On September 17, representatives of the Seventh-day Adventist Church attended the annual National Prayer Breakfast in the Great Hall of Parliament House, Canberra.
Among the Adventists in attendance were Pastor Ken Vogel, secretary of the Australian Union Conference, Dr Daryl Murdoch, director of Adventist Schools Australia, Jo Darby, Adventist artist, and James Standish, RECORD editor. Adventist School student Shea Standish accompanied her father.
It is an honour to be present in praying for and with these people that have such influence over the Australia of today and tomorrow.
The theme for the weekend-long Prayer Breakfast was “leadership in the modern world”. Speakers included former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd (click here to read his address), who shared how faith influences leadership in today’s world, and Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Julie Bishop.
Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd (left) with Pastor Ken Vogel, secretary of the Australian Union Conference.
“It was encouraging to see our political leaders put aside their differences and give recognition to God as the source of wisdom and power needed to guide the affairs of our nation,” said Dr Murdoch.
Pastor Vogel agreed, noting: “Opportunities to support our democratically elected leaders do not arise often. But the annual National Prayer Breakfast is one such opportunity. It is an honour to be present in praying for and with these people that have such influence over the Australia of today and tomorrow.”
In a gathering that included high profile politicians, senior church leaders and prominent business people, one might assume an eight-year-old girl would go unnoticed. Shea suggested she wear her school uniform to the event so that she could “represent my school.”
And that she did. When Mr Rudd met Shea, he looked at her cardigan and read “Adventist School”. He then commented on his appreciation of Adventist education. Later in a conversation with Ken Vogel, he specifically mentioned an Adventist school he is familiar with in his district. Shea also met NSW Senator Ursula Stephens, who was also interested in the school she attends.
Shea Standish with Kevin Rudd (left) and NSW Senator Ursula Stephens (right).
Dean Smith, a Western Australian Senator, sat at Pastor Vogel’s table. One week after the event in Canberra, Pastor Vogel followed the contact up further, spending an hour with Mr Smith in his office in Perth.
“We discussed many matters together, including personal faith, the Protestant Reformation, the origins and purpose of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, trends and challenges facing Australia, and issues relevant to the future of religious freedom in our country,” reports Pastor Vogel. “Before parting I was able to pray with Senator Smith.”
“People in high places with a genuine personal Christian faith have a strong sense of responsibility and accountability before God while understanding that there is a wise and safe separation of church and state in our wonderful nation,” reminds Pastor Vogel. “As fellow Christians we should do all we can to affirm, support and encourage them in their personal faith and pray that God will give them wisdom in their secular duties.”