New vicar arrives at Christ Church Downend

Rev Dan Watts (right) and Bishop of Swindon, the Rt Rev Lee Rayfield, took a selfie of themselves with the congregation at the service

REV Dan Watts was presented with a huge iron key at the front door of Christ Church Downend as he was licensed as its new vicar.

The key is given to symbolise Dan’s role in welcoming people to the church and being open to all.  Thankfully, we have modern keys these days, and Dan won’t be expected to keep the old one in his pocket!

The service was a mix of old and new, as the traditions of the Church of England were blended with the informality of a church family in celebration mode.

The Bishop of Swindon, Rt Rev Lee Rayfield, who led the service, brought a touch of fun to complement the gravitas of the moment. Rev Dan and the Bishop took a selfie of themselves with the congregation at the end.

The West Country rubbed shoulders with Yorkshire, as several supporters had made the long journey from St Mark’s Church, Harrogate, where Dan and his wife Julia, a primary school teacher, served until January. They have two adult children, Megan and Samuel.

Dan is originally from Surrey, where he was a youth worker, builder and decorator before responding to a call to ordination as a vicar in the Church of England. 

He said: “We are excited to settle into the local community of Downend and join in with the church family at Christ Church, as we seek to serve the surrounding area together.

“We look forward to all that God has in store for us.”

The service on February 5 was attended by representatives from the community Dan has pledged to serve, including parish councillor Janet Biggin, Christ Church Junior and Infant School head teachers Pippa Osborne and Anna Martin, and Sean Dryell from Downend Cricket Club.

Ministers from surrounding churches also came to offer their welcome and support, including Archdeacon of Malmesbury Christopher Bryan, area dean and vicar of St James Mangotsfield Theresa Taylor and patron of Christ Church Downend Rev Matt Ineson.

To watch the service and find out more about Dan, visit the Christ Church Downend YouTube channel or Facebook page.

Anita Dobson