Spirituality In the Pub

SIP Central Coast

2023 Theme:  My Spiritual Journey


MICHAEL GILL: A practicing solicitor, grandfather and recently widowed, Michael comes from an active Catholic background, including CYO where he met his wife Kathy. Active in his Jesuit North Sydney parish, in 2018 Michael formed a small group of reform minded Catholics, called VOCAL.
He is encouraged by the possibility of change within the Catholic Church with the Synod on Synodality.
LUKE SMITH. An avid long distance runner, Luke, 28 years old, attended St. Ignatius College, Riverview, but does not participate much in church activities. He does however love exploring the bigger questions of life/spirituality, through a combination of books, life experiences and conversations with others. More recently he embraces living in the present moment.


NINA ANGELO. Born in Athens, Nina migrated to Sydney with her parents who survived Nazi concentration camps. Nina attended the National Art School and has been awarded the Order of Australia medal plus a range of other honours for her contribution to community and culture. She is
a marriage celebrant, an arts consultant, a writer and cultural activist.


MICHAEL BARNES.  Michael enjoys being on journeys, geographical and spiritual, finding them great teachers. He has learnt so much through the challenges and opportunities they throw up.  Michael was a Uniting Church Minister for over 30 years, which allowed him to ride near or beyond the boundaries of religion, and now is on a journey in retirement.


JENNIFER HENRY.  Having worked in the Public service and studied at University, Jennifer recently
moved from the country to live on the Central Coast. She has married three times and has two
children. Life hasn’t always been easy but through all the difficulties Jennifer has retained her
Christian faith.
VERONIQUE HARRIMAN.  With a background in Social Work, Veronique now works as a counsellor
for a not-for-profit organisation, after graduating with a Masters in Counselling in 2021. Veronique
lives life from the standpoint of humility and compassion which she derives from the spiritual aspects of her being.


JENI ANDREWS.  A meditator and practitioner of Buddhist philosophies for the past 40 years, in 2011 Jeni was given the opportunity to help establish and manage Central Coast Meditation Centre. Then in 2018 she had the good fortune to volunteer at a Buddhist centre in Rome, after studying Italian for many years.


RICHARD THOTRNTON.   Arriving in Australia as a ‘ten quid pom’, Richard has enjoyed parallel careers as a doctor (rural medicine for 30 years, then Palliative Care consultant for 10) and as an ordained Anglican minister. Ministry has been of an evangelical interdenominational character, mostly in small country churches.
JUDY THORNTON.  Born in Sydney, Judy has enjoyed careers as a High School Art Teacher, mother of 4, and Practice Manager. She trained in theology and has spoken at many events, and coordinated scripture teaching across Northwest NSW. Like Richard, Judy loves to sing – both have been involved in musical theatre and concerts.


DON ARCHER. A professional civil engineer, now retired, Don spent 41 years in the NSW rail system,
where he was appointed to several senior management positions. He also has been a lifelong member of the Salvation Army where he has been very active and held a number of lay positions in various congregations. His convictions as an active Christian have been a major influence in his life.


ELEANOR CASTLE. Originally from the Hunter Valley, Eleanor has lived on the Central Coast with her family since 2008. Her background is in Primary School Education, Theology and Counselling. For 10 years, Eleanor has been a chaplain in aged care and palliative care, working at Gosford Hospital since February 2022.

NOVEMBER 14 (Second Tuesday)  Special Guest Speaker

DR ANDREW KWONG:  Born in China under Mao’s oppressive regime, Andrew later made his way to
Australia, graduated as a doctor and became a Fellow of the RACGP in 1982.  He has been a GP on the Central Coast since 1979. Andrew is a multi-award writer including the Michael Crouch Award for a debut work in The National Biography Award 2021 for One Bright Moon, a memoir about his life in China and his endeavour to become a doctor.
What is Spirituality in the Pub?    SIP is a an initiative of Catalyst for Renewal which provides a forum to prompt open exchanges among the community of believers mindful of the diversity of expression of faith in contemporary Australia.

WHERE?             The Grange Hotel, Cnr Renwick St & Pacific Hwy, WYOMING 2250
WHEN?                 7.30pm – 9.00pm     1st Tuesday in March – October   2nd Tues in Nov.
Bistro meals from 5-30pm

Phone Contacts:
Terry Cooke: 4365 4502
Tony Voller: 4362 1579;
Maryke Keulemans: 4365 9197

Posted by Gay Walsh in Spirituality In the Pub

SIP/SOS 2023 Calendar

Wednesday evenings via ZOOM 7.30 – 9.00pm (AEDT)

1st March   Topic tonight is our year’s theme expanded: “Spirituality in …”. 

