The Rev Brian Harper was instituted as rector of the Parish of Dunluce on Friday August 18 by the Bishop of Connor, the Rt Rev George Davison.
He succeeds the Rev Canon George Graham who retired last October after 17 years as rector of the Church of St John the Baptist in Bushmills.
Brian is married to Heather and they have three grown-up children – Jonathan, a teacher, and Samuel, a radiographer, both live in Northern Ireland, while daughter Elizabeth works as a nurse in Liverpool. They have one granddaughter.
Heather recently retired from Castlederg High School where she was a Sixth Form Supervisor, and Brian and Heather are looking forward to the opportunity to spend more time walking, which is something of a passion, along with their three rescue dogs.
The couple are directors of Park Run in Enniskillen, and on Coronation Day Brian completed his 250th Park Run! In 2019, he walked the 500-mile Camino in Spain, and he has been Sports Chaplain with Ballinamallard Utd FC for the past 12 years.
Brian was formerly rector of Magheracross Parish, Clogher Diocese, where he was also Archdeacon of Clogher. Originally from Dungiven, he attended Limavady Grammar School and has a Degree in Psychology from the University of Liverpool. Following graduation, he began training at the Church of Ireland Theological College in Dublin and was ordained in 1985, when, at the age of 24, he was the youngest Church of Ireland clergyman on the island.
Brian’s first curacy was in St Columba’s, Portadown, and this was followed by a second curacy in Drumglass Parish, Dungannon. He was rector in Ballygawley, Errigle Keerogue and Killeshill before moving to Mullavilly Parish in Tandragee, where he remained incumbent for 19 years.
Having served all his ministry in the Diocese of Armagh, Brian moved to Clogher Diocese in 2012 when he was appointed rector in Magheracross Parish, Ballinamallard. He was Archdeacon of Clogher from 2016 until his move to Bushmills.
The preacher at the Service of Institution was the Rev Gareth Morgan, team vicar of Halewood and Hunts Cross in the Diocese of Liverpool.
Hymns sung were Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty; Breathe on Me Breath of God; and Give Me Oil in My Lamp.
Colonel Neil Salisbury OBE DL read the Old Testament Lesson and Glenda Rodgers-McCormick BEM read the New Testament Lesson.
During the service, members of the congregation presented Brian with symbols of the teaching, pastoral and sacramental ministry of an incumbent – Maureen Creighton presented a Bible; Ellie, a young parishioner, presented a container of water; Brian Sweeney presented a Book of Common Prayer; young parishioners Emily and Christopher presented bread and wine; Ruth Wee presented oil; Ronnie Garvin, rector’s churchwarden presented the keys of the church; and Billy Creighton, people’s churchwarden, presented a towel.
The organist at the service was Maisie Kennedy and at its close, refreshments were served in Dunluce Parish Centre.
Dunluce Parish Sacristan, Glenda Rodgers McCormick, said the service had been well attended. “Once the formalities were over, we had refreshments in the parish centre, and it was all very relaxed. We got to meet our new rector’s family and he spent all event chatting with parishioners.”
She described the institution as the start of a new chapter for Dunluce Parish. “We have been without a permanent rector since November and we are looking forward to getting back to normality,” she said.
Speaking following his appointment, Brian said: “I am looking forward to meeting new people and getting to know everyone in Dunluce Parish. It is a lovely part of the world and I will be closer to my family.”