Pastor proclaims ultimate purpose

Reverend Ross Pethybridge is the senior pastor at Dalby Presbyterian Church.

Photo Gen Kennedy / Dalby Herald
Reverend Ross Pethybridge is the senior pastor at Dalby Presbyterian Church. Photo Gen Kennedy / Dalby Herald

HOW long have you lived in Dalby?

I've lived here 12 years.

Where did you come from?

I was born and bred in Parramatta. When I finished school there I did an apprenticeship as a painter and decorator and then I took off around Australia by myself, towing a camper-trailer. At the end of that I came back to Sydney and worked part-time in a church as an intern.

I went off to Bible College after that for three years. I came back to Northmead and took up my first job as a youth minister.

Why did you choose to become a pastor?

After finishing my apprenticeship, taking that year off to go around Australia, just thinking through my life, what I really wanted to do. I grew up in a non-Christian household, where the name of Jesus wasn't even mentioned.

I was introduced to the Christian faith by a friend of mine, who just kept inviting me along to these events. Eventually I'd heard the message of Jesus and I responded to that message, when I was 18.

I started working as an intern, then decided to go to Bible College. Once you go down that path, a lot more opportunities open up.

What kind of work do you do day-to-day?

My work on a Sunday is about helping people understand the Christian message, through proclamation, through preaching.

For me, Monday to Saturday is about the same sort of stuff too, but rather than proclamation, it's through conversation. So my time on those days is spent with people - we talk about what does it mean to be a Christian, how do we live out our Christian faith. That's what it means to be a pastor. I'm called to be their shepherd.

Tell us about the services at your church.

We have two congregations - an early church congregation that meets at 8.15 - Peter Evans is the pastor, then the 10.30 congregation, and I'm the pastor of that congregation. Each congregation is different, but each caters for people of all ages. So we always have something for the littlies. We'll run creche, kids' church, a kids' song.

The uniqueness of us would be that rather than seeing ourselves as one medium-size country church, we see ourselves as one church with multiple congregations.

Over the last 20 years, do you think more or less people have been coming to church?

We find here that new people are coming regularly - never a week goes by that new people aren't coming in the door. I know some churches find that their numbers have dropped away, but that's certainly not true of us.

Is religion still relevant to people in the modern world?

I would say totally. I think it's totally relevant to us. I saw a Snoopy cartoon that had Snoopy sitting on his kennel and Linus came up and threw a stick for Snoopy and said, "Go fetch!" And everything in Snoopy wanted to go off and fetch the stick, but the caption read, I didn't want to be known as just a person who chased sticks all their life.

I think Christianity offers ultimate purpose in life, and I think there's lots of people that realise there's more than just going to work, making money ... chasing sticks. I'm finding plenty of people interested and wanting to know more.

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