Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Retirement beckons for Benalla pastor

Rose City Baptist Church pastor Derek McConnell is retiring after 27 years of service.

MONIQUE FREER February 5, 2014 4:10am

Celebrating long service: Rose City Baptist Church pastor Derek McConnell, with wife Vicky, is retiring after 27 years of service.

After 27 years of service to Rose City Baptist Church Pastor Derek McConnell is preparing his final sermon.

Pastor McConnell is retiring as the church’s pastor this weekend and will be farewelled in an emotional thanksgiving service.

‘‘We look forward to it, but it will be an emotional time because the church has been our family 24-seven for 27 years,’’ he said.

‘‘This weekend is the right time for the church to move on and find a new pastor and for us to move on to retirement.

‘‘It’s a good time for a younger man to take over, the church has absolutely no debt and it is in a very stable position with membership.‘‘

Originally from Belfast, Ireland, Pastor McConnell moved to Melbourne in 1973 with wife Vicky and son Mark.

He took a job at Nissan Motor Company and worked as a manager in the inspection department for 13 years.

He began speaking and preaching at Croydon Independent Baptist Church, and helped at Rose City Baptist Church during their pastor’s holidays.

When the church began looking for a new pastor shortly after, they called on Pastor McConnell.

The couple, together with their children Mark, Ruth and Rebecca, relocated to Benalla in 1987 and Pastor McConnell has been preaching at the local church ever since.

‘‘After 27 years of ministering, retiring will be like losing my right arm,’’ he said.

‘‘Since coming to Benalla the church has doubled in numbers.

‘‘I’ve been blessed to see babies born, grow up, get married and have babies of their own.’’

Pastor McConnell said a source of pride was that during his 27 years at the church he only had six deacons, four of whom were still serving.

‘‘It’s quite an achievement, it shows faithfulness and dedication, which is very much appreciated,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve been here for 27 years, the Lord has allowed this to happen and he should receive the praise, if any, not ourselves.’’

While Mr McConnell celebrates his 27th anniversary as pastor this Sunday, the church will celebrate its 45th anniversary. A thanksgiving service will be held on Saturday at 2pm at Benalla Town Hall followed by afternoon tea at Rose City Baptist Church.

Pastor McConnell will address the congregation for the last time on Sunday, February 16.

The McConnells said they would enjoy a cruise in the Pacific Islands before returning to spend more time with their children and grandchildren.

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