Mount Imlay might not have much on Mount Kilimanjaro, but Eden can definitely give Tanzania a run for its money when it comes natural beauty.
Rev Michael Palmer and his wife, Petra, lived in the African nation with their three children for about nine years, while Rev Palmer returns once a year to teach Swahili to young pastors.
Since 2003 he has been an Anglican rector in Sydney and will soon be commissioned at Eden’s St John's Anglican church in two rural chaplaincy roles: chaplain for Mission to Seafarers, Eden and rural chaplain in the Sapphire Coast Anglican parish.
“We’ve always had a real desire to come to a NSW regional town,” Rev Palmer said.
“We’ve come to listen and learn, to put our shoulder to the wheel.”
Ms Palmer said it was incredibly sad to leave their old community behind in Vaucluse, but were excited to integrate into the Eden community.
“We’ve come here to share our lives not only with the church community, but the broader community as well,” Ms Palmer said.
She said the pair was also looking forward to the quieter lifestyle that the South Coast had to offer, away from the noise of Australia’s biggest city.
It’s also the first move without their now adult children.
Rev Palmer takes over from Pam Skelton, who announced her retirement in July after six years of pastoral service in Eden.
“I feel like his protector,” Ms Skelton joked.
“We are certain that Eden will welcome them, as Eden does, with warmth and genuine interest.”
Rev Palmer might be easy to spot around the Bega Valley’s river systems when he takes one of his many personally-constructed boats to the water.
“Paddling boats is a hobby – a cruel hobby to have,” he joked.
“You end up creating something that is so big.”
Rev Palmer will be formally commissioned at St John’s Anglican Church on Saturday, September 30 at 11am.
A welcome walk will take place following the service to St George’s Uniting Church, where a light lunch will be provided, as well as words of welcome from other Eden churches and community members.