PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA: I would like to pay tribute to a man whom we are losing from the Knox community, the Reverend David Devine.
For the last 15 years, Reverend Devine has been the pastor at the Rowville Baptist Church. Last Sunday, however, he announced that he would be stepping down from this role and taking up a position with the Baptist Union of Victoria as head of Church Health and Capacity Building. This is a great gain for the Baptist Church generally but a loss for our community.
Reverend Devine has made a remarkable contribution to our local community in Knox. He has touched the lives of hundreds if not thousands of individuals over the years and provided spiritual guidance, love and pastoral support. I have had the opportunity to attend a church service of his and witness his talents in preaching. In the great Baptist tradition, he is able to take single verses of the scriptures, delve into them and explain very clearly their significance and enduring relevance for us today.
But what I have found additionally impressive about Reverend Devine is his willingness to engage in the broader public discussions in our community and get involved in community activities at large in a very practical way. I think the best church leaders are able to do this, to transcend their individual parish and provide broader community leadership. Reverend Devine has done this as well as any church leader that I know.
He has been involved in community discussions relating to foreign aid, Indigenous affairs, the need for better public transport, the requirement for church based schools to employ teachers of their own religion, mental health issues and poverty more generally. He has also been active in bringing other churches and community organisations together towards single causes, most notably the Knox Christmas Appeal, which supports those less fortunate in our community. He is a member of the Outer Eastern Prayer Breakfast Committee, which brings the broader Christian and business communities together in our local area. He has been on council committees and all sorts of other committees and activities—and I could go on. As one local resident put it to me, he is simply everywhere.
I have got to know Reverend Devine particularly well over the last few years since becoming the Member for Aston. I have valued his friendship enormously and his quiet advice, guidance and encouragement. He is a humble, decent man. I will miss him personally. I know his parish will also miss him very deeply. And our community will miss a great man who has been a tremendous leader in the very best Christian tradition. We thank Reverend Devine for his service to God and to our community, and I know that that service will continue in his new role.