Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Holt Electorate: Casey City Church, City of Casey Australian Study Tour
I rise tonight to talk about a man and a group of people who are truly making a difference in my community: Pastor Larry Sebastian and the Casey City Church. The church was founded in March 2003. In his role as senior minister, Larry has sought to organise various community and outreach events that connect with schools and community groups. They do a lot of outreach services. It is a relatively young church—in fact, I think it was nine years old yesterday. Larry and his senior ministry are taking the church out to the people.
Our community—as you would know, Mr Speaker—is a growth belt community. It has a lot of people who have shifted out or come into the area to make their lives their own. They have bought an idea—a dream and an aspiration. When they shift out to these growth belt communities, they often find that there is not a lot of social infrastructure. There are growing communities but there is not the social infrastructure that binds the community together. So the community look for events and groups of people who make a difference and help provide that glue and the services that they need. Often in these growth belt communities they do not get the access to the services that they need. This is where Larry and the Casey City Church come in.
What drove this home to me was an event called Carols by Twilight, which is held on Christmas Eve at Max Pawsey Reserve. This event has been running for something like 35 years. It is a landmark event. It is one of those events where, after a long year—particularly if it has been a fairly tough year—people gather together to celebrate being a community. They do that celebrating Christmas—and what I like to think is the true meaning of Christmas.
In 2011, I attended this event. It had been forecast that there could be 2,000 to 3,000 people; so you can imagine my surprise when I walked onto the stage and saw about 7,000 people—many with candles, signifying hope for a better future. The music was quite extraordinary. Some of the artists who performed were: Andrew Wishart, Madison Pritchett, opera singer Shu Cheen Yu, Ollie and Chris Sebastian, Daniel Kelaart, Coby DeMaria and a number of others. The Casey City Church band provided back-up for the artists. Larry himself is a fairly accomplished musician—he is the uncle of Guy Sebastian. The Sebastian family provided a lot of the support. I do not think there is a member of the Sebastian family who cannot sing.
Larry has been running this event with the church for two years. The church provided the music for about six or seven years. It is a church that reached out to the community. If you could have been there that night and seen people's reactions to the words that were said and the music that was performed, you would have seen the great work that the church was doing.
This church has a number of ministries—I will not go into them now. I want to say to Larry and the church: you are making a significant difference to the lives that people lead in our area. The ministries that they offer have a very unique concept; it is a community cafe where you 'pay as you feel'. A lot of people in my community do not have a lot of money. You can come in, in a spirit of friendship, in a good environment—I think it is the city edge facility—you can share a meal, and if you do not have a lot of money you do not have to pay a lot of money. You can pay what you feel, pay what you have. The fact that churches like this are reaching out to the community says a lot about Larry and the church he is running.
In the short amount of time I have available, I want to mention a number of special people: Alice Cochrane from St Margaret's School, Maddie Gordon-Walker from Beaconhills College, Luke Pel from Gleneagles Secondary College, Tanisha Beveridge from Lyndhurst Secondary College, Corey Mathrick from Cranbourne Secondary College, Emilijia Stefanovic from Cranbourne Secondary College, Kira-Shae Locke from Berwick Secondary College, Kathryn Hazell from Hampton Park Secondary College, Benjamin Hill from Fountain Gate Secondary College and Amanda Carron from Maranatha Christian School. These young people came to see us as part of the City of Casey Australian Study Tour. These young people—aged 16 years and over, and who go to schools in my area—have come to observe how government functions. If these people are the future of our country, our country is in very safe hands. (Time expired)