New County Ecumenical Officer for Norfolk and Waveney

Dr Ian Watson introduces himself and his passion for unity working

I am eager to embark on this exciting journey of promoting unity and cooperation among the diverse Christian communities in our area. My passion for this role is deeply rooted in an unwavering belief that church unity is not just a lofty ideal but a vital mission that resonates with the very essence of our faith.

The Gospel of John, where Jesus prays for the unity of His disciples, holds a special place in my heart. For me, these words embody the profound significance of unity in the Christian faith. They remind us that our shared commitment to Christ transcends denominational boundaries and calls us to embrace each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Church unity is not merely an abstract concept but a powerful force for good in our communities and beyond. It allows us to pool our collective resources, talents, and spiritual wisdom to address the challenges of our time. A united Christian front can be a beacon of hope in a world marked by division and strife, showing the transformative power of faith, love, and reconciliation.

I have been a Christian all my life. I was born in West Cumberland and until the age of 16 raised in Carlisle, but I have lived and worked across many parts of England. My religious life started as a Junior Covenanter (The JUCOs – does anybody remember them?) and a member of the Boys Brigade (the round sailor’s hat and meeting in an austere Victorian hall on a bitter northern wintry night is my abiding memory). I left school with no qualifications but educated myself through correspondence while serving in the army. I was confirmed into the Anglican Church after military service when I first went to university at the grand old age of 25.

More recently I have become a Roman Catholic, not for any specific doctrinal reason but as the best way for me to personally express and strengthen my faith. My wonderful wife is Sue, and we are blessed to belong to two beautiful church communities in an inter-church marriage. I have one daughter who is a PhD candidate at UEA and two stepsons, one who lives in Suffolk and the other in East Yorkshire. Six years ago, I was lucky enough to take early retirement from a series of HR Director roles in the NHS and as an Assistant Chief Officer in the Police Service in order to pursue further full-time education and relocate to North Norfolk. I am currently a Parish Councillor and Secretary for a charitable community land trust dedicated to building long-term affordable homes for rent in our area – both voluntary roles. Since my early retirement, having completed a Master of Arts in Philosophy and being awarded a PhD, I have been captivated by the teachings of Christ that call us to be one body, one family, and one faith community.

I am so excited about the journey ahead. For me, this role is not just another part-time job. I am doing it because I have been called by the Holy Spirit to do so. As such, I will approach it with dedication and enthusiasm but also with humility, sensitivity, compassion and much prayer.

Learn more about Norfolk and Waveney Churches Together.