Most churches have leaders and various structures of leadership. Our vision of church leadership – whether pastoring, discerning, or stewardship – hinges on a desire to embody a spirit of friendship. Friendship is what God initiates (John 15:15) and leaders in the Abbey seek deepening friendship with God and others.

Friendship with god

Our primary work as leaders is responding ourselves to God’s gracious invitation to a deep and intimate friendship. It is from this posture – what Jesus describes in the gospel of Luke as the “one necessary thing” – that everything else flows. Having spiritual directors, practicing sabbath, and developing our own rhythms of prayer and scripture all play into this.

Second, leaders ought to help people respond to God’s invitation to deep and intimate friendship with them; to cultivate this friendship by enhancing their awareness of God’s presence, communication, and activity in their lives, and giving them time and space to respond accordingly.


Finally, our work involves intentionally deepening our friendship with one another, as well as with and amongst our people.


Currently, West End Abbey is pastored (from the Latin pastor which means “shepherd” and connotes one who tends, cares, and guards) by Suhail Stephen.

The Abbey is also served by Doug and Rachelle Houlbrook, who comprise the “Discernment Friendship.” They offer leadership, vision, and discernment and have done so since our church began.

We also have a “Stewardship Circle” which is currently comprised of Doug Houlbrook, Natalie Tamang, and Amy Olesen. The Stewardship Circle supports the spiritual vision of the Abbey and oversees financial matters.

Suhail Stephen

Suhail was born in India, grew up as a missionary kid and has lived in seven countries. He is a spiritual director, the founder/director of Sustainable Faith’s School of Mercy and Justice, and a teacher in Sustainable Faith’s School of Spiritual Direction. He and his wife, Jennifer, have two children, Anaya and Marcus. He loves being with his family, film, music, reading, writing, travel, good conversation, and football (FC Barcelona!).

You can follow him at:

Doug and Rachelle Houlbrook

Rachelle and Doug were married in August, 2000 and have two children, Isaiah and Saige. Rachelle grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba as an only child. She enjoyed spending her childhood years at Betula Lake, exploring the forest, water skiing, and ski-dooing. Rachelle completed her second year of Spiritual Direction training with Sustainable Faith in 2022. Her vocation is in mental health as a nurse (since 1997) and she currently works at a hospital in Ambulatory Care. She loves people’s sacred stories and dancing. Doug grew up in Sarnia, Ontario and is the oldest of three siblings. He works as a research nurse in Child Asthma and Allergy. He likes spending time with his family, motorcycles, and golfing.

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