General News

2 April, 2024

Long-serving minister plans to step down

After more than two decades as Horsham Church of Christ senior minister, Simon Risson has announced that his ministry in Horsham will come to an end in September.

By Faye Smith

Simon and Andrea Risson PHOTO Contributed
Simon and Andrea Risson PHOTO Contributed

After more than two decades as Horsham Church of Christ senior minister, Simon Risson has announced that his ministry in Horsham will come to an end in September.

He says he's grateful to the community he has served for 22 years for the many opportunities that have come his way.

"I guess I feel highly connected to this community and just said 'yes' to a lot of opportunities," Mr Risson said.

"We're incredibly grateful for the people who've been around us, influencing and shaping us."

Mr Risson said he was unsure what the future held for him and wife Andrea but his early notice allowed church leaders to begin to consider future options.

Mrs Risson will continue working as an integration aid at Holy Trinity Lutheran College until the end of the school year.

The church has two other ministers: Mr Risson's brother Jarrod and youth worker Tanika Thorne.

Mr Risson's contribution to his church and the wider community has not gone unnoticed.

In 2020 Horsham Rural City Council named him Citizen of the Year.

He is chaplain to Horsham Rural City Council and CFA D17, was Horsham Primary School council president for several years, led Horsham Christian Ministers Association several times, was on Horsham's Carols by Candlelight committee and emceed the event several times, appeared in several Horsham Arts Council productions including Annie, helped at school camps and performed in Smart Artz's Laramie Project (which tells from many viewpoints the story of a gay university student who was beaten and left to die).

He also mentored primary school students and taught religious education in Horsham schools.

Mr Risson played 97 games for Pimpinio Football Club and at 40 was the oldest 'debut' player in Horsham District League.

He was also chaplain to several sporting teams, especially dealing with the issue of grief.

In his 22 years as a minister he has officiated at 105 funerals and by the end of the year he will have married 60 couples.

"I count it as an honour and privilege to stand with families at these times," he said.

"These are sacred moments and I don’t take them lightly."

Mr Risson grew up in Ballarat, the son and grandson of ministers, and has uncles and aunts on both sides of the family who were or are ministers.

His two brothers are also ministers.

He attended Ballarat East High School before taking on an apprenticeship and later working as a mechanic but he said he felt a call from God to study for the ministry.

Throughout his theological studies in Mulgrave, he worked as a student minister in Greensborough and Boronia.

"Dad was a minister and I didn't feel skilled enough to go into ministry," he said.

"But I had a knot in my stomach and wrestled with God until a lot of random conversations convinced me I should go down that path.

"I also realised that God sustains beyond anything we can imagine.

"Many times I have shaken my head and wondered what I was doing in this role."

Having married Andrea O'Brien, a nurse, after meeting her at church camps and youth group, Mr Risson moved from Melbourne to Mildura, where he ministered before making the change to Horsham as associate minister to Allan Anderson.

The couple's fourth and youngest daughter Ruby was born a couple of weeks before this move.

Their eldest daughter Mae Anders is a primary teacher in Moonie Ponds; second daughter Grace is a barista and supervisor at a café and organic store at Preston Market; Lily works in Green Leaves Early Learning Centre, Horsham; and Ruby is an administrator with Austin Health in Melbourne.


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