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Monday, 7 November 2005
Page: 152

Mr WOOD (10:45 PM) —I rise today to highlight the role of an integral community group in the electorate of La Trobe. I had the privilege of visiting St Marks in Emerald on Sunday, 30 October and attending a service dedicated to local emergency services, including Emerald CFA, Emerald State Emergency Service, Clematis and Macclesfield CFAs and the Emerald Ambulance Service. St Marks, Emerald, has dedicated its mission to also providing assistance to our local community. Through the Linkz program, ECHO Youth Ministries—which has celebrated its 16th anniversary—and Pathways Counselling, its contribution to the Emerald community has been fantastic.

During the 1860s, Church of England services were being held on private properties in Emerald. By the turn of the century, CH Nash, the vicar of St Columbs, Hawthorn, would travel throughout settlements in the hills, establishing churches. As a result of his great work and the arrival of Puffing Billy, St Marks, Emerald, moved ahead. The building was opened in 1906 and was immediately burnt down in bushfires. The second church was built the following year. Following rapid growth in the ministry and membership of St Marks, the church building was extended in 1982, 1990 and 1998.

Today St Marks has a staff of 12 and serves the people of the district through some 70 ministries or activities. St Marks offers a wide range of activities for numerous sections of the community—from the two-year-old Sparklers up to year 6 programs. The youth programs offer Explode for years 7 to 9 and On the Hill for years 10 to 12, providing young people with the opportunity to socialise and discuss life’s questions in a safe environment. School programs are tied in with Emerald Secondary College and offer kids the opportunity to discuss life issues. The Linkz program, as I mentioned, is a great connection between Emerald Secondary College and ECHO Inc Youth Ministries, which seeks to enhance the potential of young people by connecting students and schools with people from the local community. ECHO Inc Youth Ministries provides an important outreach and mentoring service to local youth and it builds leadership skills. Selected students meet with a mentor for six months and together they complete a project.

St Marks also provides support for adults through growth seminars and counselling through Pathways Counselling. Pathways Counselling sees the counsellor’s role as one of working with the client to establish both the goals and the task of the counselling process and of working together as a team to achieve these goals. Those who make St Marks such a success include Peter Crawford, Senior Pastor at St Marks; Pastor Craig Ogden; Megan Rayment and Jeff Roma, who handle the children’s ministry; Wayne Collins, Youth Pastor and ECHO director; Rhiannon Dowding, Youth Pastor; Brendan Smith, High School Outreach Pastor; Ben Mitchell, High School Pastor; and Peter Whitwood, Young Adult Pastor.

Most involved with St Marks are volunteers—and I do make that point. I am committed to supporting the important work of these local volunteers Volunteering is about people working with people to create stronger communities, and St Marks is a fantastic leader. It develops skills that help the local area. When there is a local tragedy in Emerald, St Marks is always there. It has been a great privilege for me to get to know those at St Marks. They have been very open. They have been fantastic ambassadors for the area, in particular helping young people.

St Marks has impressed me very much with the way it has realised that young people in Emerald do not have opportunities that others have. Public transport in Emerald lacks a bus service. Rather than have locals leaving the area, St Marks creates fantastic areas to keep them locally. That is so important for any community where services, such as public transport, may be missing. I also realise that St Marks offers great counselling services to young adults, and I wish to mention how many lives they have enriched. (Time expired)