musicians to perform at the service. The pastor from Hessel Park Christian Reformed Church will also be speaking. The service will also include a casket that’s symbolic of Zang at the service. Loved ones will be putting mementos to Zhang inside.