FOR the congregation of two Borders churches, this year’s Holy Week will take on a little extra significance with the appointment of a new full-time clergyman after a gap of two years.
Friday night saw the institution of the Reverend Dr Chris Knights as rector for both St Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Kelso and the linked congregation at St Mary and All Souls in Coldstream.
It ends a two-year wait for the churches after the retirement of Malcolm Lockie in September 2009.
The ceremony was carried out by the Bishop of Edinburgh, Brian Smith, in one of his last institutions before his own retirement in August.
Dr Knights, 49, originally from Twickenham, has spent the past 30 years working in the north-east of England, most recently in Newcastle where he was also involved with urban regeneration projects.
But he is familiar with the Kelso area. “We’d been feeling it was the right time for a change, for a move somewhere else,” Dr Knights, who is married with two grown-up children, told TheSouthern this week.
He went on: “We have some connections with this area and when we were up last year we popped into St Andrew’s and noticed they were looking for a new rector.
“So we thought we would explore this further by me applying for the position. God obviously had a hand in things somewhere, because the result was a move to Kelso!”
Dr Knights says it is a bit too early to comment on what he thinks the challenges of his new role will be. “The first thing I will have to do is get to know both congregations.
“And with this being Holy Week, the most important week of the year for Christians, I will be kept pretty busy with four services a day.
“But it’s very exciting and I am looking forward to my new dual role in Kelso and Coldstream.”
Ruth McGrath is a vestry member at St Andrew’s and says everyone at the Kelso church has welcomed the appointment.
She said: “It took a little time for the congregations at Kelso and Coldstream to decide whether we should remain in partnership, but in the end both groups felt that was the best way to continue. And both congregations are delighted to see Chris taking up the role of rector.”
Mrs McGrath paid tribute to retired assistant priest, the Reverend Father John Evans who had held the fort for the past two years at St Andrew’s.
“If it hadn’t been for John, I think things would have been much more difficult for us. He is due a lot of credit for keeping things going,” she said.