Guyra’s Anglican minister, the Rev. Mark Evers, and his family are leaving the parish next week.
Mr Evers has been vicar of St James’ Anglican Church since 2013. His parish stretches from Guyra out to Ben Lomond, Tenterden, Brockley, and Backwater.
Mr Evers is moving to Tumut in the Snowy Mountains, so his family can be close to his and his wife Genevieve’s parents, who live in Wagga Wagga.
"Thank you," Mr Evers said. "Thank you for a good six years; thank you for loving me, and my family, and my kids.
“We are sad to be going, but we hope and pray that the congregation in the parish will continue to love one another, to love the community, and to love Jesus."
Mr Evers has enjoyed being part of the Guyra community, getting to know locals, and building relationships with them.
“It’s just a great little town to live and work, to raise our kids, and to do ministry,” he said.
“Guyra is such a pretty place to live – but it's the people that make a town, and there are stacks of nice, friendly, welcoming people in town.”
His youngest daughter, Ruth, was born in his first year here, and all his children started school in Guyra.
"It's a great place to raise a family,” Mr Evers said. “It's friendly. There's plenty for kids to do; but it's nice and quiet; it's not too fast-paced; and you don't have to travel ages to go anywhere."
Mr Evers joined community groups in town, including the Guyra Central School P&C and the soccer committee, as well as coaching and playing soccer.
"That's given me a chance to get to know lots of people,” he said, “and to really be a part of the community, and feel part of the community.”
Walking down the street, shopping at IGA, or visiting the coffee shop, he said, he would run into the same people.
“You get to know them, and people are just willing to have a chat, which happens in most country towns.”
Mr Evers was assistant minister for two years in Glen Innes before moving to Guyra.
"I went to Moore College in Sydney,” he said. “I grew up in Wagga, and never wanted to go to the city; I always wanted to go back to the country."
He came to New England because he wanted to work with the then-bishop of the Armidale diocese. He considers it one of the best dioceses in the country to work in.
"There's a real sense of collegiality among the clergy and the laity,” he said. “The laity all across the diocese know each other across parishes, and get on well together.
“The big thing that makes this diocese stand out, I think, is that everyone here is committed to teaching the Bible, and to proclaiming that Jesus died and rose again for the sins of the world, and that people need to trust in Him to be saved. Unfortunately, you don't always get that same commitment to those core truths everywhere that you get here."
Mr Evers felt the calling to ministry when he was at university. His parents attended church faithfully, and he always went to church growing up.
“As I started to learn more, and look into it, I realised just how important it is that people trust in Jesus; that they are taught the Bible clearly and faithfully; and that there are people everywhere who need to know of God's love for them and His Son.
“I realised that God could use me to spread that message, to teach people, and that through me people could get to know Him better."
A farewell service will be held at St James’ on Sunday, January 13, at 9am. All are welcome.
Mr Evers said the bishop hopes to replace him fairly quickly, but it takes time to find someone to fill positions. Until then, wardens will look after the church, and visiting preachers will hold services and perform rites.