In Profile – Maleny Anglican parish priest Deborah Bird

ONE of the St Georges Anglican Church Maleny parishioners, Judith Ross-Smith, recently told GC&M News what an interesting life their priest Deborah Bird had before becoming a priest. We thought we would find out more.

What were you doing before you took on the role at St Georges Anglican Church?

Before becoming parish priest in Maleny, I was an assistant priest in Toowoomba and before that a deacon at St Marks’s Buderim.

Both of those places were wonderfully energising. Buderim had a great reputation for community engagement and I arrived in Toowoomba just as some great public advocacy groups were getting under way.

I particularly enjoyed working with Equal Voices, Amnesty and Toowoomba for Climate Action in encouraging community dialogue on important issues.

What does an average day-in-the-life look like for you?

I’m not sure there is an average day. They’re all extremely changeable! Across a week there are always pastoral situations, preparation of services and the creation of events for reflection and devotion. I meet with people to see how we can be helpful in community life, and then there’s the administration that comes with coordinating a small community. It’s a fresh juggle every day but it’s an incredible privilege to be with people on all the different paths our lives take.

We had a tip that you used to be a professional musician. Is this true?

In my previous life I was a flautist and an instrumental music teacher for Education Queensland, which was a fantastic life.

I particularly enjoyed my years in Proserpine where it felt like the whole town got involved in our music making. I often think everything I know about community I learned from music making. Both are about attending carefully to each other and responding well. It’s how beauty happens and how we make bonds that endure.

What message would you like to spread this Christmas after another tough year of lockdowns, etc?

It has been another tough year and it looks like there is more uncertainty ahead, but the Christmas message is always that hope arrives in unexpected ways. In and out of lockdown, our communities have persisted in finding ways to celebrate milestones, support local artists and businesses, and reach each other through difficulties.

Life has been hard but the goodness of community keeps finding a way. Hope happens because we keep making room in our hearts for each other and in all the ways we make each other’s hearts a little lighter – there is Christmas.

What are you looking forward to in 2022?

I’ve moved around a lot in recent years but Maleny has felt like home since the day I moved in six months ago. Now that I know the parish and the region a little better, I’m really looking forward to playing some music, meeting more people and getting more involved in community and cultural life in 2022.