The initial vision was stirred as I drove down the Crumlin Road in Sep 2009 approaching the old disused Carlisle Memorial Church building. I felt God say that it was time to “open up the old well”, just as Isaac had opened up the old wells which had been dug by his father Abraham. As I reﬂected on this impression a few strands of my recent ministry experience seemed to come together and a vision was planted.
At that time I had been practicing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy(CBT) in Monkstown and I was also a minister in the ﬁrst united Anglican/Methodist Church in Ireland and saw how unity of Christians could impact the local community. I had also spent many years integrating psychology and theology and was doing a PhD in pastoral theology, looking at Mindfulness-based CBT within a Christian worldview. Furthermore I was also trained to teach Centering Prayer at Contemplative Outreach, Ireland. These strands came together into a vision for the integration of spirituality and psychology in united Christian safe space.
In my work as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist I witnessed the importance of the spiritual dimension to many clients as well as the obvious psychological problems. I observed how change in one area e.g. thoughts, could lead to change in another, like behaviour. I also witnessed how changes in psychological well-being could lead to spiritual growth. In some cases I saw how a spiritual change could also help an individual psychologically. Therefore the CBT service in Monkstown and Rathcoole was holistic and explicitly acknowledged the spiritual dimension of the client, if the client was so inclined. This made the service unique.
In Sep 2009 I believe that God called me to incarnate this integration of spirituality and psychology in a fresh expression of church, working in the ’old well’ around the Carlisle Memorial interface in North Belfast. This is an area where people are fragmented within themselves and with each other. It has some of the poorest mental health in Northern Ireland.
In June 2012 I was commissioned by the Methodist Church to pioneer this vision and I intend to commit the rest of my life to the development of a centre for Christian Spirituality and Psychological Wellbeing. I want this to be a safe place for healing, empowerment and hope. I also see this mission as a 21st century expression of Church united and rooted in the traditions of Celtic Christianity and the Christian Contemplative.
Furthermore I want Well.com to be a peace-making, reconciling centre which can help people reconcile as individuals within themselves through psychotherapy and spiritual direction; with others through relationship building; and to God through Jesus Christ.