The Rev. Victoria (Vicki) ByRoade, pastor of Dunedin’s First Presbyterian Church since 2002.
Since moving to Dunedin more than 13 years ago, the Rev. Victoria (Vicki) ByRoade has embraced the area as her home, serving the community in a variety of roles.
Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, she has also sat on the board for Habitat for Humanity and the Mease Manor Residents’ Foundation. In addition, ByRoade serves on Dunedin’s Social Services Committee and is a member of the Rotary Club, Dunedin Historical Society, Homeless Emergency Project, Clothes for Kids, and other organizations. Every Easter, she also leads a non-denominational Easter morning sunrise service on the Causeway and presides over the Kirkin’ o’ the Tartan services during the annual Scottish Festival.
It’s because of this dedication to the local community that ByRoade was presented with the Beatrice Donoghue Delightful Dunedin Award by the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce in November. She’d been nominated for the honor in the two previous years.
ByRoade grew up in Delaware, but was introduced to Dunedin by her grandparents, who relocated to the city when they retired.
“It was so beautiful and quaint here,” she said.
She was ordained as a pastor in 1997, and when a position to co-pastor at Dunedin’s First Presbyterian Church opened up, she jumped at the chance. From the beginning, she knew the move was a perfect fit for her.
“We came down and immediately fell in love with the church, the people and the area,” ByRoade said.
When the Rev. Marty Hager retired in 2002, ByRoade stepped up as the congregation’s sole pastor.
Over the past several years, ByRoade has focused the church on mission work. She’s joined groups of youths and adults on two trips to small villages in Belize, working with local orphanages and teachers, and here in Florida took a group to Beth-El Farmworker Ministry in Wimauma to assist with a summer Bible school.
ByRoade has also focused on her personal development during this past year. The pastor received a $49,470 grant from The Lilly Endowment Inc. Part of the organization’s Clergy Renewal Program, the grants are used to fund sabbaticals that encourage spiritual growth and renewal, which can later be used to enhance the congregation as a whole.
ByRoade chose to focus on the spiritual connection and similarities between the ancient Celts and Native Americans. She was able to travel to Scotland and England to study the Celts, as well as New Mexico and North Carolina to immerse herself in Native American practices.
“I was blessed to be a recipient of this grant,” she said. “I truly believe it’s a great way to keep pastors energized and passionate.”
She brought what she learned back to the church to reenergize the congregation. She’s discussed the educational experience in several of her sermons, and delivered a three-night lecture series on her trip, and the members of the church have taken field trips to labyrinths in the area.
As for her Delightful Dunedin Award, she’s both thrilled and humbled by the recognition. “It’s such an honor,” she said.
And looking to the future, ByRoade says the church is actively looking to expand its congregation.
“We’re still trying to reach more people, those who aren’t part of the church yet,” she said. “There’s so much hurt, fear and sadness in the world. There’s a lot going on out there that a church community can help with, and there are so many who aren’t connected to a church.”