It was standing room only at St Stephen's, Dorrigo, when the Rev. Mike Ridge, accompanied by Steph, Sophie and Ben, was inducted as Priest in Charge of the Parish.
And what a night! The church was packed. Worshippers stood at the rear of the church, in the foyer and spilled over onto the steps.
A dozen clergy from Diocesan parishes attended, some making night time round trip journeys of more than 300 km to be there.
Rev. Mike was inducted by Senior Diocesan Archdeacon, the Ven. Gail Hagon, standing in for Bishop elect, Rev. Dr Sarah Macneil.
The preacher was the Dean of Grafton, the Very Rev. Donald Kirk and Rev. Mike was welcomed by the Archdeacon of the South, the Ven. John West (himself a Liverpudlian!).
Clergy and members of all local denominations attended and Rev. Mike and Steph were also welcomed by Pastor John Woolhouse representing the Dorrigo Inter-church Council and Dr Chris Shirley on behalf of the Dorrigo Community.
Rev. Mike (admitting it may be an unfortunate metaphor) said his family had been "bowled over" by the nature and generosity of the welcome they had received. (As he spoke the England cricketers were losing their 10th match in 11 games. Quite unfortunate!)
But the real focus of the night was definitely on celebration and worship, praise and laughter.
And afterwards we ate extremely well at what Rev. Mike said might be called a shindig or bun fight in Blundellsands.
In Dorrigo it would be called "one heck of a good night".
Rev. Mike's first services are on the first Sunday in February.
Under Diocesan policy all clergy assuming first parish appointments are made Priest in Charge for 12 months and then become rectors.ï»¿ï»¿ï»¿ï»¿