Services herald new era for Lewes churches

The Rev Richard Moatt, The Right Reverend Mark Sowerby. Bishop of Horsham, and the six  churchwardens of the three churches. Inset: The Rev Steve Smith, new pastor at Eastgate Baptist Church
The Rev Richard Moatt, The Right Reverend Mark Sowerby. Bishop of Horsham, and the six churchwardens of the three churches. Inset: The Rev Steve Smith, new pastor at Eastgate Baptist Church

Lewes welcomed two new clergymen to the town in memorable services last week.

St Anne’s Church was full to capacity on Friday for the Installation Service of the Reverend Canon Richard Albert Moatt as Rector of the Benefice of Lewes St Anne, St Michael and St Thomas at Cliffe with All Saints.

It was led by the Right Reverend Mark Sowerby, Bishop of Horsham, who shared a moving sermon not only on the challenges facing Lewes in the current climate but the challenges facing Christianity and the need to work together and with Richard’s inspiration and leadership to grow in trust, fellowship, faith and love not only within the Benefice but with all the churches in Lewes.

Among the guests were Charles Anson, Deputy Lieutenant of Sussex, Graham Peters, High Sheriff of Sussex, Lewes MP Norman Baker, Cllr Michael Chartier, Chairman of Lewes District Council, Dr Ian Rothery, Lay Chair of Lewes and Hastings Deanery, and the Mayor of Lewes Cllr Ruth O’ Keeffe. They gave warm welcoming addresses to the new incumbent.

The Rev Moatt was, until his move to Lewes, the vicar of Cross Fell group of eight churches (and Rural Dean of Penrith in the Carlisle Diocese).

He was originally a teacher in East Sussex before studying for the priesthood. He attended theological college in Lincoln and his first clerical appointment in Cumbria was in 1981, as curate of Egremont and Haille.

The rest of his diocesan service has been in the Fellside parishes with his wife Michele at Langwathby living and bringing up their four children in the village. Michele, a former ballet dancer who ran a ballet school for a number of years, studied at Durham and Lancaster universities, gaining a doctorate in medieval history.

The Rev Moatt’s first service was a timely one - the Advent Sunday/Toy service which was well attended and many Christmas gifts were received in aid of The Family Support Service.

The following day saw the Induction Service of the Rev Steve Smith at Eastgate Baptist Church, which was attended by MP Mr Baker and the Mayor.

It was led by the Rev Trevor Beckett, the Act of Induction was by the Rev Stuart Davison and an address was given by the Rev Phil Wright.