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The Very Revd Alfred Ian Wyatt

20 July 2012

Service to the Scottish Episcopal Church: the Very Revd Ian Watt

Service to the Scottish Episcopal Church: the Very Revd Ian Watt

The Rt Revd Michael Hare-Duke writes:

THE Very Revd Alfred Ian Watt, a former Provost and Dean in the Scottish Episcopal Church, died at Kinross on 2 July, aged 78.

Ian was educated at Glasgow Academy, and trained for the ministry at Coates Hall Theological College, Edinburgh. His working life began as a mechanical engineer with Albion Motors in Glasgow.

He attended St Oswald's, Kings Park, in Glasgow, and came under the influence of the Rector at that time, Alastair Haggart, who was later Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church. At his Bishop's insistence, Ian served out his apprenticeship. It was perhaps from this that he 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 priest in 1961, he served for three years on the staff of St Paul's Cathedral, Dundee, where he rejoined Haggart. He then moved to Fintry as Curate-in-Charge.

After three years as Rector of St Mary's, Arbroath, from 1966 to 1969, he was persuaded by Bishop John Howe to accept the appointment as Provost of St Ninian's Cathedral, 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 St Andrews, Dunkeld & 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 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 judgement and leadership, the Scottish Episcopal Church chose him as the Convener of its Mission Board. On the death of its 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, with working with 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, and its subsequent dramatic reforms.

To enable him to carry out his wider responsibilities in 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 Revd Robin Forrest described him 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 that 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.


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