Two speakers: Zaahir Edries and Dr Julie Thorpe


5th April   Topic: “Spirituality in Charity and International Development”.

Three Speakers: Nick Abraham, Joe Wehbe and TBA


3rd May   Topic: “Spirituality in life after high school …” . 

Two speakers: Jordan Jensen and Emily Hausman


7th June   Topic: “Spirituality in inclusiveness…” . 

Two speakers:  Elizabeth Duckchong and TBA


5th July   Topic: NAIDOC Week theme: “For our Elders”.

Speakers Norma Tracey AM  who for more than 60 years, has dedicated her life to working with new Aboriginal mothers, fathers and children, & Matthew Smith, former Principal of Jarjum College and now Education consultant with Summit Education Australia


2nd August .  Topic: “Spirituality in Autism ” .

Speakers: Dr Rev Ann Edwards, the Priest-in-Charge at St Mark’s The Gap, Speech Pathologist, and Researcher in family centered service provision; and Randa Habelrih, the founder and director of Autism MATES; a passionate advocate and voice for those living on the Spectrum. She is an award winning speaker, author, Autism advocate and mother of Richard who is also with us this evening


6th September   Topic: “Spirituality in Medicine” .

Speakers: Dr Louisa Sondergeld, a young doctor at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane; a  lecturer for the University of Notre Dame and tutor to Medical students at the University of Queensland;  and Dr Cam Hollows


4th October     CANCELLED.


1st NovemberTopic: Spirituality in the Synodal Process”. 

Speakers: Geraldine Doogue AO, well- known television and radio Anchor, journalist, published author and member of Catalyst for Renewal: and Fr Michael Whelan sm Parish Priest of St Patrick’s Catholic Church Sydney; a founding Member and Executive Director of Catalyst for Renewal


Posted by Gay Walsh in Spirituality In the Pub

“My Spirituality: Then & Now” – SIP on the Central Coast

The Grange Hotel
Cnr: Renwick St &
Pacific Hwy,

7.30pm – 9.00pm

1st Tuesday
of the month
March – October
2nd Tues in Nov.

Bistro meals at 5-30pm

We believe that all people experience and express spirituality in their lives whether they are churchgoers or not. We hope that through Spirituality in the Pub we will be encouraging conversation about spirituality amongst people as we join in this ongoing conversation.

For more information, please see any of the SIP Committee for 2018:
Carol Bailey, Terry Cooke, Maryke Keulemans, Grahame Lesha, Denise Sims, Tony Voller

March 6
Gwen Shave: Born during the Depression years in Young, Gwen later moved to Eastwood where the Methodist Church had a big influence on her life. She and husband Roy spent many years as missionaries in Fiji, Malawi, and outback Australia. Such experiences have enriched her life and shown her different ways of “seeing”.

Clive McCormack: A retired Civil Engineer from a Methodist background, Clive spent 10 years working overseas in various developing countries. He is married with 4 children and 11 grandchildren. A qualified Lay Pastor with the UC, his spirituality has been profoundly influenced by the wide variety of denominations of churches he attended in multiple cultures.

April 3
Frank Wortley: With a spiritual journey encompassing fundamental, charismatic and contemplative Christianity, Frank is currently reflecting on the New Cosmology, and how to think and speak about God and faith in an increasingly non-religious but spiritually interested world. His work centres on training Pastoral Carers to connect and serve within the public health system.

Joan Elliot: A very senior citizen who served with the Australian Women’s Land Army during WW2, the Women’s Royal Australian Army Corps in peacetime, Joan worked with the Australian Outward Bound Movement as Administrator and Director. After retiring, she served with St John Ambulance. Currently enjoying a busy life, Joan worships at Castle Hill.

May 1
Pina Bernard: Married with three children, Pina began her working life in Information Technology. She later taught High School Religious Education and Mathematics before taking on the parish role of Sacramental Coordinator. Pina is currently a member of the Catholic Life & Faith Formation team for the Diocese of Broken Bay.

Cristina Gomez: A theologian and the Life, Charity and Social Development Coordinator for Broken Bay Diocese, in her youth Cristina was involved with Antioch. Later she studied theology and became a research fellow at Boston, and currently Charles Sturt. Cristina is particularly interested in issues connected with women, migrants, and the environment.

