Thrive Ministries provides church leaders with resources and support when they need it most. We focus on spiritual, relational, physical and emotional health through specialized groups and services.
The reality of ministry leadership today includes many pastors, pastors’ spouses and families who are mourning. They are mourning the loss of thriving church ministries that have been destroyed, ministry visions that have not been realized, personal lives that have been devastated, emotional, spiritual and physical health that has been impaired, trust that has been broken within their Christian leadership circles…. and the list goes on. Some limp along, isolated from others, relying on God for his healing and comfort in their lives. All too many others walk away from the call of God, too wounded or disillusioned to continue in ministry. Far too few receive the support and resources they need to totally recover from their experiences and re-enter the race without baggage and stronger from working through and being transformed by their challenges.
Meet our dedicated staff/volunteers:
Cathy Gates – Thrive Ministries Director
Cathy has a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from the University of Ottawa. For many years she worked in public health, focusing on health promotion and disease prevention. In 2000, after a 20-year career in public health nursing, Cathy felt called into full time ministry as executive director of an evangelical church. Her experience in leadership during a very tumultuous time in that church’s history gave her a real sense of the challenges faced by church and ministry leaders. She witnessed and experienced the toll leadership can take emotionally, relationally, spiritually and physically. Cathy’s public health background gives her a unique perspective as a person of faith and as a person in ministry. She encourages Christian leaders to thrive in all areas of ministry and life through coaching and education. Some of her specific areas of interest are burnout prevention and healing from life and ministry experiences through formational prayer. Cathy holds an Executive MA in Strategic Leadership from Southwestern Assemblies of God University, Texas. She has completed the Formational Prayer Certificate Program through Ashland Seminary, Ohio. During 2009 Cathy worked with PastorCare Clergy Support Network as the National Leadership Development Director. She currently serves on the board of Aftermath Foundation – an organization dedicated to providing education about psychopathy and supporting individuals who are victims or relatives of those affected by psychopathy. Cathy is married to Brian Cook. Brian serves the Lord through 12 step recovery programs and prison ministry. They have three adult children, Rob, Ken and Trisha.
John Garner – Pastoral Advisor
John was born in Lindsay, Ontario and adopted at the age of one month by Jim and Olivia Garner. A ‘God thing!’ He was raised primarily in St. Catharines and was enjoying a career in men’s wear retailing when he experienced a definite call from God to begin training for pastoral ministry. He studied at Central Baptist Seminary in Toronto and graduated with a Bachelor of Religious Education. For 35 years John has served in pastoral ministry, currently serving at Redeemer Bible Church in Niagara Falls as Lead Pastor. John was the founding Director for Willow Creek Canada and has spoken at conferences for Willow Creek, Focus on the Family and Promise Keepers. John and his wife Peggi have spoken as a couple in different workshop settings on the theme of ‘Marriage and Ministry.’ John has been married to Peggi for over 30 years. Peg is an R.N. who serves Christ in the work setting as well as more pastoral, missions and leadership settings. They are grateful parents to two adult sons, Peter and Jordan. Also, very grateful for a great daughter-in-law, Jessica, married to Jordan. And, as of June 27, 2011, John became a ‘papa’ to Jonathan George Garner, son of Jordan and Jessica. John has a passion to help see people become and grow as courageous and passionate followers of Jesus Christ. He yearns to see the local church as a place that radiates the heartbeat of Jesus which is marked by an abundance of grace and truth. John enjoys golf, a life- long passion, having scored his first hole in one in 2008. He and Peg enjoy traveling, opening their home to friends and enjoying good food and drink. Biking and walking are a consistent part of John’s fitness commitment. Reading a wide variety of books, newspapers and magazines keeps John well stocked in’ food for thought’ and message illustrations.
Michael Piett – Pastoral Advisor
“You make me brave
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves
You make me brave
You make me brave
No fear can hinder now the promises you made”
The above lyrics come from the song “You Make Me Brave” by Bethel Music, which sums up how I have been feeling lately about ministry. Around twenty years ago I responded to what I felt was a call on my life for pastoral ministry and began the process of leaving a technical profession to pursue this change in vocation. At the time my wife and I had four children ranging from a newborn to age 5. Little did we know soon after his birth, that our youngest son would be diagnosed with a serious chronic illness which launched us into a journey of dealing with life-long health issues.
Twenty years later, being ordained, and having pastored for 11 years on and off, including two years pastoring in Saskatchewan, I am now back in my “other” vocation. The wind has been taken out of our sails. Fear has been my companion preventing me from venturing too far in the area of dreaming or going back into the waves.
To say we experienced challenges in ministry would be putting it mildly. However, today through years of healing, counselling, Thrive Ministries, and caring Christian friends we are once again beginning to step out from the shore and back into the waves. Though we may not fully understand the pain and suffering we endured, the one thing that remains is His faithfulness. It is our prayer that as He has remained faithful, we too will be faithful to our Lord and King.
We do not know what the waves will bring, but we do know that God continues to restore our hope in the future, replacing the fear with His constant, abiding love.