News + Blog

27 December 2016

Bethany South on the journey of faith and life and Eremos

I first joined Eremos in the late 1980’s, not very long after its inception in 1982. I was a young adult, recently married, working full-time and studying theology part-time. I was on a quest and I was enlivened by my Spiritual Formation studies.


27 December 2016

Bethany South became Chair of Eremos In November 2016.

Bethany has been a long-term member of Eremos and is an active member of the Uniting Church Australia. In 2015, she completed the 4-year Residential Program in Spiritual Direction. Bethany lives in Sydney with her husband and two children.

These were my first introduction to the principles of Vocation, Sabbath, Spiritual Practice and Spiritual Direction.  They are principles that still influence the way I seek to deepen my own Christian spirituality and relate to others.

I was drawn to Eremos as it chose to express its aims in two simple slogans: deepening Christian spirituality and helping Christians to understand and contribute to Australian society.  Now, many years later I am still drawn to Eremos as it aims to provide a forum and support for individuals and groups to explore, express and deepen their spirituality in a contemporary Australian context.

Like many, I have been influenced by the church of my childhood and early teenage years.  During my childhood, I worshipped with my family in the Presbyterian church and was formed by its strong work ethic, reverence for the Word of God and awe for the person of God.  In my teenage years, the newly formed Uniting Church of Australia introduced me to the God who loved the outsider and the marginalised.  The church of my young adulthood had a strong social justice focus and sought to build the Kingdom of God on earth as an inclusive community.  

A place of great spiritual significance for me is the beautiful NSW South Coast.  With my parents and two older brothers, we would make our pilgrimage from Parramatta to the South Coast for our annual beach holiday.   I delighted in long walks along the length of the beach; clambering over the rocky headlands; floating in the current as it flowed in and out of the inlet; and bobbing in the waves on the ocean beach.  As a child it was great fun.  As an adult, I continue to delight in these simple pleasures and am grateful to have the opportunity to do so more often than just once a year.  It gives me a  wonderful sense of being accompanied, held and supported by the Spirit of God that has hovered over the waters since the beginning of time.

I have shared my journey of life and faith with many people over the years.  However, there were a number of years when I was not part of a faith community and my companions during that time were friends and books.  However, before and after that time I have journeyed in large groups and small groups; groups within my faith community and ecumenical groups beyond it.  More recently, I journeyed with others in a formation program in Spiritual Direction.  Throughout my life, books have been my constant companions.  I am currently reading Parker J Palmer’s ‘Let your life speak. Listening for the Voice of Vocation’ and Donna Sinclair’s ‘The Spirituality of Gardening’.

Now, I am an older adult.  In 2017, we will have been married 30 years and grown two young adults. I continue to work full-time, read avidly, beach-comb, float in the current and bob in the waves.  I have also recently joined Eremos Council. 

I am inspired by people who follow their dreams.  I am inspired by people who follow their calling and live out their vocation. 

Vocation – the place where your deepest gladness meets the world’s deep needs.  Frederick Buechner (American writer and theologian).


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