TRIBUTE has been paid to a popular Keighley clergyman who is taking-up a new post in Essex.

The Rev Dr Jonathan Pritchard will lead his final Sunday service (10.30am) at All Saints’ Church, Highfield, at the weekend.

He has been appointed team rector of Witham and Villages, near Braintree.

The Rev Dr Pritchard came to Keighley in 2004 as priest-in-charge at All Saints’ and the following year also took-up a similar role at St Barnabas, Thwaites Brow.

He became town chaplain, plus assistant priest at Keighley Shared Church, in 2015.

Then the next year saw him also take on a team vicar post in the newly-formed parish of Keighley.

He said: “It is a huge wrench leaving Keighley, for me and my family, because we love the people and this is what I believe Christ’s ministry is always grounded upon – the love that makes sense of us, hallows us, challenges and impels us.

“In my new role I will primarily be based at St Nicolas, Witham ­– a beautiful medieval church in a growing town.

“There will be much to do, new challenges and new opportunities. But I will always remember Keighley – its many and varied people and communities and all that we’ve shared together.”

During his time in Keighley, the Rev Dr Pritchard has been involved in many organisations – from United Keighley to Highfield Film Collective.

Archdeacon of Bradford, the Ven Andy Jolley, pays tribute.

He said: “Jonathan is to be congratulated on his appointment to this significant post of team leadership in the Diocese of Chelmsford.

“Bishop Toby Howarth and I are most grateful to him for his faithful service in Keighley over the past 16 years – and the part he played in the transition five years ago to a united parish.

“His work with United Keighley and in establishing support for asylum seekers has been particularly notable.

“Jonathan’s leaving will create some significant gaps and so we will be working with team rector Mike Cansdale, the parochial church council and others to consider what skills and experience we will now need to find for the future. We are praying for the parish as well as for Jonathan, Anna and the family as they move to Essex.”