Our Patron: Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
About the Archbishop and patronage
The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby has been the Archbishop of Canterbury since 2013. He has three main priorities for his ministry—Evangelism and Witness; Prayer and the Renewal of Religious life; and Reconciliation. Before he began training for ministry in 1989, Archbishop Justin worked in the oil industry for eleven years. He is married to Caroline and they have five children and four grandchildren. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, making him a prominent figure in the worldwide Anglican Church. As patron, he lends his profile and support to Sanctuary as part of an ongoing relationship to raise awareness about our work, especially in the UK.
Speaking on his patronage of Sanctuary, Archbishop Justin said: “Sanctuary’s resources are particularly needed as we recover from the impact of the pandemic. The experiences of people living with mental health challenges shape Sanctuary’s work, and is underpinned by thorough research and theology. I am delighted to become a patron of this innovative organisation, and I would encourage Christians to seek out The Sanctuary Course and run it in their community.’’
Sanctuary Ambassadors are leaders, speakers, artists, and authors who value Sanctuary's engagement in the faith and mental health conversation, and whose work resonates with our own. Sanctuary Ambassadors consult, write, give interviews, and review materials produced by Sanctuary based on their particular area of expertise in mental health, theology, and the arts. Sanctuary also collaborates with our ambassadors to share our work with a broader audience and to share important resources from our ambassadors with our own audience.
Matt Maher, Grammy-nominated Artist
Since his major-label debut in 2008, Matt Maher has become a staple in the artistic and songwriting community. A nine-time-GRAMMY® nominee and three-time-GMA Dove Award® winner, he has garnered multiple radio successes, writing and recording songs such as his Top 5 CCLI songs “Your Grace Is Enough” and “Lord, I Need You” and the chart-topping radio singles “The Lord’s Prayer (It’s Yours)”, “Because He Lives (Amen)” and “Alive & Breathing.” Recording other hits such as “Hold Us Together,” “Christ Is Risen,” “All The People Said Amen,” and “Your Grace Is Enough,” Maher has written or co-written six No. 1 radio singles.
Growing up, many in my family (including myself) have struggled with anxiety and depression. I watched my own father suffer for many years and I lacked any context or way to come to terms with it. As an artist, I've understood that the bright insights that come in art are often found by people willing to navigate their shadows. I’ve experienced communities where mental health challenges have been stigmatized, and also where they’re embraced as part of the human experience. To me, Sanctuary offers a fresh, new way forward that holds up faith, clinical expertise, and lived experience as a “three bound cord” that cannot be broken.
Rev. John Swinton, PhD; Chair in Divinity and Religious Studies, University of Aberdeen; Sanctuary Ambassador
John is the Chair in Divinity and Religious Studies at the School of Divinity, History, and Philosophy, University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He worked for sixteen years as a registered mental health nurse, and spent several years as a hospital and community mental health chaplain. He is particularly interested in mental health issues as they relate to the spiritual dimensions of care offered by religious communities and as the spiritual care offered by established “secular” mental health services. He has published in the fields of disability theology, spirituality and health, and qualitative research and mental health. He is founder of the Centre for Spirituality, Health and Disability, where academics, researchers, practitioners, and educators collaborate on innovative projects researching the theology of disability and the relationship between spirituality, health and healing, and contemporary healthcare practices. John is an ordained minister of the Church of Scotland and chaplain to the King of England.
The psalmist informs us that God comes to bind the wounds of the brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3). There is a tremendous beauty in such a vision. The Church that forms itself around the resurrected Jesus is called to mirror God’s ministry of binding wounds and to become a place where the brokenhearted in all of their different forms, can find acceptance, love, and belonging. Sanctuary reminds us of what such binding and healing actually looks like. The resources that Sanctuary offers are designed to enable Christ-like responses from the Church and to guide all of us, together, to fresh places of healing and community. It is a pleasure and an honour to be part of their ministry.
