Banbridge minister is removed from his position

Rev Andrew Watson, Guest Rev.David Cupples and Captain Robert Nesbitt at the 65th Anniversary Enrolment Service of 1st Banbridge Boy's Brigade Church- �Edward Byrne Photography INBL49-226EB
Rev Andrew Watson, Guest Rev.David Cupples and Captain Robert Nesbitt at the 65th Anniversary Enrolment Service of 1st Banbridge Boy's Brigade Church- �Edward Byrne Photography INBL49-226EB

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland have said they hope a minister, who has been removed from his Banbridge church, will find another post and have a flourishing ministry.

They also said they hope the Scarva Street congregation will be able to move forward together.

The comments came after Rev Andrew Watson was removed from his post at Scarva Street Presbyterian Church after the congregation said they no longer had any confidence in the minister.

Earlier this year he was falsely accused of having an “improper relationship” with another woman.

Following an internal investigation, it was revealed that the accusations were unsubstantiated.

However, despite having his name cleared, Rev Watson has still been removed from the post he has held for the last twelve years after the congregation committee passed a vote of no confidence.

Rev Watson, who has also served as the Moderator of the Iveagh Presbytery, was removed from his position in the church last Monday, even though he was cleared of immoral conduct earlier this year.

The internal investigation was launched in April when Rev Watson, who is married with five children, became the centre of malicious rumours in the town. Rev Watson was accused of having an affair with a woman who said she was going through a divorce at the time. She denied there was anyone else involved in her divorce.

The Judicial Commission of the Presbyterian Church found “no evidence” of the alleged misconduct and it was reported that a number of the church elders had “contributed” to spreading the rumours.

Two members of Scarva Street Presbyterian Church have since been disciplined for their involvement. An elder was removed from his position and the Clerk of Session was also removed from his post, although he remains as an elder in the church.

Rev Watson, who moved to Scarva Street Presbyterian from Donegal in 2001, is said to be “devastated” by the decision. The Presbyterian Church have yet to find a replacement for Scarva Street Presbyterian and it is understood that Rev Watson has not yet found a new position.

A spokesperson for the Presbyterian Church said that Rev Watson was “a minister of good standing with the Presbyterian Church. I would hope Andrew will find another congregation and have a flourishing ministry. I also hope the congregation will put this behind them and move forward.”