We believe that all pastors and ministry leaders come to seasons in life and ministry that they don’t know how to navigate, and most don’t know who to talk to about it. Often, their isolation produces emotions of frustration, anxiety, conflict, depression, and doubt, among others, and many leave ministry as a result. This affects families, churches, communities, and their own souls.
Maria and Mark recognized that this isolation and lack of soul care is a systemic, pervasive problem among church and ministry leaders, and they now care for clergy and ministry leaders through authentic companionship and spiritual guidance. After decades serving in Christian churches, Maria Wilson and Mark Werner partnered together to form Gracebridge Alliance in 2015, a registered non-profit (501(c)(3) corporation).
Maria Wilson | GBA Executive Director and Spiritual Companion
Maria Wilson brings to Gracebridge Alliance over 30 years’ experience in Christian ministry and leadership. She has served as a lay counselor for 15 years and has trained other leaders in the church and parachurch and non-profit organizations. Drawing from her own most challenging ministry experiences, she now considers it a great privilege to journey with other vocational ministry leaders into their stories of redemption, healing, and wholeness.
Her passion for serving has taken her beyond the borders of the United States to Tajikistan, India, and Guatemala, where she focused on providing spiritual refreshment to missionaries, non-profits, churches and those they serve. Along the way, she graduated Magna Cum Laude from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School with a Masters of Arts in Counseling Ministries and has furthered her training by attending the Allender Center Lay Counseling Certificate Program and the Gottman Institute Marriage Seminar. Maria has been a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors since 2002.
She and her husband Don, who helped develop the vision for Gracebridge Alliance, have three adult children and one grandchild.
Mark Werner | GBA Ministry Director and Spiritual Companion
With over three decades in parachurch and pastoral ministry, Mark Werner knows first hand the challenges leaders face cultivating their own souls amid the pressures and demands of ministry. Mark believes that those in vocational ministry must rediscover the oft-forgotten disciplines of the interior spiritual life in order to sustained fruitful ministry for a lifetime!
Mark did graduate work studying for M.Div. at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and has held positions at all levels of church ministry, from youth ministry to adult spiritual formation, as well as Directing Operations and Management. Mark has completed his training in Spiritual Direction at The Mercy Center in Colorado Springs , CO. In 2017 Mark completed his certificate in training with the Wagner Enneagram Personality Style Scale (WEPSS). He regularly assists others in exploring the enneagram and conducting enneagram training seminars for groups as a valuable means for understanding our own personal growth edges. Central to his own development has been his participation the Transforming Center communities with author Dr. Ruth Haley Barton – having participated in both the “Transforming Community” and “Leading a Transforming Church.”
Mark experienced his own “dark night of the soul” crisis during his journey in ministry in his mid 40’s . Now, he loves nothing more than helping others to have vitality and faithfulness through caring, compassionate soul care. Mark and his wife Valerie have been married for 28 years and have four children and one grandchild. He loves to cook pizza in his hand-built brick oven and unleashes his inner angler on the many local lakes and rivers.
Rebecca Gehle | GBA Marketing and Development Specialist
I came to Gracebridge when things were happening in my life I didn’t know how to handle and who to talk to about it. I loved serving God at a church, but felt uncertain about what was happening in my heart and needed guidance from someone who understood and could encourage my authenticity. I was overwhelmed, disoriented, confused and anxious.
Maria met me exactly where I was, without shame or expectations. She has walked with me since, helping me recognize the value of my own soul, apart from loving and serving others. I didn’t realized that even though I was reading my Bible, part of a church and loving community, I had put my identity in serving and doing, instead of simply being a beloved child of God.
Now, my relationship with God is deep and rich, and my emotions are freely shared with compassion and grace. I realize I’m on a journey and I don’t need to ‘fake it until I make it’ to show others I have faith in God. For the first time, I have peace, and I’m now able to talk with others about the necessity of caring for themselves, their souls, so they can continue to serve God faithfully wherever they’re led and no matter what transitions happen in life. We’re all a work in progress, forever in process, and I now accept it joyfully.