Where are they now?
Twelve years ago, Dave began working as a part-time Youth Minister in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, supporting himself with a part-time carpentry job. It wasn’t long before he realised he needed more training. He went to Youthworks’ HOUSE Conference and it was there Dave says he realised Youthworks College wasn’t “a Bible College for kids”. Youthworks’ vision captured Dave’s imagination and he signed up to study at College the very next year.
Dave’s passion for evangelical Anglican ministry outside Sydney was stirred on College Tour. Students visited a diocese outside Sydney and met a minister who shared his struggles serving as an evangelical in a largely liberal diocese. “At Bible College, this man was laughed at by his lecturer for taking a Bible to his Systematic Theology class, like that was a thing to mock.” Dave says he was shocked to hear that many ministers in this diocese did not believe that Jesus had died for their sins.
When students visited another church in the diocese on Tour, Dave said he was floored by signs asking for money. “I was confronted by the idolatry, ‘Give to help fix the Cathedral tower and your name will be immortalised’.” When he looked up at the stained glass window, Dave saw the verse engraved there: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:31-31).” In that moment Dave says he was so overwhelmed by the thought of Anglicans who were not believers, he almost ran. “I was so devastated by it.”
Dave says the experience of doing Tour in another diocese helped him to realise he is Anglican by conviction. “Of all the tribes and families of the world, I realised being Anglican is my family and my tribe. The 39 Articles, the Prayer Book, the Ordinal, I love them because these are evangelical documents that inform us what it means to do Anglican ministry.” Dave resolved to leave Sydney to build up an evangelical church in a place where it is more difficult to be a Bible-believing Anglican.
When he finished his studies, Dave, and his wife, Priya, began to consider serving with Bush Church Aid (BCA). BCA encouraged the Morgans to apply for a position as the Minister at Paraburdoo Anglican Church, a mining town in the Pilbara region of North West Australia. They moved to this small and isolated place, five hours from the nearest McDonald’s, in 2014. Culturally, it was a big change.
“Most of our interests were very different from the locals.” But Dave and Priya made good friends there, both Christians and non-Christians. “We were able to invest in the community in a way we didn’t have time to do in Sydney.”
Although ministry in Paraburdoo was very hard, Dave says he was encouraged by the “shafts of grace” among the children he and Priya ministered to. “We had many good opportunities to teach the gospel to children in Paraburdoo who were soft-hearted to the gospel.” The Youthworks College ‘Dusty Boots’ mission team was also a great encouragement when they ministered to the nearby Aboriginal community of Wakithuni.
“There are 50 adults and children in Wakithuni that need the gospel, but we didn’t have the resources to reach them. The visit from the Youthworks College mission team meant those families got the best youth and children’s ministry they would ever receive in their life!”
The Morgans’ last year in Paraburdoo was discouraging and hard, as many church members moved away. Dave then sent a survey to the entire town. “We were essentially asking the community the hard question: Do we pull up stumps?” This led to another shaft of grace.
“I got a message back from young guy saying, ‘I’ve been a Christian for 10 years but I’ve got anxiety and I can’t come to church, I’m too afraid.’ So, I met with him, and he came to Bible Study and now he’s the only committed member of the Anglican church left in Paraburdoo.”
Dave and Priya faithfully served one term in Paraburdoo when they began to wonder if Dave was the right person to lead the ministry there. “What was really traumatic for me was that I went to Paraburdoo to be a Pastor, but I realised what the community needed was an evangelist whose priority was not Sunday services but forming relationships and sharing the gospel. And that just wasn’t me. As much as I love evangelism, I want to do it with my church.”
Dave and Priya made the heartbreaking decision to leave Paraburdoo. “We realised we could run the church with absolutely no help, or we could raise the kids with no help, but we couldn’t do both. It was going to kill us. The responsibility was weighing so heavy on us.” So they began investigating Anglican churches outside Sydney in liberal dioceses, but with more support.
As the Morgans considered what next, different churches began to contact them including St Mark’s, Sadlier in South West Sydney. Dave says until the day he said yes to Sadlier, he thought he would say no.
“I was swayed by the words of my ministry mentor who said, ‘Don’t decide based on your passions, think about how God has wired you and Priya, and your children, as a missionary family’”.
Dave is now Senior Minister at Sadlier which he says is well suited to his family as a place they can all serve. But they don’t want to rule out moving outside Sydney in the future. Dave says he has learnt to ask the question: “‘How can we as a family best serve the gospel?’ which may not always mean following our desires”.
Pray for Dave
Pray for Dave, Priya, Evangeli, Elizabeth and Acacia that they will love one another and be faithful to each other and the ministry at Sadlier.
Pray for the youth and children of Sadlier that many more would become Christians.
Pray for Dave that he would preach the unchanging gospel to Sadlier and he would be an encouragement to the church’s members.