Prof. Robert E.L. Rodgers (1938 – 2021)

A native of Bangor Co. Down, ‘Bob’ Rodgers was raised by his grandmother, who gave him her own surname. He was converted at about 12 years of age through the instrumentality of an Aberdeen man, a visiting speaker at a local Brethren children’s work. After service in the RAF, he returned to Bangor in the early 1960s, where his abilities were perceived, and he was appointed to the extension committee of the then ‘Bangor Baptist Church’, who were planting a second congregation in the town.

In 1967 he was called to the pastorate of Grange Baptist Church in County Antrim, where he remained for 3 years. Comparatively early in his Christian life, he came to a reformed conviction, a rare thing for a Baptist pastor in Ireland in the seventies and eighties. In those days, many Baptists in Ireland would have considered this to be bordering on the heretical. In 1980, with a mortgage to pay and a family to keep, he took on the job of being one of the governors of the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland. ‘The Troubles’ were at their height, but his pastoral skills, developed many years earlier, came to the fore.

A studious man, his first degree level qualification in Theology was in the early seventies. In 1984 he received his first doctorate; more were to follow. By the nineties he had developed strong connections in both America and Hungary. At the University of Miskolc in Hungary, he founded the department of Christian Studies in 1993, remaining as head of department until 1998.

His writings and studies have appeared in journals such as the Evangelical Quarterly, the Journal of the Irish Baptist Historical Society, the Evangelical Voice, and the Gospel Magazine, among others. A popular visiting speaker in different countries, he continued preaching until a few years ago. He ascended to glory on the 11th January 2021, leaving one son and two grandchildren.