We were happily serving at St Matt’s Manly when we read an article about Norfolk Island. We had a growing conviction that our next location should be somewhere less reached and resourced. It was mid-2014 and we thought 2018 sounded like a good time to make a move which gave us time to grow towards what seemed like such a big change. But I was told that if we didn't go very soon, the future of the church couldn’t be guaranteed. If a church closes in the suburbs, you can go to the one down the road. If a church closes on an island, that may affect Christian witness for generations. We couldn't in good conscience do anything else!
Norfolk Island is a great place to enjoy creation, it has breathtaking scenery and a unique culture (with an intriguing past). We enjoy living in a small community where everyone knows (and relies) on everyone else. It has also afforded us many opportunities for friendship and recreation – as an Anglican minster where else would I get to play drums in a cover band!?
As well as caring for the church, an important part of my role is to preach evangelistically to the 30+ tourists who visit our services each week! Like any ministry we lead Bible Studies, help to run the Kids Club and Youth Group, and teach SRE. I also have a 10-minute weekly radio spot on Sunday mornings, a regular column in the local newspaper, am the Chaplain to Anglicare and run a stripped back morning prayer service with hymn singing at the aged care wing of our hospital.
Crystal and I have been involved in a number of community groups. I also connect at touch football, act in the local amateur theatre group and as I mentioned, play drums in a cover band. Another of the special ways that we have connected with the community is playing the role of Mr & Mrs Stewart on Bounty Day. Mr Stewart was the Commissariat storeman who stayed on to welcome the Pitcairners in 1856. This role involves judging the ‘family of the year’ and also the winner of the beard contest!
During our time here we have been most encouraged by the growth in our children’s and youth ministry. When we arrived, there were no children at all, in any church on the Island. Now there is a Sunday School, a Kids Club and a Youth Group, as well as a Combined Churches Children’s and Youth Minister supported by the Ministers Fraternal.
Pray for Greg Harris and Bishop Michael Stead as they appoint the next Chaplain to serve here and for us as we grieve leaving a community who have loved us and whom we have loved.