Congratulations to Revd David (Dave) Thomas who has been ordained deacon for an internship in Mount Merrion Church. The service was to have taken place in August but Covid struck, forcing a postponement.
Bishop David ordained Dave in his home church of St John’s, Orangefield, on Sunday 17 September. The address was given by the Ven Roderic West, Archdeacon of Dromore, who will retire at the end of the month.
Dave’s journey to ordination
“David became a Christian in 1983”, is what my Mum wrote in the front page of my Good News Bible. I was five and I don’t remember any details! However, I remember always having a faith in God. My parents showed me what a relationship with God looks like in practice and faithfully took us to a lively church, which nurtured my walk with God.
I took a diversion from that walk throughout my teenage years as I tested the boundaries as well as my parent’s patience. But, around the age of 15, inspired by my brother’s growing faith, I began to read the Bible for myself. Over the next year and a half, I read it from cover to cover, heard God speak through his word and was amazed by his grace. As a result, aged 17, I recommitted my life to Christ. My vicar at the time invited me to lead the new youth bible study group and to preach at an evening service. I loved the process of preparing and leading the bible studies and speaking at church. Although, I think I spoke for nearly 40 minutes (whoops!). My vicar asked me if I’d ever considered ordination and I said that I’d love to do it if that’s what God was calling me to.
Fast forward to 2001 and I moved to Northern Ireland and started attending Willowfield Church with my wife Rachel. I served in various ministries including leading worship, leading a life group and speaking at youth services. Again, I was asked if I’d ever thought about ordination, and I gave a similar answer. On another occasion my friend, Chris Matchett, asked me again about ordination, but this time he challenged my answer and said, “Don’t you think it’s strange that you say it’s something you’d love to do? Could that be a sign that God has put this on your heart?” As soon as he said it, I knew I had to take it seriously. I spoke to friends and family, prayed hard and eventually rejected the idea again! But I still had a sense of being called to speak and lead, so I signed up for the Diocesan Lay Reader course. It was only when I arrived at the college that I realised I was doing the Foundation Course, which is the first step towards ordination. It felt like even though I’d rejected the path, God was still keeping my options open.
The thought that God might be calling me to ordained ministry wouldn’t leave me, so I eventually signed up for selection conference and was selected for training and began in September 2020. I couldn’t have managed the training without the support of my wife, Rachel, daughters, Grace, Rose and Maeve, and my parents–in–law, Danny and Margaret, who have helped with childcare while I’ve been at college.
I’ve learnt a huge amount from college staff, my fellow students, and placement supervisors at St John’s Killyleagh, St Columba’s Derryvolgie and St Mark’s Dundela. As I look ahead, I’m excited and a little nervous to begin as a deacon, but I’m looking forward to learning lots as I serve alongside God’s people in Mount Merrion Church. God has been faithful at every stage on the journey and so I know I can trust him for each new step because “he who began a good work… will carry it on to completion…” (Phil 1:6).