Sally Smith (Chair) – Baptist
I have been teaching SRE for 30 years and still love it. I believe that SRE helps a child develop spiritually, enriching their life by bringing another dimension that schools are not generally equipped to offer.
The tools taught in SRE can give comfort in tough times and make for more resilient kids. The Bible stories covered in SRE aid children’s understanding of western art and literature and provide background to many terms in the English language. Kids who do SRE have an advantage!
I trained as a primary school teacher and taught in Victoria before marrying Phil and having the privilege of being a stay at home mum to our three girls. (They are now married with their own children.) Since then I’ve been a writer and publisher of children’s resources in Australia and overseas. In recent years my main work has been designing curricula and writing lessons for Scripture teachers with CEP (Connect) the Bible Society and until early in 2014 with Godspace, where I was SRE Consultant and developed training courses.
My place on the committee is as the rep for Baptist Churches. What a joy to be able to work with the other church reps in this way to serve all the SRE teachers across the region.
My wife and I came to Ashtonfield in 2004 after living in Sydney. My first experience in SRE was 2011 yet teaching Scriptire has been part of my teaching load for most of my 42 years in high school classrooms. My wife is a third generation nurse, as is our daughter.
Our son evaluates Aid Programs.
We have three grand children. Sharing the Gospel message in class is an enormous privilege.
Kate Baker (Secretary) – Anglican
I am currently serving the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle in the role of the Diocesan SRE Co-ordinator. I also teach and Co-ordinate SRE at 2 local public schools. Prior to this I worked for about 12 years in Environmental Education, after completing a degree in Environmental Science. I really love working with children, and value the observations and comments that they contribute. I believe that children are a gift from God, and that they are not empty vessels waiting to be filled up. I enjoy learning about God together with the children. Another area of interest to me is storytelling and I use this regularly in scripture classes and at church. I especially like what Jesus said about children in Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
It is a huge privilege to be involved in this ministry. I am married to Richard and we have 2 children. Richard works full time as an engineer and also teaches scripture, so we are a scripture teaching family!
Zofia Slupik (Treasurer) – Catholic
My involvement with the ministry of SRE began shortly after I arrived in Australia in 1977 firstly teaching children in state primary schools in Maitland and later teaching whole classes from a joint denominational perspective again within the state school system. I currently teach at Lochinvar state primary.
In 2003 I was invited to serve on this committee as a Catholic representative to assist in the provision of support and training for SRE teachers, which included the planning and delivery of training courses, encouragement days and conferences. I currently hold the office of treasurer on this committee.
It is an honour and privilege to be a part of this ministry.
My Vision: That all children come to know the love of God that they may become fully alive and reflect the glory of God. In the words of Jesus “I have come that you may have life and have it to the full”
Jenny Harris – Australian Christian Churches (ACC)
In 2011 I again joined the Hunter Christian SRE Committee as the Australia Christian Churches (AOG) representative. Due to work commitments, I had to resign in 2007 but am very pleased to be able to again serve on this committee.
I have always been passionate about children’s ministries and have been involved in many ways over the years including Sunday School teaching, SU Beach Missions, playgroup, kid’s club, Sunday crèche and SRE teaching.
I became involved in SRE in 1990 when my sister rang to tell me that their church had said that SRE teachers were needed at my son’s school (he had just started Kindergarten). I attended the 6 day training that CCRESST (the original name for Hunter Christian SRE Committee) conducted and have taught ever since. I also coordinate SRE at the 2 schools where I teach. I am married with 2 children and 5 grandsons.
Malcolm Causley – Uniting
I was born in Maclean and grew up on a farm on Chatsworth Island surrounded by family and friends. My family were members of the Free Presbyterian Church. I completed a Rural Science Degree and Diploma in Education at the University of New England. I met my wife in the Presbyterian Youth Fellowship in Armidale.
I was appointed to Dungog High School in 1973 to teach Agriculture and Science. I was invited to join the Uniting Church by my Science Master. After five years in Dungog we moved to Lismore, where I taught at Richmond River and Kadina High Schools.
In 1988 we moved to Singleton. I was appointed Head Teacher of Agriculture at Singleton High School. In 1990 I joined the staff of Tocal Agricultural College at Paterson. In 1996 I joined the Department of Corrective Services at St.Heliers Correctional Centre at Muswellbrook. I worked as a vocational trainer and education officer. I retired from full time work in March in 2010. I completed Certificate III in Aged Care in 2010. I volunteer at Elizabeth Gates Aged Care facility, enjoy playing in pipe bands, chair the Singleton Christian Education Association, involved as a lay preacher in the Uniting Church and participate in the Hunter Presbytery Social Justice Committee.
My wife and I are content in Singleton. My wife lives with Multiple Sclerosis. We have three grandchildren in East Maitland. Our eldest son is a psychologist. Our second son is progressing well through psychiatric rehabilitation in Orange.
Amy Soutter – Anglican
New to Newcastle but not new to SRE. It wasn’t long after arriving in Newcastle that I heard of the valuable work of the Hunter Christian SRE Committee. Their support of Scripture in the local schools through the provision of training, information and encouragement to both coordinators and SRE teachers. Having experienced the benefit of this I was keen to join the committee to assist in this ministry.
Having taught SRE since I finished my HSC I am amazed that we have this open door to intereact with children in our public schools. Engaging with them as they explore their own values and beliefs. Teaching students not only about (the Christian) God but also the religion on which our Australian society was founded and assisting schools to prepare them to be citizens of this great world.
I have graduated from both Youthworks and Sydney Missionary Bible Colleges, had wonderful experiences being trained to minister to children and practiced this in varying capacities as both a volunteer and employee. I currently serve with my husband Nick at ANeW Church and coordinate Primary SRE for the Newcastle SRE Board. I love teaching my students seeing their enthusiasm and hearing their deep questions.
I love teaching children the Bible. I am a trained Secondary History/ English Teacher, then was a Children’s Pastor for 10 years in the Presbyterian Church. Today I work for Newcastle SRE Board and love teaching SRE weekly as I have for the past 20+ years. It is such a privilege to be able to teach creative lessons where children can explore their big God questions and know that they are loved unconditionally by a loving Father God.
I have grown up in and around Newcastle/ the Hunter Valley and I am super excited to be able to serve on the Hunter SRE committee as the Presbyterian Rep. Married to my favourite South African in the whole world and love enjoying God’s beautiful world together camping, fishing and swimming.
My connection with this group has been a long one. When I began teaching SRE many moons ago I encountered the predecessor to the present CCRESST group (called the JDEAG) as a new SRE teacher who wanted to learn as much as possible before facing a class of children. I did a few courses with this group and found them extremely helpful and rewarding. Once I began working in the capacity of a support and resource person for SRE with the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle it was a requirement of the role to be involved in the Hunter group.
Over the last 14 years I have served in many different capacities, and thoroughly enjoyed sharing my knowledge at training events and helping to organize celebrations such as the garden parties. I remain firmly convinced that this ecumenical body is the best vehicle for promoting and supporting SRE in the Hunter and Newcastle region. I have now achieved the status of associate member – not an officially recognised denominational representative – just someone who will do what she can to further the work of SRE and recognise the fantastic work of so many wonderfully committed SRE teachers.
These people till the earth in preparation for sowing the seeds of the kingdom, and sometimes even get to nurture little shoots!