Hillary McBride, PhD; Registered Psychologist; Author; Speaker; Researcher; Sanctuary Ambassador
Hillary is a registered clinical counsellor in private practice in Vancouver and has her PhD in Counselling Psychology from UBC. Her areas of clinical and research specialty focus on trauma, and trauma therapies, eating disorders, body image, sex and sexuality, embodiment, and the intersection of spirituality and mental health. Hillary's work has been recognized by both the American and Canadian Psychological Associations, and she was awarded the International Young Investigator Award for her research contributions so early in her career. Her first book is "Mothers, Daughters, and Body Image: Learning to Love Ourselves as We Are" (Post Hill Press, 2017), and she is the editor of a textbook, Embodiment and Eating Disorders: Theory, Research, Prevention and Treatment (Routledge, 2018).
I believe the mission of the church is to be the hands and feet of a loving God who longs for people to feel seen, known, cared for, and not alone. Although this includes those who are healthy, it also includes those who are suffering, struggling, hurting, and in pain, perhaps especially so. For too long, churches have been ill-equipped for this mission, particularly as it comes to people who struggle with mental health. I have a deep resonance with the work of Sanctuary because it is equipping the church to be what it was meant to be all along—a place for healing and hope for all of us.
Rev. Isabelle Hamley, PhD; Secretary for Theology and Ecumenical Relations and Theological Adviser to the House of Bishops; Sanctuary Ambassador
Isabelle is an Anglican priest, currently working directly with the Archbishop of Canterbury. She has previously held posts as a parish priest, university chaplain, and lecturer in biblical studies. Before ordination, she worked as a university lecturer and as a probation officer, combining her two passions—theology and working with people who struggle with life. She’s passionate about the Old Testament because it speaks into the messiness of life with both hope and realism, and for its relentless focus on justice. She is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4, and writes and speaks regularly on matters of public theology. She is married to Paul, an environmental scientist, and they have a teenage daughter who is easily the best theologian in the family. Her latest book, edited in collaboration with Chris Cook, explores what resources the Bible offers to talk about mental health.
In a world where we are increasingly connected with one another, it often seems that we are also ever more alone, and every day in ministry I meet people who struggle just to take the next step into the day. Listening to stories of mental health challenges is a daily aspect of Christian life and ministry, yet so often churches feel disempowered and lacking skills. So when I heard about Sanctuary, as I was planning a conference on Christianity and mental health, I got really excited! The Sanctuary Course is such a brilliant, user-friendly, accessible resource; it can contribute to the life of any church that seeks to engage more deeply with the life of its members and those they love, meet, and reach out to.
Sanctuary Advisors play a key role in our resource development. Advisors consult, write, give interviews, and review materials produced by Sanctuary. Their contributions reflect our commitment to developing informed and empathetic content that incorporates mental health, theological, and lived experience perspectives. Advisors may lend their expertise in a particular area or areas of training (i.e. psychology, psychiatry, nursing, theology, pastoral care, etc.) and may also offer insight based on their personal lived experiences. We are grateful to work with a variety of advisors who represent a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives in order to offer resources that are informed by multiple experiences and voices. The advisors we collaborate with regularly are named here.
Cheryl Bear, Nadleh Whut’en First Nation; DMin; Director of Community Ministry, First United Church
Cheryl Bear is well known as an important and respected voice on behalf of Canada’s Indigenous peoples, a speaker and teacher who has traveled to over 600 Indigenous communities in Canada and the United States sharing her songs and stories. She also visits non-Native communities (schools, government, churches, and businesses) holding workshops to raise awareness and understanding of Indigenous issues. Cheryl is a multi-award winning singer/songwriter who shares stories of Indigenous life through story and song. She is a founding board member of NAIITS, an Indigenous learning community and an Associate Professor at Regent College in Vancouver, BC. Cheryl has an earned Doctorate from The King’s University in Los Angeles and Master of Divinity degree from Regent College. Her doctoral work presents an approach to First Nations ministry from the foundations of Indigenous worldview and values. Cheryl served as a band councillor for her community of Nadleh Whut’en First Nation from 2014-2018.
