Off to pastures new: Rev Andrew Watson and his wife Hazel
A New Year, and a new chapter in the life of Reverend Andrew Watson.
He had served as minister of Dunfanaghy and Carrigart congregations for the past six years and was also a chaplain at Letterkenny Institute of Technology. However, he’s off to pastures new - to Cairncastle Presbyterian Church near Larne in Co Antrim.
“Over our time here, my wife Hazel and I have come to love Co Donegal and its people, and its beaches, which are second to none,” Rev Watson said.
“We will miss Donegal and I am deeply grateful to so many loving friends in the area who have wished us well in the next stage of our lives.
“We look forward to new challenges and opportunities at Cairncastle, where we have been made very welcome, but we hope not to lose touch with our friends in Dunfanaghy and Carrigart.”
During his time in Dunfanaghy Rev Watson deployed his musical talents by regularly jamming on bodhran and acoustic bass at the Friday evening sessions in Patsy Dan’s public house in the village.
He also wrote a book called ‘Finding Our Way Home’, a prayerful reflection from scripture and words of wisdom. The book is on sale at Veritas in Letterkenny and is also available on Amazon.
His thoughts are also to be found on the wordsurfers.com website which he has developed. It contains a range of writings and videos.
The Dunfanaghy Presbyterian Facebook page also includes a selection of videos made by Rev Watson during lockdown.
As a result of the Covid restrictions it was not possible to hold the usual congregational farewell ceremonies at Dunfanaghy and Carrigart.
But both congregations took the opportunity at his final Sunday services at the end of November to present Rev Watson and his wife with gifts as a token of their appreciation.
The presentations included paintings of Marble Hill beach and of Muckish, along with vouchers, a cheque and flowers.
Mr Watson expressed thanks on behalf of Hazel and himself and said the paintings would always bring back happy memories of his time with the congregations.
A service of installation for Rev Watson was held at Cairncastle church on December 13 and messages of support were sent from Donegal.
As a result of the Covid restrictions, it was not possible for representatives of Carrigart and Dunfanaghy to be present at the Cairncastle service.
But in the messages, reference was made to his talents on the guitar, which Rev Watson often used to accompany praise at Sunday services.
Another feature of his ministry was the effective practice he introduced of the reading aloud of the Psalms, with alternate verses being read by Rev Watson and then the congregation.
Thanks were expressed to Mrs Watson who acted as relief organist and contributed to leading the children’s church. She also brought her IT skills to the fore by helping the churches to transmit services online as the lockdowns took effect.
Another message was read out from the clergy of Creeslough and Dunfanaghy, namely Fr John Joe Duffy PP, Fr Martin Doohan PP and Canon David Skuce. They wished Rev Watson God’s richest blessing as he took up his new position at Cairncastle.
A lasting testimony to the inter-faith activity in the area came in the form of a joint but socially distanced reading of the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm by Rev Watson and his three fellow clergy members. It can be found on the Dunfanaghy Presbyterian Facebook page.
The Rev Ian Carton, minister of Whitehead Presbyterian Church, who acted as vacancy convenor, expressed good wishes to Rev and Mrs Watson on behalf of Carrickfergus Presbytery.
Cairncastle Presbyterian Church is one of the oldest congregations of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. The congregation was founded in 1646, four years after the foundation year of the Presbytery of Carrickfergus, which is the oldest presbytery in Ireland.
Dunfanaghy and Carrigart will now seek permission to call a new minister to the part-time post.
In the meantime Dr Brian Brown from Raphoe has been appointed by Donegal and Derry Presbytery to handle the vacancy.
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