Strategic Advisors

Hillary McBride, MA, host on the Liturgists podcast, Sanctuary Ambassador

As Sanctuary's official ambassador, Hillary McBride not only consults but is someone we intentionally work with, and she is a Sanctuary representative in various national and international settings. Hillary is a registered clinical counsellor in private practice in Vancouver and PhD candidate in Counselling Psychology at 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 recently 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).

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 been meant to be all along - a place for healing and hope for all of us.

Rev. Dr. Sharon Smith, Ph.D., MCS, OT(c) - Founding Director

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

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.

Dr. Edward E. Ng, M.Div., R.Psych

Ed is a registered psychologist with the College of Psychologists of British Columbia and the Director of Counselling Services with Soma Counselling and Family Resources ( He works with adults, couples, and adolescents in private practice. His particular academic interests include cultural psychology and narrative, psychodynamic psychotherapy, and mental health and the people of God. He lives in Vancouver with his wife and two sons, all of whom humble him daily about the reach and efficacy of psychological practice.

Ed says:

One of the reasons I became a mental health professional was that after 10 years in ministry across a variety of contexts, I felt as though I would like to do "more" for my students and congregants. Sanctuary is the "more" that I wish I had seen sooner, and with whom I am proud to associate. Their mission in discipling faith communities into greater helpfulness, providing points of connection and referral, and maintaining frameworks for support groups is a good that benefits not only the local Body of Christ, but also the city of Vancouver and beyond. I look forward to being a part of Sanctuary's strategic advisor team and helping to expand the vision and reach of this worthy organization.

Rev. Dr. Richard Topping, Ph.D., Principal Vancouver School of Theology

Richard Topping is the Principal of Vancouver School of Theology and holds the St. Andrew’s Hall Chair in Studies in the Reformed Tradition. Previously he taught at Presbyterian College in the Montreal School of Theology at McGill University. He has also served as Minister at Zion and Knox Presbyterian Churches and at the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul. He currently serves on the Church Doctrine Committee for the national body of the Presbyterian Church. Richard is a regular preacher in the Vancouver area and lecturer across the country in the areas of pastoral leadership and strategic direction. Richard has published in the areas of theological hermeneutics, homiletics, philosophy of religion, systematic theology and the theologies of John Calvin and Karl Barth. His current projects include a book which examines the role of the imagination in postmodern theology and two edited collections of essays. 

Richard says:

Most church signs say all are welcome. Most faith communities I’ve been a part of struggle to keep that promise. Sanctuary provides a crucial service for those committed to hospitality to all - including those struggling with mental health. I wish I’d had access to this organization when I was serving in a downtown church. Working with a robust understanding of mental health care and providing tools for care and support, the ministry of Sanctuary equips congregations to ‘welcome one another, as Christ has welcomed us.'

Grayson Bain, Founder of Rocky Mountain Bicycle, Founding Director of the Sanctuary Board

Grayson is a prolific entrepreneurial business leader; currently President of JusTea. This tea company partners with Kenyan tea farmers to bring “justly made tea” to a broad market. Previously, Grayson was owner of West Point Cycles and founder of Rocky Mountain Bicycles, Race Face Components, and more. After selling out of the various bicycle companies, he started Grayson Designs with two purposes: to bring value by increasing the viability of new businesses and to support social and spiritual goals through business in developing nations. Grayson is active as a consultant, mentor and advisor with many organizations. Grayson served as Board Chair at Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries from 2011 to 2017.

Grayson says:

My family members carry on courageous battles with mental health. At Sanctuary, I don’t have to hide when I feel undone or stressed. What really matters is that Sanctuary people see me as a husband, father and uncle, forever touched by the loved ones that hurt deeply. Within Sanctuary, these people already know about the battle of mental unwellness. Sometimes it creeps in and other times it smashes wildly into the lives of my family. I was searching for people of faith that could easily converse and carry me in times of crisis; Sanctuary has helped me with this, and now I am no longer hiding.

Dr. Fiona Choi, Ph.D., Research Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, UBC

Fiona received her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of British Columbia with a focus on pre-clinical models of addiction. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of Mental Health in the Department of Psychiatry at UBC. Her research explores factors associated with substance use disorders, trauma, and related psychopathology. She is also involved in the development of an integrated mental health web platform for vulnerable youth, utilizing e-health tools to strengthen mental well being. Fiona has been involved with Sanctuary as a volunteer and facilitator since 2014.

Fiona says:

I once walked alongside a friend who experienced early trauma and battled with depression and suicidal thoughts. Together with a small community, we journeyed with her and gradually saw her uplifted and gain the strength in Christ to continue her walk towards mental, emotional and psychological healing. This brought me such joy. I was 14 at the time. Since witnessing the power of such transformation, I have also seen the pain of those who are marginalized for their mental health issues and struggle to be understood, even amongst those who boldly proclaim the love of Jesus Christ. 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.

Dr. Peter Meehan, Ph.D., President and Vice Chancellor, St. Mark’s/Corpus Christi College

Peter Meehan is the President and Vice Chancellor of St. Mark’s/Corpus Christi College at the University of British Columbia. A native of Toronto, he holds advanced degrees in History and Education. Following his early experience as a high school teacher, Peter joined the School of Liberal Arts at Seneca@York as a professor of Canadian History. He later served as Chair of Seneca’s School of Liberal Arts and Academic Partnerships and as Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences. During this time, he also taught as an adjunct professor in the Toronto School of Theology. Peter is a past president of the Canadian Catholic Historical Association, and has served as editor of the refereed journal Historical Studies. Presently he is completing work on the biography, commissioned by the Archdiocese of Toronto, of former Toronto Archbishop Philip Pocock.

Peter says:

An important aspect of the Christian message is hopefulness in the assurance of God’s abundant love and mercy. Here at the university, our concern for the needs of our students as whole people in mind, body and spirit includes a deep commitment to their mental health. I see Sanctuary’s support to people of faith working with mental health challenges and recovery as being vitally important to restoring a sense of hope for young people struggling with mental health as they embark on the important journeys of life and faith.
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