The Bishop of Stafford has paid tribute to North Staffordshire priest Revd Jonathan Watkins following his death.
Jonathan was the Vicar of the Benefice of Knutton, near Newcastle-under-Lyme, until December 2021 when he retired due to ill health. He died on Wednesday 2 March.
Jonathan was ordained Deacon July 1992 and served his curacy at Wallington in the Diocese of Southwark. In 1997 he moved to the Diocese of Winchester, serving in the Parishes of Hartley Wintney, Stockbridge and the Test Valley. During that time he also served as Chaplain at the University of Winchester.
In 2018 Jonathan moved to the Diocese of Lichfield to serve the Benefice of Knutton.
The Bishop of Stafford, the Rt Revd Matthew Parker, said: "Jonathan was a gentle, prayerful and faithful parish priest with a great love for the gospel and a pastoral heart for God’s people. His untimely death is the cause of great sorrow to both his family and friends and to the congregation at St Mary’s, Knutton. Jonathan’s faith held firm even in the midst of his final illness and suffering and he knew himself to held in the Everlasting Arms and eagerly looked forward to sharing in the joys of heaven."
Lifelong friend the Revd Greg Yerbury, from Penkridge Team Ministry, added: "He was a gentle kind man who was a much-loved parish priest and an excellent Chaplain of King Alfred College where he had a positive impact on many young people's lives. He was musically gifted and loved leading worship on his keyboard."
There will be a cremation at 11.20am at Bradwell Crematorium followed by a Service of Thanksgiving at St Mary’s, Knutton, at 12.30pm on Wednesday, 6 April.