Ever since Tim Abbey departed the ministry team at Bathurst Presbyterian Church two years ago, the church has been hard at work looking to find someone new to fill the gap.
Now the church has found its man, after former Dubbo Presbyterian Church minister Bryson Smith officially joined Bathurst church on April 29 with an induction ceremony.
Church regulars and other Presbyterian ministers from the Central West region were in attendance for Mr Smith’s induction.
After almost three decades in Dubbo, Mr Smith thought it was a good time to try something new.
“I had seen lots of good things develop and happen in Dubbo and I wondered if it was a good time to move on. At that time, it coincided with Bathurst contacting me,” he said.
“Bathurst has a different feel. It’s bigger, everyone is really friendly and there’s a strong university presence. It also seems busier, even if Dubbo is bigger.”
Mr Smith grew up in Gosford, on the state’s Central Coast, and went to university to study science and later achieved a PhD in zoology.
He and his wife Sue, who have been married for 36 years, have three children and even though their children have moved away, there was great sadness in leaving Dubbo.
“Dubbo was where they grew up, the family grew up. There was sadness, after living there for so long,” he said.
What kept he and his wife in Dubbo for so long was the concern they saw for churches in regional areas.
“Back then, country churches were suffering higher turnovers. Ministers would come, spend a few years and then go back to Sydney,” he said.
“The plan was to build long-term friendships. We originally planned to stay for 10 years, which became 27.”
When Mr Smith came to Dubbo, the church only had 23 people. He left the city last month, with a staff of four to cater for the now large church.
He will now take the role as the main minister for Bathurst Presbyterian Church’s 9am service, allowing the other two services at 10.30am and 6pm to have its own dedicated minister.
Mr Smith became a Christian at high school, which played an important role in becoming a minister.
“I was convinced Jesus was real and he was truly was God on earth. Jesus has helped us to be restored to God,” he said.
“Because that is true, then I had to do something about it. If Jesus is who he says to be, then I needed to be spending my time, full-time, telling others about him. It’s something that I couldn’t keep to myself.”
Mr Smith has no intentions to leave Bathurst anytime soon.
“I don’t know about another 27 years, but God willing, it would be great to stay and see what happens,” he said.
“The plans are to get to know the people, love them and help as many know about Jesus. First things first, the chief role is to preach the gospel.”
Spending time with his family is something Mr Smith loves and an opportunity he values.
He is also a lover cinema, saying “if you put a screen in front of me, I’ll watch it” and he also enjoys listening and thinking about music.
Mr Smith has also written books, including bible studies guides and he has also written several songs which feature in churches across Australia.
Bathurst Presbyterian Church’s newest minister said he loves the country and its wide open spaces.
Mr Smith preached at his first service on Sunday, April 30, and will be preaching from the New Testament book of Hebrews for the remainder of the term.