Community members will gather this evening to farewell The Venerable Keith Dean-Jones after almost half a century of service to the church, including at the Anglican Parish of Bundaberg where he was priest-in-charge.
Fr Keith's history spans 47 years and began when he was ordained deacon in February 1976 and priest in February 1977.
In 2015 he moved to the region and became Priest-in-Charge of Bundaberg followed by his appointment as Archdeacon of Burnett in 2017.
During his time in Bundaberg Fr Keith has been instrumental in helping the homeless and less fortunate through his work with community meals, which was formerly known as Dorcas Soup Kitchen.
“We have two community meals a week, a Thursday luncheon and Saturday afternoon sausage sizzle,” Fr Dean-Jones said.
“Along with emergency relief through the week and the provision of a shower and washroom – these are the community things we do.
“With the meals we can see up to 50 people every Thursday and about 30 of a Saturday.
“We don’t actually use any church money for these because there is so much strong community support – people are very generous in donations in the Bundaberg Region.”
Saddened to retire, Fr Keith said it was customary for those in his position to leave on their 70th birthday and he had already prolonged his time.
“I actually extended my service by one year, as I will be 71 years old tomorrow,” he said.
“A highlight for me has always been leading people in the worship of God.
“Although there were no huge successes, there was caring for people, particularly the sick, the vulnerable and the outcast. I see that as the main thing.
“So, no outrageous success – I don’t walk on water except for when I go ice skating!”
During his years in the Bundaberg Region Fr Keith said there had been many highlights including restoring the parish organ.
“The organ was restored – there was well over $100,000 raised to do so,” he said.
“The stained-glass windows were restored, the bells restored in the tower, and the lime wash on the outside to protect the integrity of the building put on, all since 2015.
“I have very much enjoyed my time here, I have had a good time, a very busy time – it is a very busy place.
“I have had very good assistant clergy, and I want to affirm the goodness of the community.
“I want to encourage people to care for the poor and the needy, people who are struggling – we need to show support to them.
“I have no regrets from my time in Bundaberg, I have been very happy here.”
The Anglican Parish of Bundaberg will hold the service of retirement and farewell The Venerable Keith Dean-Jones at 5.30 pm tonight in a community service.
To watch the live stream click here.