I’m grateful for Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries. Throughout my life as an Indigenous person of faith, a teacher, pastor, and leader I have needed mental health support to deal with severe anxiety. And that support hasn’t always been available from the Church. Unfortunately there is too often a focus solely on the spirit. Of course this is important, but for Indigenous peoples we value balance. The body, the mind, and emotions are also important and key to healing. I believe Sanctuary is one of Creator’s strong answers to the imbalance that has existed in the Church (even going way back to Gnosticism). Thank you Sanctuary for your good and important work. I’m happy to be invited to walk alongside.
Fiona Choi, PhD; Research Associate, Institute of Mental Health, Department of Psychiatry, The University of British Columbia
Fiona Choi is a Research Associate in the Addictions and Concurrent Disorders Research Group in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of British Columbia. Fiona received her PhD in Neuroscience with a focus on preclinical models of addiction. Following her graduate work, she applied her behavioral pharmacology training to clinical research in mental health and addictions. She held the HSBC Fellowship in Addiction Research exploring factors associated with substance use disorders, trauma and related psychopathology and also a MITACS Accelerate Fellowship to explore web-based mobile mental health solutions in an acute care setting. Fiona has been working on the development of an integrated mental health web platform for vulnerable youth, utilizing e-health tools to strengthen mental wellbeing. She is also interested in alternative treatment options for opiate detoxification and withdrawal management to improve retention and treatment satisfaction amidst the current opiate overdose crisis.
My involvement with Sanctuary began in 2012 as a volunteer, followed by joining their pilot Community Mental Health Coach training program to support spiritual communities in providing care towards healing transformation. The journey through mental illness is a personal experience but I believe it does not need to be journeyed in isolation. Sanctuary instills hope through an emphasis on God’s mercy, the Spirit’s presence, Christ entering into our present suffering, and the comfort of community. I feel abundantly blessed by the opportunity to participate in their ministry. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 it reads, "but the Lord said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." I firmly believe that a spiritual community can provide much-needed mental health support, open avenues of communication, and help remove barriers that prevent potentially healing relationships from developing. My motivation for working with Sanctuary is driven by a desire to see communities work together towards healing transformation, beginning with the church and parish family, and eventually extending beyond that—possibly stirring waves outside the walls and into the larger community.
Rev. Christopher C.H. Cook, PhD; MD; MA; MB; BSc; BS; FRCPsych; Professor of Spirituality, Theology and Health, Durham University
Professor Christopher Cook qualified in medicine from St. George’s Hospital Medical School, London in 1981. He specialized in Psychiatry, and from 1997 to 2003 he was Professor of the Psychiatry of Alcohol Misuse at the University of Kent. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 2001. He has research doctorates in psychiatry and theology. Chris is now Professor of Spirituality, Theology and Health in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University, and Director of the Durham University Centre for Spirituality, Theology, and Health. He was President of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality from 2014-2018. His book publications include: Christians Hearing Voices (2020), Hearing Voices, Demonic and Divine (2018) and The Philokalia and the Inner Life: On Passions and Prayer (2011). In 2020, he was awarded the Canterbury Cross by the Archbishop of Canterbury for his work on interdisciplinary issues between theology and psychiatry.
Over the last decade, mental health has deeply affected my family and close friends. In the midst of difficult experiences, Sanctuary’s holistic approach to mental health set me on a path that helped me to better understand the experiences of those around me and how I could better respond to their needs. A healthy and effective paradigm on mental health can be transformational for communities to more effectively address mental health needs. I am privileged to work alongside Sanctuary to bring this to faith communities across the country.
Ruth Lawson-McConnell, PhD; MA Psychology; Director of Trinity Initiatives Counselling and Consulting, Ltd.
