Pastoral Friendship

Most churches have leaders and ours is pastored (from the Latin pastor which means “shepherd” and connotes one who tends, cares, and guards) by Suhail Stephen, Doug and Rachelle Houlbrook, and Deanna Stearns. Friendship is what God initiates (John 15:15) and we feel that “Pastoral Friendship” best describes our vision of the pastoral vocation: deepening friendship with God and with one another.

Friendship with god

Our primary pastoral work 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, we help our 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 pastoral work involves intentionally deepening our friendship with one another, as well as with and amongst our people.

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 is currently working on her first year of Spiritual Direction training with Sustainable Faith. 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.

Deanna Stearns

Deanna is a “differently-abled” woman who grew up as a preacher’s kid in the Maritimes. She has a Bachelor of Theology, completed Sustainable Faith’s School of Mercy and Justice and is currently finishing Spiritual Direction training with Sutainable Faith. She has years of experience engaging at risk/marginalized youth and families through various camps and as a youth worker. She is an encourager who loves to bridge connection in each space she walks into. Deanna recently moved to the West End and is learning to love God and her neighbours more deeply. She loves being outside, napping, laughing, singing, baking, reading, writing, shedding messy tears in prayer, and living in childlike wonder at God’s movement around her.

You can follow her at:

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