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29 July 2017

Friends of Eremos Featured: Spirituality in the Pub

Competent, articulate people who have something worthwhile to say are invited to present their thoughts in a pub setting, sparking questions and conversation. Spiritualty in the pub (SIP) is an initiative of Catalyst for Renewal.

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29 July 2017

Spiritualty in the pub, begun in 1995, 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”.

Photo by Kevin Baird | Creative Commons

The idea is a simple as it is effective:  two competent speakers 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.

After its beginning in 1995 on the first Wednesday of the month at the Bellevue Hotel, Hargrave Street, Paddington, a second venue was established in 1996 in Pymble.  Now there are pubs which host 'Spirituality in the pub' in a number of suburbs of Sydney, in country centres and interstate – in Victoria and Queensland.  At last count it was 15 – either up and running or in the course of setting up.

In an era of declining involvement with, and attendance at, formal institutional religious events and services, 'Spirituality in the pub' (SIP) seems to be tapping into a real need in our society.

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.

All seem to find in SIP something much richer and more transforming than mere intellectual debate or discussion.

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.

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