We don’t exactly know where to begin.
As we have been thinking about how to tell you our news, our thoughts and emotions have been all over the place, but we trust that this is the right time to share with you that at the end of this year, David, Crystal, Wendell, Marigold, and Ernie will be moving back to Sydney. The church that we’ll be moving to (and where David will serve as Rector) is in the suburb of Gymea.
That’s the exciting part.
The sad part is leaving Norfolk Island. This is our home, and it occupies a huge place in our hearts.
This is now our seventh year serving the Church of England on Norfolk Island, and truly, each year has been a joy and a blessing to us. You have shaped and formed who we have become. We really believe that these years have been the foundational years of our lives – you are so clearly imprinted on who we are. Thank-you for your unconditional love, care and concern for our family, and for your commitment and love for the Lord Jesus and His church.
While it is always exciting to be on God’s agenda, it has been a difficult decision for us to leave because of our love for you and our joy in what God was and is beginning to do here on Norfolk Island. We have loved you with all our hearts, and you have loved us back. We will always treasure this time God has given us, and we will look upon it with only the fondest of memories, just as we look forward to our new assignment with anticipation and excitement.
Your friends in Jesus,
David, Crystal, Wendell, Marigold and Ernie
Is Anything Wrong?
Not at all.
When we came to Norfolk Island, we were asked to stay for five years and we can honestly say that leaving never crossed our mind. We knew we wouldn’t be here forever, but at the same time we felt such a sense of peace about where the Lord had led us. Our five-year anniversary came and went (and with it, the end of a five year diocesan grant) and we felt like we were still in the honeymoon phase! From time to time I would get calls from other organisations and churches who wanted me to consider joining their team. I was never tempted. I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. At the end of five years we committed to staying on for another two or perhaps three years (three years would see Wendell through to high school). As it turns out, we are making the call to return to Sydney after just two additional years. We made this decision with our family in mind. It was wonderful to have both sides of our family here at Christmas time, however by the end of their visit we knew it was just about time for us to go. While they have always been supportive of our ministry, the previous year had seen the onset of some serious heath problems for Crystal’s mum Pam, and in the case of Dave’s mum, losing Brian just prior to the pandemic was also very significant for us. We were beginning to feel as if our situation had changed. It suddenly seemed much harder on them (and us) to be so far away.
What Has Been The Process Until Now?
Not long after this, we spoke with David Buffett and David Rodgers (Dave’s Rector’s wardens), and then shortly afterward to all the wardens. Normally, it’s not very wise to resign (or to speak about resigning) from your current position without having a place to go. Nevertheless, we wanted to give those whose job it would be to replace us as much notice as we could. The wardens assured us of their care and support, and we all wondered (given the complexities of applying for a position from Norfolk Island) whether we would be still here in 2022 in any case. As it turned out, from that point things happened very quickly. The Lord brought the retiring minister of Gymea Anglican Church to Norfolk Island on a holiday. On his return to work, he would get back in contact to encourage me to apply for his job! In the Lord’s goodness, Gymea is not far from Cronulla where Crystal’s parents live, and it is an area of Sydney where we still have many friends.
What Is Your Timing Moving Forward?
We have agreed with the Gymea parish that our first Sunday will be the 16th of January 2022. We are making arrangements to take our Long Service Leave before commencement which would mean leaving Norfolk in October 2021.
What’s Next For The Church of England?
We wanted to be as helpful as we could when it came to succession planning for the church. To that end, Bishop Stead has also known about our plans. Under God, he is confident of appointing another clergyman (a family man with school aged kids) to commence in January 2022. While we take Long Service Leave there will no doubt be a short period of locum ministry. Please join us in praying for Norfolk Island and the appointment of our next minister which will bring, we pray, a renewed energy to the mission and help the spread of the gospel on the island and beyond.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace”.