Gunnedah Anglican Church’s new assistant minister has been quick to immerse himself in the community.
Less than a week after arriving with his wife Joanne and three boys in January, Mr Piper found himself signed up to the Australia Day triathlon alongside senior minister Scott Dunlop and Ministry Training Strategy (MTS) trainee Leisa Newnham.
“I’d been overseas for half of January and I hadn’t swum for a month, so I almost died when I got in the pool,” Mr Piper said.
“After the first 50m, I felt like I was going to drown.”
He did make it to the end, however, and since recovered.
The Pipers are now settling in nicely, with two of their sons attending Carinya Christian School.
The family are enjoying being in a bigger town after living in Lightning Ridge for nine years and working at the community church.
“We went to [Lightning Ridge] with no kids and left with three,” Mr Piper said.
“We thought it was time for a change and this was the door that opened.”
Gunnedah is not completely new to Mr Piper – the minister visited in 2008 as part of a mission team when he was attending Moore Theological College. He visited with David Swan and Ben France, both of whom went on to become assistant ministers at the Gunnedah Anglican Church.
I’ve been very impressed by the maturity of some of the young people here.David Piper
In his new role, Mr Piper is involved with youth group, Khaos kids club, Sunday services, scripture in schools, Bible study, and mentoring MTS trainee Lisa Newnham.
“I’m excited because when I was vicar [at Lightning Ridge Community Church] I had to do a bit of everything because it was a smaller church,” Mr Piper said.
“I’m looking forward to engaging with the youth and young adults [at Gunnedah Anglican Church].
“I’ve been very impressed by the maturity of some of the young people here. It’s been an encouragement to me seeing young people lead and help out in youth services and kids club.”
Mr Piper’s wife Joanne has already become involved in the church playgroup and is enjoying the change.
“It’s been a really welcoming town and the kids are coming home very happy from school, which always makes mums happy,” Mrs Piper said.
“We’re just enjoying all there is to do here.
“[Gunnedah’s] got a really good community feel about it.”
Mr Piper has replaced Aiden Sibrava who has moved on to Kiama.