• 01 February 2024

A new chapter opens in Killyleagh

A new chapter has opened in Killyleagh Parish with the introduction of Revd Eben Grobelaar as Priest–in–charge. Eben is a long way from home having come to us from Johannesburg but he received a very warm welcome to County Down! 

The Revd Henry Blair, Mission Coordinator for SOMA UK & Ireland and the National Director for Ireland, gave the address at the service which took place on Wednesday 31 January. Eben is the former leader of SOMA South Africa.

It was a wonderful evening, and the last word from Eben summed everything up perfectly… ‘Let’s do this together’.

Eben introduces himself below:

My first love in ministry has always been missions. When visiting the diocese in June 2023 as part of the SOMA mission, what I saw and experienced were life–giving. The ethos of the diocese, faith and optimism of the people so impressed upon me that I wanted to be part of what God is doing in Down and Dromore.

I believe that God’s calling on our lives is accumulative. All our past experiences bear witness of God’s sovereignty to lead us into areas of greater fruitfulness and meaning. What I can offer to the church in Northern Ireland is my South African story and service that is testament of God’s redemption, bring the global church together for its healing and growth.

What I bring to Northern Ireland are the testimonies of communities and individuals where God has, and continues, to work. Most recently I served as rector of St George’s in Parktown, Johannesburg. It has a history of working for Biblical justice in South Africa during Apartheid, bringing down barriers of division in the church when it was considered unthinkable. During my tenure I sought to continue this reconciliatory work in a country that still struggles with racial, class, and political tensions. I bring these experiences with me.

My ministry formation happened in rural Mpumalanga, northeast South Africa. My theological training and curacy were infused with ministry in areas that are economically, socially, and spiritually in great need. Walking dusty paths between small houses to help people with their basic needs like fetching water from the well, or simply sitting with them when yet another family member dies, is formational to see how Jesus would like us to.

It is with these experiences and mindset that I come to Killyleagh, to immerse myself in the community, with its joys and challenges, trusting God’s grace to continue His work in this area, and in me. I see the parish church of St John’s with outstretched arms, embracing the community, and bringing it to a greater knowledge of the love of God.