Sanctuary FAQ Page

What is Sanctuary?


Sanctuary, San Diego is not what you would expect. We are an underground Christian ministry on a mission to reach out to today’s disenfranchised youth caught up in the more obscure musical subcultures. We seek out the cast-aways and the misfits from Generation X, Generation Y, the Marilyn Manson generation, the Gothic subculture, the Industrial nation, the hard-core kids. We focus primarily on the gothic/industrial subculture, but we are open to anyone into the alternative, punk, metal, hardcore, techno, and/or rave scenes. We’ve watched young people embrace the messages of nihilism and hopelessness in their music and their culture, and become convinced of the need to enter the underground and offer a message of hope and freedom. The tragedy at Littleton, Colorado showed us that this has never been more true or more necessary.


Sanctuary is a loose-knit fellowship offering to meet the spiritual needs of anyone honestly seeking the truth about God for their lives. We are here for those who seek Sanctuary and search for answers in a big, dark universe. We meet at clubs and concerts and coffee houses. We meet on-line, on the Net, in cyber-space. We meet here and there throughout San Diego. If you are visiting the San Diego area, we encourage you to contact us to see if there is a group meeting while you’re here. Feel free to e-mail Pastor Dave at or contact us through Christian Goth webpage.


Are you the Sanctuary with all those Christian heavy metal bands?


Not really, but we are related to that church. Back in the mid-1980's, Pastor Bob Beeman was approached by some friends of STRYPER. Knowing his interest in rock and roll, they asked if he would help them with a bible study they had started for friends and fans of that band. As more and more long-haired heavy metal fans started showing up at Beeman’s church, the congregation became nervous and asked him to choose between his church and his heavy metal ministry. Pastor Bob decided to leave that church and start the ministry that came to be known as Sanctuary: The Rock and Roll Refuge.


Over the next few years, that ministry grew into a church with 500-750 attending Sunday afternoon services in the Redondo Beach area of Los Angeles. Many of the most prominent Christian metal bands of the time either attended or were associated with Sanctuary in those days: from Stryper and Barren Cross, to Deliverance and Vengeance Rising, right up through Precious Death. By the ‘90s, the rock music scene had changed quite a bit, and they decided it was time to move on and start up again as Sanctuary, International in Nashville, where they are today.


Two or three years after Sanctuary started up in Los Angeles, a San Diego concert promoter named Dave Hart began doing some concerts with Stryper. He found himself continually bombarded by heavy metal fans asking questions about their musical careers, personal problems, and spiritual issues. God directed him to create a special place for these kids (almost like that movie “Field of Dreams” - “If you build it, they will come!”) So he started a group called The Rock and Roll Refuge”, totally unaware of the group in Los Angeles. Eventually the two churches found each other, affiliated, and Pastor Dave became an ordained minister of Sanctuary. Sanctuary, San Diego continues today with the original mission of reaching disenfranchised youth  on the musical edge, it’s just that the edge has changed over the last decade. We no longer focus on heavy metal, but have plunged into the deep catacombs of the gothic/industrial subculture.

What do you mean by the term “goth” or “gothic”? What is a Goth?


Goths and Visigoths were originally the primitive Germanic tribes that invaded the Roman Empire, bringing an end to the once invincible civilization. We also find the term used to refer a style of architecture, as in gothic cathedrals. From the 11th to 14th centuries, monks and artisans were commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church to build monumental cathedrals and castles. A few centuries later, the Renaissance and the Reformation periods would drastically change perceptions about art and architecture. This new wave of artists felt these old cathedrals had a bland, repetitive style. They considered these buildings gothic, which at the time meant ”an uncivilized lack of  taste or education.


Today’s Goths do not derive their epithet from either of these sources. They do not consider themselves bland, common, or uncivilized. Most goths are quite artistic, intelligent, and well read. They consider themselves unique, special, and even eccentric. Instead, the name is derived from the Victorian era of the late 19th century, the period in which the Gothic novel was popularized. It was  an era with a fascination for spiritism and the paranormal, the search for a world beyond the material plane. This fascination would later give rise to both the Theosophy and the Pentecostal movements of the early 20th century.


