AN AMERICAN minister has traded places with a Swindon counterpart as part of an international exchange programme run by the World Methodist Council.

The Rev David Calhoun, 62, of North Carolina, is currently staying at the manse at Stratton Methodist Church in Ermin Street, in an effort to develop ties with the Methodist sector in Swindon.

The regular minister for Stratton, St Andrew’s, Moredon and Rodbourne Road Methodist churches, the Rev David Gray, is working in Mooresville, North Carolina.

Swindon’s newest minister flew into the UK on June 25 and is expected to stay until early August.

He has one or two tricks up his sleeve as a result of a lifelong dedication to magic and sleight of hand.

“I began as a child with an interest in magic and illusion,” said the Rev Calhoun. “It developed from there and I started practising more regularly.

“I have performed for a lot of major corporations in the States and find that people love being entertained with magic.”

The minister performs at trade shows, business sales meetings, banquets, conventions and hospitality suites. He has performed for Pepsi and communications business AT&T.

The Ministerial Exchange Programme has been running since 1947, and although the Rev Calhoun has known about it for the past 20 years, he only recently felt it was the right time to come to the UK.

“We have just loved it. Everyone has been very kind,” he said.

“We have stopped to ask people for help and they have all been so helpful. We really like Swindon.,”

During his time in the town, the Rev Calhoun has spent time preaching, meeting youth groups, attending community barbecues and the food kitchen, helping volunteers.