Ruth is a sought-after counsellor with twenty-five years of experience counselling adults, children, adolescents, and families. Ruth completed her MA Psychology (Honours) at Aberdeen University, followed by a PhD in Counselling Psychology at the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland. She worked as a children’s counsellor and Family Counsellor in Aberdeen before moving to Vancouver, working in private practice and training with Dr. Gordon Neufeld in attachment-based developmental approach, becoming a Professional Associate of the Neufeld Institute. She worked in New Zealand as a Senior Lecturer in Counselling, trained in Neuropsychotherapy and became a Partners of Sexual Addicts Trauma Specialist. She considers herself a global citizen, holding four nationalities, and is bilingual in English and Portuguese, having been born and raised in the Amazon region of Brazil where her Scottish parents were missionaries for thirty-six years. Ruth lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The vision that Sanctuary has of educating the Church around the delicate topic of mental wellbeing is an important one in order to de-stigmatize mental illness, and enable the church to be a vessel of compassion for the flourishing of shalom in our world. I am happy to endorse and review the resources that Sanctuary offers so that holistic flourishing can be seen in, and flowing from, the Church. I believe at the heart of the Trinity lies a deep passion “to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the oppressed captives, to set prisoners free, to comfort all who mourn” (Isaiah 61:1-2). In joining with Sanctuary, I feel privileged to join with the Trinity on this grand mission of recovering humanity to its most beautiful manifestation of the heart of God: shalom in every realm, starting with our hearts and minds.
Jim McManus, FFPH; CPsychol; CSci; FBPsS; Chartered FCIPD; Chair, Behavioural Sciences and Public Health Network; Director of Public Health, Hertfordshire County Council; Visiting Professor, University of Hertfordshire
Jim McManus is the Director of Public Health at Hertfordshire County Council with a portfolio including drug and alcohol treatment and care, health protection, and health improvement services. Jim is President of the Guild of Health and St. Raphael, an ecumenical charity which brings scientists, theologians, and pastors together to work on health and healing. He is a trustee of St. Joseph’s in Hackney, one of the oldest and largest hospices in the UK. He has worked on projects with the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health. He is Vice President of the Association of Directors of Public Health UK. In 2011, he was awarded the Good Samaritan Medal for Excellence in Health Care by Pope Benedict XVI. Jim is a Chartered Psychologist, Chartered Scientist, and Registered Public Health Specialist. Most recently, he was one of the authors of the national guidance on Local Outbreak Planning and part of Public Health England’s advisory group on COVID-19 and public mental health.
There is no health without good mental health. My public health work—particularly with Bishop Richard Moth and the Catholic Mental Health Project, FaithAction, and the Guild of Health, and St. Raphael—has made me acutely aware of the needs that churches have to become better equipped to support people's mental health and wellbeing. Healing—in all its dimensions—was fundamental to Christ’s mission and the church throughout history has set great store by this. Churches which support peoples’ mental health are at the frontline of that mission. Therefore, it was a joy for me to learn about the work of Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries in 2019. I count it an honour to advocate for them and work with them in creating resources that equip the Church with all that it needs to be a safer place for all people, especially those in the midst of a mental health crisis.
Edward En-Heng Ng; MDiv, R Psych
Edward En-Heng Ng is a Registered Psychologist in private practice in Vancouver. Prior to becoming a psychologist, Ed was a high school science teacher for five years and then, after attending Regent College (MDiv, 2008) he pastored in a small congregation for another four years before starting his doctoral studies at Fuller Theological Seminary's Graduate School of Psychology. His advisor at Fuller was Al Dueck, who introduced him to the field of cultural psychology, which focuses on how people groups tend to speak of themselves instead of relying on Western psychology to describe them. Ed's enduring academic interest since then has centred around critical psychology and the applications of cultural psychology in clinical or counselling contexts. Ed has taught at Trinity Western University and Regent College; he is also the founder and host of the Eastgate Project podcast, which focuses on the intersections of psychology, theology, and the experiences of the Asian diaspora. Ed lives in Richmond with his wife and two sons.
Some of the most influential factors in my taking up the study of clinical psychology were around my experiences as a pastor shortly after graduating from Regent College. Even though all the people around me were "saved," many languished with a variety of mental health issues. Sanctuary's mission to educate and provide support for healing relationships within the Church is one that is both dear to me and a part of the witness of the Kingdom of God to us in the here and now.
Sue Nickel - Lived Experience Advisor
Sue is a retired pediatric nurse and clinical counsellor, and the author of 'Be Held,' a daily reader for those living with clinical depression. She presently works as a Mental Health Advocate and is a lived experience advisor for Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries.
