New vicar for rural churches

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A VICAR who spent 25 years of his career working in Africa takes over at three village churches today (Thursday).

The Rev Canon John Knight worked in Southern Rhodesia/Zimbabwe before being forced out of the country in 1986.

He will be inducted as ‘house of duty’ priest for the parishes of Weedon, Everdon and Dodford in a special service today.

He said: “I’m very happy to be able to do this work. I feel I was called to do it.

“The Church has always allowed retired vicars to step in on occasions to take services, and this is a development of that. The people of these parishes asked if I would come out of retirement to do this, and the dioceses agreed.”

Although officially retired, due to Church of England policy, Canon Knight – who lives in Brackley – will provide services on Sundays and also be available on two days a week and for special events.

He said: “My family and I went to Southern Rhodesia, as it was known, in 1936 when I was a few months old.

“I went to school in South Africa and went to university in England before going back to my home country to start my career. I worked there and ended up as Dean of Mutare Cathedral. Then the Mugabe regime started putting pressure on my bishop to go, and I tried to let the international community know.

“The regime said I had brought the country into disrepute and I had to leave.”

Canon Knight came to the UK and ended up working in the Northampton area. He went on to become vicar for the benefice covering Litchborough before retiring.