Obituary: Very Rev Alfred Ian Watt, minister
BORN: 20 March, 1934, in Glasgow. Died: 2 July, 2012, in Kinross, aged 78
Educated at Glasgow Academy and trained for the ministry of the Scottish Episcopal Church at Coates Hall Theological College Edinburgh, Ian’s working life began as a mechanical engineer with Albion Motors in Glasgow. He attended St Oswald’s Kings Park Church in Glasgow and came under the influence of the then rector Alastair Haggart, later Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church. At his Bishop’s insistence he served out his apprenticeship and perhaps from this learned his practical and effective approach to church problems.
In 1959 he married Rita McGill a trained teacher and began a family of one son and two daughters. Ordained as a priest in 1961 he served for three years on the staff of St Paul’s Cathedral Dundee, rejoining his former Rector Alastair Haggart. He then moved to Fintry as Curate in charge.
After three years as rector of St Mary’s Church, Arbroath (1966-69) Bishop John Howe persuaded him to accept the appointment as provost of St Ninian’s Cathedral in Perth, where he made many friends among the clergy of the diocese and within the congregation.
In 1969 when I was elected as the Bishop of the Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane Ian’s friendship, honesty and ready humour made him a good colleague, from whom I learned much. He also taught me the secrets of microwave cooking and he acted as guru for my initial struggles with the world of computers. He became Dean of the Diocese in 1989.
Recognising Ian’s qualities of judgment and leadership the Scottish Episcopal Church chose him as the convener of its Mission Board. On the death of Secretary General, Ian Stuart, he took over as an interim. He was amused to contrast working with a staff whose job it was to carry out your instructions and church volunteers who had to be persuaded into action!
A comment made by Ian at the annual general meeting of the Scottish Episcopal Church, then called the Representative Church Council, about the lack of any coherent overall strategy led to the formation of the policy committee under the chairmanship of Sir Lewis Robertson with its subsequent dramatic reforms.
To enable him to carry out his wider responsibilities within the church, Ian moved from the Cathedral to St Paul’s, Kinross where he and Rita remained until his retirement. After his retirement he offered his services as a counsellor to businesses for the Listening Ear and proved that he had not lost touch with the world of work.
At a service to celebrate Ian’s life and ministry the Very Rev Robin Forrest described Ian as “a most gentle and affectionate man who not only gave affection but elicited affection from all of us. He was a good man. A life well lived, useful in practical things, warm in his friendships, called by God into existence, called by God into the priesthood and now called by God into his nearer presence.”
We all owe much to Ian Watt for the insights he brought to Church policy and for his friendship and ministry. Those who knew him will remember him with gratitude and affection. Our prayers and love will surround Rita, Fiona, Moira, John and their families.
Rt Rev Michael Hare-Duke
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Friday 24 May 2013
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