[It is interesting to note that the mind-set of the Victorian era was completely opposite of the late 20th century. In the Victorian era, sex and sexuality were a repressed subject, considered unfit for public  conversation. However, death was openly discussed and debated at all levels of society. Americans in the 20th century, seem to focus on quite the opposite, freely (blatantly) speaking of sexual things, while avoiding the topic of death like, well...the plague!]


The literature and poetry of this era - known as the English Romantic movement - has been  highly influential in shaping the gothic subculture. It romanticized subjects ranging from the sad to the sinistre - hence the Gothic novels explored such morbid, morose and macabre topics as lost love and madness, death and suicide, demons, ghosts, monsters and vampires. It is a literary era rooted in works like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) and John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819) [both birthed on an infamous weekend of ghost-story telling in 1816 - depicted in the bizarre Ken Russel film Gothic in 1987]; Edgar Allan Poe's morphine-riddled visions (ca. 1830s and 1840s); Robert Lewis Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1886); Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1891); Bram Stoker's "Dracula" (1897); and Henry James' "Turn of the Screw" (1898) - all of which are often favorite reading fare for Goths.


Many Goths are also well-versed in the poetry of Shelley and Byron, and to a lesser extent Colleridge and Keats - not to mention the works of William Blake, T.S.Elliot, Emily Dickenson, and Sylvia Plath.  They also tend to explore  the writings of Nietsche, Sartre and Camus, and often bury themselves in the tales of H.P Lovecraft or Anne Rice’s vampire, Lestadt. It is this fascination with the darker side of life, with sadness and death, cynicism and art, rising from the grave of the Gothic novel which most identifies today’s Gothic movement.


Today we also use the term Gothic to describe a musical subculture. But unlike most trends in music, this one is not based on the latest fad - but on music that began several decades ago. This music began in London at a club called the Batcave, where it was originally referred to as ”Death Rock.” It was something of a backlash against the colorful disco music of the ‘70s. Although  punk seemed to be breathing its last, one can claim that Gothic music grew out of punk. The music of these bands was angst ridden, but the anger was turned inwards and the music was characterized by introspective lyrics. Gradually, gothic was also connected to the revival of Victorian horror novels, and the association with vampires and the paranormal became more pronounced.


The British music magazine, NME (New Music Express) reportedly took the term from Siouxsie Sioux (of the Banshees) who used it to describe the new direction for her band. It was also used by Ian Astbury (of the Southern Death Cult, later simply known as the Cult) who described Andi Sex Gang (of Sex Gang Children) as a 'gothic pixie'. However, the earliest significant use of the term  was made by Anthony Wilson on a BBC-TV program in 1978, when he described Joy Division as gothic compared to the pop mainstream. Joy Division (whom he was managing at the time) is generally considered more of a punk band today, but they offer one source of the term. Bauhaus were labeled ‘gothic’ as early as 1979 when they released the song, “Bela Lugosi's Dead.”


Pop journalists applied the term to a number of bands in the early ‘80s. Most of these bands did not sound much like the Banshees (or anyone else for that matter), but these journalists thought they all had a similar “look.” The (Southern Death) Cult was foremost amongst these bands. Like the Banshees, they wore lots of black and silver  and had extremely dark hair, as did the Sisters of Mercy. When Wayne Hussey split from Sisters and founded the Mission (UK), they  carried the gothic label with them. The Fields of the Nephilim also cultivated a gothic image during this period, however, none of these bands sounded enough alike to define a particular gothic sound. Some have argued that Peter Murphy came closest to defining the gothic sound in his solo career after he left Bauhaus. The image was carried into the mid-80's with dark synth-pop groups like the Cure, Depeche Mode, and Morrissey of the Smiths.


Most Goths tend to avoid the crass commercialism of mainstream rock. Goths can be found in Germany, where they are called Grufties. Goths are also prominent in London, Ontario, New York and San Francisco. Some critics of the sub-culture characterize Goths as people dressed in black, standing around in circles in pubs, clubs and coffee houses, smoking cloves and talking about how to become vampires or witches. First generation Goths sometimes complain that second and third generation Goths think that being Gothic is only about wearing the blackest black, and trying to look as thin and pale as possible. Second and third generation Goths complain when Marilyn Manson is called Gothic and claim his fans  are too angry and too ignorant to be true Goths. In any case, today’s Gothic subculture is about more than just music. It’s about literature, art, fashion and music.

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