Our Story

Thrive Ministries provides safe places for church leaders and their families to be open and honest about the challenges they face in life and ministry.  Some of the realities of ministry leadership today includes pastors, pastors’ spouses and families who are grieving. Ministry leaders experience a variety of  losses:  thriving church ministries that have been damaged by disunity, ministry visions that have not been realized, personal lives that have been negatively impacted, emotional, spiritual and physical health that has been compromised, 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 with less baggage and stronger from working through and being transformed by their challenges.

Through different settings our volunteers provide 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 and one on one conversations. Thrive’s volunteers have ministry leadership experience and understand what ministry can be like. So  please contact us today info@thriveministries.ca to arrange for an initial confidential conversation.

Ministry Team:

Cathy Gates – Thrive Ministries Director

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 Garner – Pastoral Advisor – John has taken a leave from Thrive while he prepares for his retirement.  We look forward to his return.

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.

David Forrest– Pastoral Advisor

David Forrest – Pastoral Advisor –

David C. Forrest has been married to April for over 50 years, currently residing in the Niagara region. In his 50 years as an ordained minister he has led several multi staffed congregations.

Since 1986 David has also functioned as a missionary evangelist in over 30 countries. In 2009 he concluded his service as the general overseer of a large group of overseas churches located in the U.S., Africa and Asia.

Our journey had its share of difficulties and often discouragements; but ultimately we emerged to joy in the morning.

Rick Wukasch – Soul Focus Retreat Leader

Rick Wukasch – Soul Focus Retreat Leader

Rick is a pastor, spiritual director, and formational prayer caregiver. He is currently retired from pastoral ministry at both Spring Garden Church, North York, and The Meeting House, Oakville Site, supporting small group community, spiritual formation, prayer, care, and relationship ministry teams.

Having been in spiritual direction for over 30 years, he trained at Tyndale Seminary and has grown in providing spiritual direction to a broad variety of people during the past 12 years. He has a special interest in journeying with pastors. Rick partners with the Holy Spirit, helping people recognize, experience, and respond to God in everyday life. Husband, father, and grandfather, Rick is most at home with family, or in the natural realm on a hiking trail, in a canoe, or in his garden.