I grew up in a medical home and was a registered nurse myself but, even so, the stigma of mental illness prevented me from being honest with myself and those I loved. As a result, it was decades before I received appropriate treatment and got on the road to recovery. Part of the mandate of Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries is about opening wide the conversation and education about mental illness and the welcome therein of those suffering from it. The subsequent hope and goal is a significant decrease in stigma. It is a privilege for me to participate in this invaluable social and faith-based revolution.
Farayi Nyakubaya, BSc Gen Science; BSc (Hons) Economics and Mathematical Science; Post Grad Diploma (Personality Disorder); Post Grad Certificate (Business Administration); Diploma (Statistics); Diploma (Marketing); Certificate (Quality Assurance); RNMH
Farayi is a registered mental health nurse who works in the UK’s National Health Service. He has worked as a Dialectical Behaviour Nurse Therapist for many years supporting people living with Borderline Personality Disorder. He broadened his skills through a Postgraduate Diploma and worked as a Clinical Nurse Specialist with patients with various personality disorders who had also committed serious offences. He has experience in staff training and team development. He moved into management and managed various inpatient services treating adults with complex mental health problems. He is currently working in an inpatient Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service as a team manager looking after a service that treats young people with general acute mental health presentations and also provides specialist inpatient care for young people living with eating disorders.
We are all broken and living in a broken world. The gospel is such wonderful news because it gives all creation hope for restoration. As we wait for the second coming of our Lord, the Church should use the authority of Christ to love the broken. Those in the margins of society should find love and acceptance in the Church of Jesus. The Church already does amazing work with the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned. From my perspective, the Church needs to do more to support those living with mental illnesses and mental health problems. Sanctuary’s work in equipping the Church in loving and supporting those with mental health problems is valuable and central to the call of the Church. This is why I feel so privileged to contribute to this work and believe that every church should glean from Sanctuary’s resources to equip itself.
Rev. Sharon Smith, PhD; MCS; OT(c); Founding Director
Sharon co-founded Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries in 2011 and served as Executive Director from 2011 to 2016. Sharon has spent much of her professional career working as an occupational therapist in acute and community mental health settings in South Africa and Vancouver, Canada. She has her Masters in Christian Studies from Regent College and her PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences from the University of British Columbia. Her dissertation explored the meaning of spirituality for people living with schizophrenia. She is passionate about working with people who experience mental health issues, facilitating their integration into spiritual communities.
Being part of Sanctuary expresses an ongoing belief that Christian communities can extend love well. Having walked through recovery, I discovered this to be true and desire it to be true for others. The Sanctuary community is learning to walk this way too—facilitating safety for vulnerability, encouraging creativity, managing our capacity, and free with affection. If we can do it, anyone can.
Rod Wilson, BSc, MA, MTS, PhD, DD (Hon)
Rod Wilson completed a master’s degree in theology after he received a PhD in Clinical-Counselling Psychology. His vocational question—what does it mean to be human?—has expressed itself in three sectors. In the psychology space, he has worked as a therapist, researcher, consultant, and professor. In the church space, he has been a pastor in three different locations. In the theological education space, he has been a professor, and held multiple administrative roles, including as President of Regent College in Vancouver, Canada. Rod has written numerous articles, six books, and has a passion to speak on areas that integrate biography, theology, philosophy, and community. His conviction is that our story is intertwined with God’s story, a conceptual story, and a communal story, and that flourishing ensues when these four threads are well integrated. He has learned the most about this kind of integration in his relationship with his wife Bev and his daughter Noel, a child living with multiple disabilities.
One of the biggest challenges to mental health education, prevention, and remediation is the fragmentation that weaves its way through contemporary culture. Secularists have a tendency to wonder what spirituality has to do with mental health, as they take the transcendent out of the human. Many Christians wonder what mental health has to do with spirituality, as they take the human out of the transcendent. It is into this space that Sanctuary speaks loudly. Employing competent and compassionate staff, offering high quality resources, and establishing a trajectory that facilitates conversation between spirituality and mental health, this is an organization that offers a compelling vision and merits a hearing. I have followed the growth of Sanctuary since its inception, and consider it an honour to be associated with a competent Christian community that offers hope to a hurting world.