After seven-and-a-half years of presiding over betrothals, bedside vigils and baptisms, Reverend Ken Rampling and his wife Lynette of the Yass Valley Anglican Parish will change ministry.

The couple is to move to St Paul’s Ginninderra Anglican Church in Belconnen and live in Canberra where their four grandchildren live and where their fifth grandchild is on the way.

Their announcement has been blessed by the Yass Valley community, which hopes Reverend Rampling and Mrs Rampling will retire in Yass as initially planned.

Reverend Rampling said they were “shocked” when Bishop Mark Short of the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn asked if they would consider the career change.

“It wasn’t a question we had considered. We had decided a while ago that Yass would be where we would retire from ministry. So when the Bishop asked us to challenge that idea – whether God thought we should retire from here or somewhere else – it was a bit of a shock,” Reverend Rampling said.

A holiday allowed Reverend Rampling and Mrs Rampling to reflect and pray about the decision.

“We’ve always had the philosophy that we would ask God to shut the doors he didn’t want us to go through and leave the ones open that he did. Things changed in our family and in other areas of our lives that kept turning us towards this decision. It’s still a surprise that God wants us to do this, but we also feel a sense of anticipation about what he is up to because he doesn’t do anything without a reason,” Reverend Rampling said.

An interim minister will be appointed while the Bishop begins the selection process for a permanent minister and Yass Valley Anglican Parish will have a say in who the Bishop appoints, Reverend Rampling said.

“The committee is half parish and half from the bishop’s office, so the person doesn’t get imposed upon the parish,” he said.

The couple said they would miss the historic town they have called home for so many years, the people and their quirky 1840s house.

“We have four lovely old churches in this parish, the youngest is 100, and the rectory is older than St Clement’s Anglican Church. In Canberra, there’s one building which happens to be rented premises from the ACT Government which used to be a primary school, so it has a completely different look and feel,” Reverend Rampling said.

“The thing I notice when I go back to Canberra is that it’s very difficult to get people to look you in the eye, there’s that sense that everyone shields themselves. Whereas here in Yass, most of the time if you make a stray comment to someone in the shopping queue or walking down the street, they’ll engage with you. That’s what I’ll miss the most,” Lynette said.

The couple apologised to those they were unable to share the news with in-person due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, they promised there would be many opportunities to say farewell before the move.

“I’m convinced God has something wonderful up his sleeve not just for the church and the people of the church but also for the town and the district. I would encourage people to look forward positively because good things are coming,” Reverend Rampling said.

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