The Ordination Service of Revd Rodney Blair and Revd Matthew Topley,
took place in St Mark's Armagh on Tues 8th September 2020.
Rodney will serve as Deacon Intern in St Columba's Portadown and
Matthew in St Mark's Armagh. Our congratulations and prayers for both of them.
A full photo gallery can be found here
I had the great blessing of being brought up in a Christian home where mum and dad taught me to pray, worship God and read the Bible. If there was a weekly church meeting or Bible club, the Blair boys were there (perhaps for some free snacks and babysitting!) and those were places we learned about God and His saving love for us.
At the age of 9 I committed my life to following God, probably not expecting to be standing here today! Soon after this, my dad was ordained and I began to experience Rectory life and understand what it was to be a minister in God’s church.
As a teenager, we attended Ardess where I was given opportunities to lead and teach in a range of church activities. Philip, our Youth Worker, encouraged me and spent time developing me as a young leader.
My experiences in church led to me pursuing youth ministry. After school I moved to Portadown, began studying Youth Work in CYM Ireland, and met my wife, Judith.
As part of my degree I completed my placement in Drumcree Parish Church. After graduating I spent several years in Drumcree working with a fantastic group of young people and their families. I am grateful for the opportunities I was given to preach and lead services, and to participate in all aspects of church life.
I felt God calling me to pursue ministry further so I completed the Graduate Certificate in Ministry to become a Diocesan Lay Reader in 2018. It has been a privilege to lead services and worship God in many parts of the Diocese.
During this time, I was prompted by God and encouraged by people to pursue full time ordained ministry. There was level of reluctance to follow in the family trade, but God’s calling on my life was clear. I am thankful for the many faithful people God has placed in my life who have encouraged and prayed for me on this journey so far.
I began my studies in CITI with the support of Judith and our families. It has been a joy to study alongside likeminded people and to be supported by the staff and the friends I have made there.
Judith and I are both very excited to begin our time in St Columba’s, Portadown, and to serve alongside Rev. Bill Adair. I am looking forward to serving the Parish, developing in all aspects of ministry and sharing the love of God with the people of Portadown.
I had the immense privilege of growing up in a Christian home where, from a young age, I was taught what it means to follow Jesus. My parents and wider family modelled for me a life of humble service and discipleship as we served in our home church of St. Mark’s Portadown. I have a vivid memory from when I was around five or six years old, where it was clearly explained to me that to follow Jesus meant saying sorry for my sins and trusting him to save me by his death on the cross. Praise God for the wonderful rescue that’s available for even a little child!
I never had a ‘coming off the rails’ experience as such, but as I got older I realised that I had to own for myself the faith I had learnt as a child. Through a whole series of events (that would take far too long to explain and would be incredibly boring for you to read!) I came to realise that the Bible stories I had learnt as a child were more than just stories—they were the living, powerful, and active word of the sovereign Lord of all creation! I began to realise how exciting and life-changing God’s word is when his Spirit opens our eyes to his truth, when we are led into the very presence of the living God and our eyes behold the King in his beauty (Isaiah 33:17)! In an experience with some parallels to the call of the prophet Isaiah, I came to realise the awesome majesty and holiness of our God (Isaiah 6:1-4), my own sinfulness before a holy and righteous God (v.5), God’s wonderful forgiveness and cleansing (vv.6-7), and the Lord’s call to proclaim his message to others (v.8ff.).
In June 2018 I went to the Global Anglican Future conference (GAFCON) in Jerusalem, which was a wonderful time of fellowship with nearly 2,000 Anglican brothers and sisters from across the world. One delegate in particular caught my eye though—an Aussie who had responded to the call of God to serve him in the west of Ireland. Now two years later, Erin and I are married and are looking forward to welcoming our firstborn early next year. Over the past two years the two of us have loved serving God together, and now the growing Topley family are looking forward to joining in with the church family in Armagh, as together we proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9)!