Our Patron: Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury

Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby

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

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 including 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 number one radio singles.

Matt says:

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

John Swinton is the Chair in Divinity and Religious Studies at the School of Divinity, 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.

John says:

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, RPsych; Psychologist, Author, Speaker

Hillary McBride is a registered psychologist, an award-winning researcher, and the host of the Other People's Problems podcast. She has a private practice in Victoria, British Columbia, and is a sought-after speaker and retreat leader who specializes in embodiment. Hillary's work has been recognized by the American Psychological Association and the Canadian Psychological Association. She is the author of The Wisdom of Your Body, Practices for Embodied Living, and Mothers, Daughters, and Body Image, and coeditor of Embodiment and Eating Disorders.

Hillary says:

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; Principal, Ridley Hall

Isabelle Hamley 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, is The Bible and Mental Health: Towards a Biblical Theology of Mental Health.

Isabelle says:

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.

Advisory Panel

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, 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.

Cheryl says:

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, The University of British Columbia

Fiona Choi received her PhD in Neuroscience with a focus on preclinical models of addiction. Following her graduate work, she applied her behavioural 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.

Fiona says:

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; Professor of Spirituality, Theology and Health, Durham University

Christopher Cook qualified in medicine from St. George’s Hospital Medical School, London in 1981. He specialized in psychiatry, and from 1997-2003 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. He was President of the British Association for the Study of Spirituality from 2014-2018. His book publications include: Christians Hearing Voices, Hearing Voices, Demonic and Divine, and The Philokalia and the Inner Life: On Passions and Prayer. In 2020, he was awarded the Canterbury Cross by the Archbishop of Canterbury for his work on interdisciplinary issues between theology and psychiatry.

Christopher says:

Over the last decade, mental health challenges have 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; Director of Trinity Initiatives Counselling and Consulting, Ltd.

Ruth Lawson-McConnell 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 Gordon Neufeld, PhD 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 says:

The vision that Sanctuary has of educating the Church around the delicate topic of mental wellbeing is an important one in order to destigmatize 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; Chair, Behavioural Sciences and Public Health Network, Director of Public Health, Hertfordshire County Council

Jim McManus's role as Director of Public Health includes a portfolio of 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 is also a visiting professor at the University of Hertfordshire. 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.

Jim says:

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.

Anne-Marie Mohler, RN; Faith Community Nurse

Anne-Marie Mohler is an RN, Certified Faith Community Nurse (FCN), and Faith Community Nurse Coordinator (FCNC). Anne-Marie is on the board of InterChurch Health Ministries Canada and serves as the Parish Nurse resource. She served as Past President of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario Faith Community Nursing Interest Group (FCNIG) and continues as a member of both FCNIG and MHNIG. In addition, she holds membership with the Canadian Association for Parish Nursing Ministry, Spiritual Care Association, and the Westberg Institute for FCN. She worked for over thirty years as a registered nurse in eldercare and for the last ten years as an FCN in Toronto. She is interested in mental health issues as they relate to the spiritual dimension of care, which is central to FCN practice. She is particularly engaged in disability theology as it connects to both a developmental disability and a mental health problem. This interest stems from her life experience as a caregiver to her adult children who live with multiple disabilities.

Anne-Marie says:

During the pandemic, I used the Sanctuary resource Faith, Grief, and COVID-19, and facilitated The Sanctuary Course. These resources helped build awareness and start a dialogue on how the Church can be a safe and welcome place for all who feel excluded and isolated. Having a health ministry in a church is a natural expression of following Jesus, the greatest physician, and his command to “love one another,” by caring for his people. Faith Community Nurses are at the frontline, aiding churches in supporting holistic health of mind, body, and spirit.

Edward En-Heng Ng, MDiv, RPsych; Registered Psychologist; Founder of Eastgate Psychological Services

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, he pastored in a small congregation for 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. Ed lives in Richmond with his wife and two sons.

Ed says:

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 Nickel 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.

Sue says:

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, RNMH; Registered Nurse, Mental Health

Farayi Nyakubaya 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.

Farayi says:

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 challenges. 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; Founding Director of Sanctuary, Vicar of St. Catherine's Anglican Church

Sharon Smith co-founded Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries in 2011 and served as Executive Director from 2011 to 2016. She 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.

Sharon says:

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, PhD, DD; Author, Consultant

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.

Rod says:

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 a competent and compassionate team, 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.

Fred Chou, PhD, RPsych; Assistant Professor, Counselling Psychology, University of Victoria

Dr. Fred Chou (周敏浩) is an assistant professor in counselling psychology at the University of Victoria and a Registered Psychologist. He completed his Masters at Trinity Western University and his Ph.D. in Counselling Psychology at the University of British Columbia. Prior to his academic position, Fred has worked as a clinician supporting children and youth with complex developmental trauma, trauma-exposed professionals, and university students. As a second generation Chinese Canadian, Fred is passionate about honouring cultural worldviews in the applications of mental health and bridging generational differences in Asian communities. His areas of research and clinical interests include mental health of Asian Canadians, intergenerational trauma, spirituality and counselling, and youth mental health literacy.

Fred says:

I was originally part of the first coach training program and was drawn to Sanctuary’s vision and collaborative approach to fostering mental health capacity in churches. I see the church as a haven for those who are broken-hearted, displaced, and marginalized. To me, church is a sanctuary for everyone regardless of life experience or ailments and therefore can and should have a vital role in supporting mental health of individuals and the community. This shared vision of what church means and the aspiration for healing and transformation that comes with the church community is what drew me to Sanctuary initially—it is why I feel privileged to continue to be part of this organization.

Thomas Wartenweiler, PhD; Dozent (Lecturer)

Thomas Wartenweiler is married to Ashleen and a father of three teenage daughters. He currently works as a lecturer at a social work college in Switzerland. He previously worked in the downtown eastside of Vancouver with people living with mental health challenges and substance use disorders for seven years. During his PhD, he worked as a research fellow at the Research Institute for Spirituality and Health in Langenthal, Switzerland, where he analysed spirituality’s impact on patients’ mental health. His interest in spirituality and mental health also stems from his own lived experience.

Thomas says:

I came across Sanctuary in its early days when I attended Sanctuary workshops while working in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. These workshops have helped me see and appreciate the potential of Christian community in journeying with people who struggle with mental illness. Trying to further understand and live out this connection between spirituality and mental health has greatly impacted my research, teaching and personal life. I am grateful to Sanctuary for this initiation. In my experience, there is still much insecurity within the Church as to how to come alongside those with mental health problems. I am honored to be a part of extending Sanctuary’s mission of equipping the Church beyond Canada.

Amy Yeung, MC, MATS

Amy has a passion for seeing young people thrive and has been working alongside them voluntarily and in paid positions in Australia and Canada for fifteen years. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, a Masters of Social Health and Counselling, and a Masters of Theological Studies (Applied Theology). She is the primary researcher and developer of The Sanctuary Youth Series and now lives in Australia.

Amy says:

When I think back on my teenage understanding of mental health, it was pretty minimal and yet, I felt curious enough to go and study the subject (despite being warned by a well-meaning church-goer that it would be detrimental to my faith). Over time, my faith remained steadfast and my understanding of mental health increased. The conversation grew more prevalent at a societal level but remained fairly quiet in Church circles. I was excited when I was introduced to Sanctuary because of the way they weave psychology and theology together with great expertise, nuance, and creativity. I feel proud of the ways I’ve contributed to Sanctuary’s work and am honored to continue offering my support as an advisor. Their resources will help all of us engage more fully with each other, ourselves, and God.