Soul Shop’s creator, Fe Anam Avis began to explore the response of faith communities to suicide in 1999. At the time he was the pastor of a suburban church where three students died by suicide in a seven-month period of time. Later, he went through his own dark night of suicidal desperation, emerging on the other side with a new sense of self. His story is further detailed in his first book, A Second Day.
Fe went on to seek training in suicide prevention from Living Works Education, a global leader in suicide prevention. He worked extensively with communities for over a decade to develop regional suicide prevention plans and offer suicide awareness skills training. In 2012 he was asked to create a day-long training for faith community leaders with the goal of fostering transformation by equipping congregations to minister to those impacted by suicidal desperation. He presented the one-day training for the first time on May 22, 2012 in Cleveland, OH.
In 2015, Fe began to partner with the Pittsburgh Pastoral Institute to consolidate his learnings into a replicable ministry he named Soul Shop™. Since then, Soul Shop has become a national movement that is an now an independent entity, focused exclusively on building Soul Safe Communities