World Mental Health Day
October 10th is World Mental Health Day, which aims to raise awareness of mental health issues worldwide. Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries is joining in by providing a month of special online content that raises awareness of mental well-being and hosting a Matt Maher and Friends concert on October 18 in Vancouver, focusing on mental health and faith.
Recently, Sanctuary and Porters Gate released an album called Sanctuary Songs. Just under a year ago, multiple artists and musicians gathered at a retreat centre on a small island off the coast of Vancouver. They arrived from around the world, meeting at Barnabas Landing on Keats Island. They had come to explore, create, learn, digest, share, and collaborate. Though diverse in culture, race, Christian denomination, and tradition, they gathered for a common goal: integrating art, faith, and mental health.
Musicians in attendance included Matt Maher, Guvna B, Issac Wardell, DOE, Leslie Jordan, and B.C.’s own Brian Doerksen. In collaboration with theologians, mental health professionals, and people with lived experiences of mental health challenges, a remarkable gift to the Church emerged: Sanctuary Songs. It is an album of life-giving and healing ways to talk (and sing) about mental health within the context of community and liturgy. It reflects the authenticity and diversity of those gathered and is a fusion of talents and perspectives representing the breadth and beauty of the body of Christ. Through song, the album invites the listener to recognize God’s presence in every circumstance and experience, including the experience of mental health challenges. Now available on all streaming services, including Spotify and iTunes, it resonates with a wide audience. On the day of its release, September 15, Sanctuary Songs was the 11th most popular worship album on the iTunes chart.
The project was born from the partnership of The Porter’s Gate and Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries. The Porter’s Gate, founded in 2017 by Isaac and Megan Wardell, was inspired by the idea of a “porter” who seeks to offer a welcome beyond the Church’s doors. They are a sacred ecumenical arts collective, reimagining and recreating worship that reflects and impacts the community and the Church. Within their mission to extend a heartfelt invitation to all, they aim to address specific challenges facing the Church.
Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries is a Vancouver-born ministry which seeks to support, engage, and open conversations of mental health and well-being within the Church. With its free and comprehensive resources, including The Sanctuary Course, the ministry has become a lifeline for faith communities worldwide. Sanctuary’s mission is to raise awareness, reduce stigma, support mental health, and promote mental wellbeing by meaningfully engaging topics of faith and mental health. Sanctuary advocates for a holistic and integrated approach to faith and mental health.
In partnering with The Porter’s Gate, Sanctuary is pioneering yet another way to address some of the most pressing issues facing the Church and society. Recognizing that 1 in 4 Canadians will experience a mental health challenge at some point, Sanctuary believes that caring for mental health and wellbeing is an important way to participate in Christ’s redemptive work. With the belief that music has the power to heal, unite, and transform lives, the collaborative album Sanctuary Songs offers new ways of experiencing belonging in church communities worldwide. At the intersection of faith and mental health, a space that has often been overlooked or marginalized, the album invites churches to meet their congregations where they are at and to give voice to God’s presence in the midst.
As a result of the collaboration, Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries is offering the local community an opportunity to gather for a night of praise and worship on October 18, 2023, with Matt Maher, to experience a part of the album in person. Maher has graciously joined Sanctuary as an Ambassador for their work. An established and internationally recognized musician, Maher has released many popular worship songs, including “Lord, I Need You” and “Because He Lives (Amen).” He’ll be joined by special guests Jon and Valerie Guerra on stage at The Centre in Vancouver, home of Westside Church.
Throughout the evening, guests will listen to Maher’s original music and music from the newly released album Sanctuary Songs. Doors open at 6:30 pm PST, and the concert runs from 7 – 9 pm PST. Tickets are $20.
Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries, with their unwavering commitment to mental health and faith, are fulfilling a vital mission within the Church and the world. They are creating spaces of belonging and understanding where the complexities of mental health are acknowledged, and faith is a source of strength.
In an era where mental health is an urgent concern and inclusivity is paramount, the collaboration between Sanctuary and The Porter’s Gate is a beacon of hope. Music, faith, and compassion are threads that weave a tapestry of healing and unity, giving voice to God’s presence and care, transcending barriers and bringing communities together. This partnership is an invitation to listen, learn, and embark on a journey of faith and mental health – a journey that welcomes all, just as they are, in times of flourishing and in seasons of languishing.