Reverend Toby Neal is the pastor of Vine Church, a young creative church in Surry Hills. He regularly speaks to people in the inner city about the objections they bring to Christianity. Originally aspiring to preach the gospel through the Middle East, he instead started an inner-city church because he believed the traditional church had lost its message to a young, educated, emerging generation.
Whether in Vine’s morning and afternoon services within Surry Hill’s oldest church (formerly St Michaels on Albion Street) or low-key forums at the local pub to discuss objections to faith, Toby weaves together pop culture, philosophy, anthropology, and the arts to show how faith in a Christian God makes logical and emotional sense.
Some of the community ministries Vine Church has initiated include ‘Bread of Life’, providing Sunday breakfast to people living on the margins, ‘Made with Love’ to reach out to women working in brothels in and around Surry Hills, and an annual Mardis Gras outreach (the parade goes right past the church) to provide a place for conversation that bridges a divide.