New minister enriches Ararat

ARARAT'S new Uniting Church minister Colin Honey took the words of Methodism founder John Wesley into account when taking on the Wimmera role.

"He said we should not just go to those who need us, we should go to those who need us most," he said.

Mr Honey had spent 10 years at a parish in Yarraville and was looking for a new challenge.

"I was ready to make a move and a case was put to me for Ararat," he said.

"It had been without a minister for two and a half years.

"Ararat had a need and it looked like a lovely place."

Mr Honey said Ararat's soaring club and classic cars club were added bonuses.

"I love gliding and I have an MG that is one of my pride and joys," he said.

Mr Honey led his first service at St Andrew's on April 6 and welcomed World Vision chief executive Tim Costello for his second service on Sunday.

"To be able to get Tim Costello to come to speak to a place with 10,000 people is something," he said.

"I was also lucky enough to be visited by my two daughters.

"One is a psychologist in London and the other teaches Aboriginal children in Fitzroy Crossing.

"It was wonderful to have them both here for a while. I think they just wanted to check if their dad was doing okay."

Mr Honey brings a wealth of experience to the role.

"I've had a pretty varied life," he said.

"I studied philosophy at Melbourne University and I started out producing current affairs television for Channel 7.

"Then I spent three years studying theology at Cambridge before going on to study bioethics at Edinburgh."

Back in Australia, he was master of a college at the University of Western Australia for more than 20 years.

While in Perth he founded the Kingswood Centre for Applied Ethics, teaching professional ethics to students of business, medicine, law, science, architecture, dentistry and nursing.

"I went back to Cambridge to teach and then when I came back to Australia I was offered a position in Yarraville," he said.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time."

Mr Honey still has a research post at Cambridge and spends six weeks there each January and February.

He said the St Andrew's congregation was well placed to cover his absence.

"They have done a wonderful job without a minister," he said.

"There are four lay preachers who spread the work. They had to make special arrangements for Eucharist, but they have had remarkable success."

Despite their capabilities, Mr Honey said it was not ideal.

"When a minister is not there for a short time other people can carry the work, but over time it becomes harder and harder," he said.

"It's going to be a tough assignment for the next year, but I'm sure after that we will have it running smoothly."

Mr Honey said his aim was to see the congregation grow.

"All the things parents want for their children - to bring them up with values and a sense of community - is what the church is all about, yet numbers are dropping," he said.

"I'd like to see all the churches grow."

Mr Honey said he had been welcomed to Ararat with open arms.

"A lot of visitors have dropped by to check out the new guy," he said.

"Everyone has been great. I'm actually learning the pipe organ and the priest from the Church of the Immaculate Conception from across the road has invited me to go over and practise on their organ.

"That just spells out the good relationships here."

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