A joint initiative of the Leaders of Christian Churches SA (LoCCSA) and the SA Parliamentary Christian Fellowship, the service was hosted this year by Adelaide’s Catholic Archbishop Patrick O’Regan on February 8.
Archbishop O’Regan said the service was an opportunity to “gather in friendship and unity, prayerfully focusing on the Parliament, its tasks, its governing councils and all those who offer their service to the State of South Australia”.
“As community leaders, let us commit to work together in unity and partnership, collaborating and supporting each other to create a flourishing community, where hope and love guide our actions,” he said.
“Together, we can make a difference, through listening with intent, noticing the suffering of others, and radiating and implementing a compassionate response, motivated by the transforming power of God in our midst.”
More than 25 members of the House of Assembly and Legislative Council attended the service along with representatives of all Christian denominations.
Reverend Denise Ferguson, chair of LoCCSA, delivered the opening prayer and presented each politician with salt from the River Murray and a small pottery dish made by Kangaroo Island artist Barb Wiadrowski.
Dennis Hood MLC, secretary of the SA Parliamentary Christian Fellowship, said the service had been going for more than 40 years and it was an important opportunity to come together at the start of the year and “reflect on what we are aiming to do and, more importantly, and how we go about doing it”.
Major Paul Hateley, from the Salvation Army, delivered a reflection called ‘Being salt to the world’.
He said salt was used to describe a myriad of themes in the Bible including purification, preservation, justice and healing.
“I don’t need to tell you that when you embrace public office that your life is no longer completely your own,” Major Hateley said.
“Other parliamentarians are watching, your constituents are watching and then there is the media and social media.
“Our electorates do not need a scandal, our state does not need a scandal, you don’t need a scandal and neither do your families.
“During my time in Canberra, I saw good lives destroyed because of a breach of integrity. I stand before you as a man of imperfections for we are all human and we are all vulnerable.
“My prayer for you at the beginning of this year is that personal integrity will be something that you each value and strive for.”
Major Hateley said he suspected that some of the bills that would be brought forward this year would have their origins in injustices, injury and pain.
“May you be the salt of the world as you consider how we can bring healing to relationship and healing to our land,” he said.
“The salt we mine today out of the Murray or the salt pans out by the Port Expressway can be consumed in centuries to come. The legislations that are passed today will serve generations to come.
“In a world that is forever changing salt is a constant.
“I pray that you will each have the wisdom that goes deep, the knowledge that goes wide and the discernment that surrounds the other two as you lead and serve the State of South Australia this year.”