Embargo nil, 15 May 2005
Almost 800 people gathered at Southland Christian Centre in Hoppers Crossing (Victoria) last night to hear Deputy Prime Minister, The Hon John Anderson, address the second Annual National Day of Thanksgiving service organised by Catch the Fire Ministries. This year's service was supported by the Wyndham Pastors Network. Pastors and members from many different churches and denominations across Melbourne attended the service including Anglican, Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Salvation Army, UCA, Apostolic and AOG.
Times of prayer and thanksgiving focused on those who diligently and sacrificially serve our nation. Members of the Armed Forces and the RSL represented past and present members of our three armed services - Army, Navy and Air Force. Medical workers and researchers were represented by Prof Graeme Clark, who invented the bionic ear, teachers and educators were represented by Mr Steven O'Doherty, Christian Schools Australia. State Liberal MP, Mr Phil Honeywood represented Mr Robert Doyle. Pauline Jane Verhoven who described herself as a "Christian, Australian, indigenous woman - in that order" spoke on behalf of the indigenous people of Australia. She said that man needed to be reconciled with God before true reconciliation between men can take place.
Mr Anderson's address focused on three main points. He said "Firstly, that Australia is a wonderful country to live in; the second is that in the Christian creed I can find an answer to the great conundrum that is humankind - that we are capable of such extraordinary greatness and yet capable at the same time of such utter depravity - are we good or are we evil? How can we avoid trying to find an answer to that question; and thirdly, that there is an all powerful God who loves us despite ourselves and wants us to be in fellowship with Him."
He said he needed to be reminded, like everyone else, of how fortunate we were to live in this great nation compared to so many countries around the world. Much of that, he said, was due to our democracy and the Christian heritage upon which this nation was founded.
He said that we could see around us, and in history, that man was capable of great good but also unspeakable evil. This was one of those big questions about which he had to search for an answer - he discovered that it was because we had turned away from God our creator. He said that we were so fortunate that that Creator God had sent us a way out of this conundrum and that was through Jesus Christ, God's son.
The service at Werribee was just one of many such services held across the country to mark the second National Day of Thanksgiving.
In Melbourne, Mr Kevin Rudd, Labor's Foreign Affairs spokesman, addressed a similar service at the Church of Christ in Clayton, south east of the city.
BBQs and breakfasts were also held in Melbourne suburbs and across the country.
The National Day of Thanksgiving website is at www.thanksgiving.org.au
Pastor Danny Nalliah, Leader of Catch the Fire Ministries and one of the national Christian leaders who last year helped establish this annual day, said he hoped we would never take this Day of Thanksgiving for granted and that more and more Australians would become involved in celebrating this wonderful nation and its Christian heritage.
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