|About this Item||Subjects||Charities; Churches: Christian
||Speakers||Clarke The Hon David
The Hon. DAVID CLARKE [4.02 p.m.]: Not too long ago my wife and I were greatly privileged to have attended an event of great significance: an event that moved and inspired us and one we will long remember. The event was the opening session of the annual conference of the Hillsong Church. Even though we are convinced adherents of another Christian denomination, the event left with us with lasting and wonderful impressions. On that occasion more than 23,000 people gathered in the Olympic SuperDome and overflowed into an adjoining auditorium. A great proportion of the people were 30 years of age or under. They gathered as an outward manifestation of their Christian faith and they gathered in fervent adoration, exaltation and praise of Jesus Christ. The Bible records Jesus as saying:
Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.
Well, I can tell this House that He was surely there that night together with those 23,000 people gathered in His name. It was a moving night, a night of great spiritual outpouring, and it was fittingly symbolic of the growth and dynamic spiritual outreach of Hillsong Church. The gathering was also symbolic of what I believe to be a great Christian spiritual revival in New South Wales and throughout Australia. Faith-based Anglicans in Sydney are experiencing it, my own Catholic Church under the leadership of Cardinal Pell is experiencing it, as are others. Hillsong thrives and it thrives because it is blessed and it is blessed because it stands for the unambiguous and unadulterated core message of the Christian faith.
Hillsong Church does not seek to reinterpret and change that message as so many grave-diggers of Christianity seek to do. It teaches Christianity as the Bible proclaims it. That is why Hillsong is blessed with such growth. That is why it is surging forth with such vigour and vitality. At Hillsong they put Christianity into action, not only in their personal lives but also through an outreach program of charitable and social works. All those programs seek to transform people into better people physically and mentally, and to transform them spiritually. All those programs are faith-based. Hillsong is heavily involved in drug rehabilitation through its highly acclaimed program Teen Challenge. It has been remarkably successful in fighting drug addition, alcoholism, gambling addiction and suicidal tendencies.
Many who previously were hopelessly addicted have been transformed into new people. Modern miracles are being achieved because the programs look to God for their inspiration and strength. Hillsong operates many other such programs. One of those, called Mercy, helps young women with life-controlling problems find restoration in their lives. In a program called Hillsong Street Teams volunteers go into the community to assist with acts of Christian help such as cleaning, painting and gardening. The Hillsong Sexual Abuse Freedom Education Program gives aid, comfort and practical assistance to those affected by the trauma of sexual abuse. The Hillsong Life Program offers skills courses and services to strengthen the lives of people, especially the young as they prepare to enter the workplace.
A dynamic highly praised organisation called Hillsong Emerge operates community programs to help prisoners, single parents and others needing support who might otherwise slip through available support nets. The Hillsong Youth Community Service assists in developing good values in the young and the Hillsong Disaster Relief Program provides assistance in times of crisis and disaster such as the $150,000 raised for victims of the Bali bombings and $85,000 for bushfire-affected Canberra residents. Time does not permit me outlining the church's many other programs. Can anyone deny that these are programs of Christian community service fitting of the highest admiration?
I know that a small band of journalists is floating around, ever ready to do a negative job on Hillsong. But their efforts are futile, their attacks are simply swept away by Hillsong's monumental tidal wave of good works, spiritual focus and community outreach, activities which credit God as their focal point. Our community is well served to have Pastor Brian Houston, Hillsong's principal pastor. He is a man of great vision and endless energy. All people of goodwill acknowledge and give credit to him for his good work. Our society is enriched and energised by the transformational goodness that comes from Hillsong Church, truly a church that is Christianity in action.