A former IT specialist hopes to play a part in the regeneration of a Valleys’ community when he becomes its new vicar.
Revd Jonathan Widdess – nicknamed ‘iCurate’ in his former church – is joining the parish of Bargoed and Deri with Brithdir. He will be licensed at a special service on Sunday (March 17) by the Assistant Bishop of Llandaff, David Wilbourne, and the Archdeacon of Morgannwg, Chris Smith, at St. Gwladys, Bargoed.
Jonathan, 40, takes over from the Revd Andy Bookless, who moved to Milford Haven last year after 15 years in the parish. It will be something of a home-coming for Jonathan and his wife Amanda as, although they are from England, both their families came from the Rhymney Valley – Jonathan’s great-grandmother was from Pontlottyn while Amanda’s grandfather was a miner in Gilfach. The couple are looking forward to introducing their two children, Elizabeth, four, and 18-month-old Benji to their ancestral heritage.
“Although I grew up in Buckinghamshire I have always felt Welsh, particularly when watching the rugby!” says Jonathan. “I felt called to Wales while I was training for ministry in Oxford and I am very much looking forward to serving in Bargoed. It’s an exciting time for the community as extensive regeneration plans are underway, including the new by-pass, landscaping and retail park development. My vision is for the church to be at the heart of the community, helping to regenerate people by changing their hearts and lives through God’s love.”
This will be Jonathan’s first appointment as a vicar. An economics graduate, he left a successful career in software development to train for ministry, having discovered faith through the Alpha course. For the past four years he has served as a curate at the parish of Gabalfa, Cardiff, where he picked up the nickname ‘iCurate’ and helped develop its online activity.
“There is broadband in the Rhymney Valley and I’m looking forward to getting involved with projects like the Gigabite E-Cafe for youngsters in Bargoed. It’s hard to believe that just a decade ago I was an atheist and working in IT - my relationship with God has changed my life and made me new. Now I hope I can use all the skills I have to contribute to the regeneration of this community.”
Bishop David said, “Jonathan comes to this parish with many strengths, passionate about the Gospel, no stranger to suffering’s heart. I think his greatest strength is his reality, he tells it as it is, without guile, but with immense integrity. I am delighted to license him and am sure he will be welcomed by the whole community.”
Jonathan will be licensed as Priest-in-Charge of Bargoed and Deri with Brithdir at St. Gwladys, Bargoed, at 6pm on Sunday 17 March.