The History of Sanctuary Counseling Group


In 1965, a Charlotte District Hospital Ministry was begun under the district leadership of Rev. Glenn Lackey and, subsequently, Rev. Dr. Harlan Creech. Rev. Sidney Head was appointed chaplain for this new ministry. Offices were located in the Doctors' Building at 1012 Kings Drive in Charlotte, NC.

Before long, Rev. Head was doing a significant amount of counseling in addition to his responsibilities as hospital chaplain. In 1967 the name of the service was changed to the Methodist Counseling and Hospital Service, then to the Methodist Counseling and Hospital Ministry, and eventually to the Methodist Counseling Center. Changes in name reflected a shift in priority from hospital ministry to counseling and seminars for ministers.

The Early Years

In 1974, Rev. Sidney Head resigned to enter private practice, and Rev. Gary H. Brown, Ph.D., was appointed as Executive Director. Dr. Brown, who had served as a parish minister in the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church for fifteen years, was certified in marriage and family therapy, sex therapy, and clinical hypnosis. In 1978 the office was relocated to the Randolph Medical Center, 1928 Randolph Road in Charlotte. In addition to providing counseling services, Dr. Brown provided psychological evaluations for candidates for ordination, coordinated the Residency in Ordained Ministry program, and administered the Pastoral Counseling program for clergy on behalf of the Board of Ordained Ministry.

By the late 1970's the hospital ministry was phased out as medical institutions began employing chaplains internally. New therapists joined the staff of the Methodist Counseling Center on a part-time basis, and the Albemarle, Gastonia, Salisbury, and Statesville districts became co-sponsors of the ministry, spreading its range of influence. Educational opportunities for United Methodist pastors and churches were increased, and part-time satellite offices were opened in Concord and Statesville.

By 1993 the Methodist Counseling Center operated with a corporate office in Charlotte, a part-time satellite office in each of its five supporting districts, and had a full-time staff of three counselors and a secretary.

Later Development

Dr. Brown resigned as Executive Director in 1993 to enter semi-retirement and to open a practice in Davidson United Methodist Church. In March 1994 Rev. Louis B. Reed, D.Min. was appointed Executive Director. Dr. Reed was certified by AAPC, AAMFT and ACPE. It was assumed by the Board of Directors of the Center that Dr. Reed would begin performing the responsibilities for the Board of Ordained Ministry previously performed by Dr. Brown; however, the BOM chose to contract privately with Dr. Brown to continue in those capacities.

A period of strategic planning resulted in the following developments:

  • Incorporation by the State of North Carolina
  • Accreditation as a Service Center of AAPC
  • Joint sponsorship with the Presbyterian Samaritan Counseling Center of Pastoral Counseling Training and Pastoral Care Specialist Training.
  • Opening of additional satellite offices
  • Change of name to Methodist Counseling & Consultation Services

Rapid population growth in the Charlotte metropolitan region, coupled with increased visibility on the part of MCCS, produced steady growth in counseling referrals and in inquiries from other congregations regarding the opening of satellite offices.

In 2015, MCCS celebrated 50 years of service. Since those early days, the ministry has spread to a dozen satellite offices—in Charlotte, Belmont, Concord, Gastonia, Hickory, Huntersville, Monroe, Pineville, Matthews, Shelby, and Statesville—providing mental health counseling, pastoral counseling, and educational opportunities to persons throughout the western piedmont of North Carolina. In addition, therapists with MCCS once again began providing assessment services for incoming clergy candidates for the Western North Carolina and South Carolina conferences of the United Methodist Church, working with the Boards of Ordained Ministry for both conferences.

Finally in June 2016, under the leadership of our board of directors and executive director Dr. John Arey, MCCS underwent another name change, becoming Sanctuary Counseling Group.

Mission Statement

Being dedicated to the healing of heart, mind, and soul, we provide excellent emotional, spiritual, and relational health care to all people of the Carolinas.

Sanctuary Counseling Group is an accredited service center of the Solihten Institute.