June 5
Rev Lorna Martin: Born in Canada & trained as Teacher & Diaconal Minister with the Canadian Presbyterian Church Lorna worked as Education & Resource Consultant before joining the Uniting
Church of Australia in 1985. She has ministered in Queensland, South Australia and NSW, and is currently at Gosford. Lorna is passionate about enabling people to use their gifts to serve God.

Sharon Clark: Sharon grew up in Gosford. She is a highly qualified Chaplain/ Pastoral Carer with many years of experience working in a wide range of areas including Hospitals, Aged Care Facilities and Community Home Visits on the Central Coast and in Sydney. Through her work she has learnt how to listen, support and journey with people wherever they are at.

July 3
Speaker (tbc)

August 7
Robert Brooks: Robert has chosen to tell you about the latter part of his life’s journey, in particular about the trauma that led him to seek help, which he found in a book by Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now, a Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. This book had a profound influence on him, for which he is so grateful.

Rev Peter Martin: Born and raised in Adelaide Peter first worked in the Printing industry for 23 years. Ordained in the UC in 1990, he ministered in SA, NSW and QLD before retiring on the Central Coast. Many difficult experiences have challenged his faith and spirituality, but God’s sustaining presence has always been a constant.

September 4
Julie Telfer: With a Bachelor of Theology, Julie has worked in Chaplaincy at RNSH & Gosford Hospital. Currently the Uniting Chaplaincy Convenor, Central Coast, Hunter & New England, Julie leads a team of Chaplains & Pastoral Practitioners. She is Chaplain to all peoples irrespective of their religious belief or no belief.

Margot Auld: A shy student who nevertheless played Bottom in a school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a woman executive in a man’s world, a nervous speaker who made regular speeches as a school principal, Margot’s spiritual journey demonstrates God’s work to mould a “lump of clay” into a useful vessel.

October 2
Rev Graham Brookes: A retired Uniting Church Minister, Graham spent some years during the 1970s working for the Protestant Church of Timor (Indonesia). He later served the U.C. Armidale Parish before becoming National Director of the U.C.’s Overseas Programs. Graham finished active ministry as Parish Minister in Lakemba, a suburb with a large Muslim population.

John Hegarty: A grandfather and former teacher, principal and counsellor in NSW and abroad, John has extensive experience as a community volunteer in many organisations, including as a Board Member of World Citizens Association Australia. At 83 he sees everybody as ordinary, extraordinary and unique, and affirms “life gets better every day”.

November 6
Special Guest Speaker
Noel Davis: An educator and former member of a religious teaching order, Noel and his wife Trish have led reflection days and weekend retreats. Best known for his writings and poetry, Noel’s passion is sharing reflections on growth to freedom in the Spirit. His challenges – to live them every day.

Posted by Bob Birchall in SIP_Dev, Spirituality In the Pub


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Spirituality In The Pub

Spirituality in the Pub (SIP) commenced in 1995 and is one of the forums for conversation instituted by Catalyst for Renewal Inc. SIP is one modest but potentially very life-giving attempt to provide a contemporary forum – what better place than in a pub! – where conversation can emerge as a transforming force. It is not “just talk”!

The idea is as simple as it is effective: Two competent speakers – usually a man and a woman – lead the conversation on a topic that is of some significance – often a social justice issue – each sharing their thoughts for a total of approximately thirty minutes. This is followed by approximately one hour when those present are invited to share in the conversation by asking questions or making comments to which the speakers and those others present are invited to respond.

The first SIP event was held at the Bellevue Hotel, Hargrave St, Paddington (Sydney) in May 1995. The number of SIP venues across NSW, Victoria and Queensland grew to over 30 by 2008 and in 2017 there are 15 groups meeting regularly.

Those who attend SIP come from a wide range of backgrounds – those who are ‘church shy’, or see themselves on the fringe of conventional religious experience; those from within the mainstream Catholic Church and those from other faith traditions; and some with no particular religious affiliations at all. Some do not believe in God. All are welcome.

Competent, articulate people who have something worthwhile to say, both from the ranks of the well known and those less known, give their time voluntarily and generously to help lead us in good, probing conversation. The number of speakers is now in the thousands across Australia.

In an era of declining involvement with and attendance at formal institutional religious events and services, SPIRITUALITY IN THE PUB seems to be tapping into a real need in our society. We seem to find in SIP something much richer and more transforming than mere intellectual debate or discussion.

Enquiries from groups interested to start SIP at a new venue are welcome. We encourage you to attend a SIP 3D Day to gain insight into the ways other SIPs work. In any event, please contact us to discuss your proposal.