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Jubilee History of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church of Carlton
Present TimesóRev. H. Kelly, M.A.

On Mr. McEachran's retirement, the Congregation at once determined to take steps to obtain a worthy successor. It was unanimously resolved to offer a call to the Rev. D. A. Cameron, M.A., of Warrnambool, and two delegates were sent to Warrnambool to sound Mr. Cameron on the subject. After considering the matter for some days, Mr. Cameron felt that he could not leave his people, and so declined the invitation.

Further congregational meetings were held, and it was decided to leave the matter in the hands of a small committee to recommend a suitable pastor, and not to follow the usual practice of hearing candidates, the desire being to secure unanimity in the matter, and to conserve the best interests of the congregation. Before Mr. McEachran's pastorate had actually ended, the committee had decided to recommend the Rev. D. C. Davidson, M.A., an American evangelist, for the position. Mr. Davidson preached during January, 1903, and at a congregational meeting, held on 2nd February, a call was given to him, signed by over 200 members and adherents. Mr. Davidson felt, however, after full consideration of the matter, that his life work was that of an evangelist, and so could not see his way to accept. At the urgent desire of the people, however, he consented to occupy the pulpit for a while.

The selection committee then set to work again, and after careful enquiry and consideration, were able, before Mr. Davidson left the pulpit, to suggest to the congregation the name of the Rev. Hugh Kelly, M.A., of Knox Church, Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand, This recommendation was unanimously approved of, and a call, signed by 317 persons, comprising 185 members and 132 adherents, was in due course got ready, and despatched to New Zealand, the promised stipend being £400 with manse.

The call met with acceptance, and on 17th September, 1903, Mr. Kelly was inducted by the Presbytery of Melbourne North. During the interval between Mr. Davidson's departure, on 12th June, and Mr. Kelly's arrival, Mr. McEachran had occupied his old pulpit.

The committee, in coming to its conclusion to recommend Mr. Kelly, had carefully studied the life work of the man, as obtained from reliable sources. The pastor of their choice was in his forty-third year, having been born at Carluke, in the Clyde Valley, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Educated at the village and parish schools there, he went as a lad to Glasgow, where he was employed in a warehouse. Later on, for some time, he attended classes at the University. He was much attracted by Moody's mission in 1874, whilst still a boy, and was one of the converts in the religious revival of that year. From that time on he had a burning desire to become a minister. In his native village he earned fame as " the boy preacher," and after his removal to Glasgow he took an active interest in slum mission work there. In 1881, at the solicitation of a brother, who had preceded him to the antipodes, he emigrated to New Zealand, which became his home for the next twenty-two years. First as a teacher, afterwards as a home missionary, and finally as a minister, he earned a reputation as an earnest Christian worker. Though a married man, with a family to keep, he persevered manfully with his studies, until he was rewarded by obtaining a University degree and a license to preach the Gospel. In his several charges at Ravenbourne, Woodlands, Waimate, and Parnell, he had done splendid work, and from one end of New Zealand to the other, he was regarded as one of the leading men of the Church. He was especially popular with young people, and at the time of his call to St. Andrew's was the President of the Christian Endeavour Union of New Zealand, and editor-in-chief of "The Burning Bush," the official organ of the Union. Mr. Kelly' s great desire was to work among large masses of people, where there was much need of aggressive Christian work, and it was felt by the selection committee that a man with such sympathies could find good work to do with the parish where St. Andrew's Church was situate.

On the evening after the induction, although the night was very wet, the School Hall was filled with people to bid Mr. Kelly welcome. The new pastor was clothed with his mantle of office (the gift of the congregation) by his venerable predecessor, and the services of the Rev Robert Marray, MA. B.D., of Williamstown, as interim moderator, did not escape recognition from a grateful people. The Proceedings were of a very enthusiastic nature, and from the first the new minister won the hearts of his people. He preached his first sermons on the following Sabbath, and from that time till now he has never been idle in carrying on the Master's work. The congregations have been good, and the Board of Management had the satisfaction of telling the congregation at the last annual meeting that they had been able to pay their wax, during the first twelve months of their new pastor's ministry. Urgent repairs and renovations to the properties had also been executed at an outlay of £200, and £100 had been collected during six months for the purpose of diminishing this new debt, whilst the old debt had been reduced to £120. The Board has since been reducing this debt further, and there is a small amount still owing, but it is confidently expected and hoped that at the time of jubilee this debt may be all discharged, and the congregation freed from the burdens under which it has struggled so long. This desired end, if accomplished, will enable the congregation to embark on much needed mission work in the neighbourhood, as in the old days, the old mission work having been abandoned in 1897, and never since revived through want of funds.

Since Mr. Kelly's arrival, a large number of new members have been admitted to the church, and in its last annual report the Session was able to state that it could confidently assure the congregation that a fine spirit of prayerfulness and earnestness prevailed.

Looking back over the years that have passed, with the many changes that have taken place, one cannot but thank God for the good work done by those who have gone before, and hope that, as He has been with us in the past, so He will he with us in the future, and that both minister and people will have a blessed time in the days to come.

The congregation has paid, during the last fifty years, about £28,000 for stipend and pulpit supply (with a free house for its minister for the last thirty-five years), about £5,500 for salaries (not including the missionary's salary of £100 per annum whilst paid by Mr. McEachran for about thirteen years), £18,000, roughly speaking, for buildings (not including repairs), some £800 for ministers' travelling expenses, and, in addition to other working expenses, has contributed thousands of pounds to missions, schemes of the Church, and other outside charitable objects. We cannot but thank God for His goodness in inclining the hearts of His people to serve Him so well. Spiritual results have also been good, and are beyond counting. May prosperity in both spiritual and temporal matters increase in the future, and may the example of the men, who have, under God's guidance, left us such a heritage be ever remembered and followed by the present and future generations. Our fathers' God will be with us, if we put our trust in Him.

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