Our hope at The Seattle School is to be led by our alumni and their stories. Mallory Redmond graduated from The Seattle School in 2013 with her Master of Arts in Theology & Culture (MATC). She recently joined the Alumni Quad, part of the team caring for alumni of The Seattle School. We are grateful for the opportunity to have a conversation with Mallory and to hear more about her experiences, insights, and gratitude, including the formation and preparation she received through her MATC for “wild and holy work”.
How was your time as a student at The Seattle School?
I adored my time at the school. The hardest part for me was how quick it was. It was two years when I was there, which was almost a little whiplash-y. Because I was also not a Seattle resident, there were a lot of big transitions [at the start], and then, obviously, the first-year experience is most likely pretty disruptive.
How was the first-year experience disruptive?
So many mind-blowing things. So much newness. I was raised in an evangelical home: I’d never been asked to consider broadening my theology, my way of thinking, and my thinking about my own childhood trauma. None of that for me was the norm. So it was disruptive in that sense. There was support and care from the school community throughout that first-year experience.
What led you to the MATC degree?
I’d heard about the program and the school and I kept feeling this tug to attend. The website, the materials, everything resonated with me. I thought, if it works out, I’ll keep moving forward. It all unfolded pretty easily for me. I chose MATC because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I never had a vocation in mind. I was 24 years old, and two years felt like a long time. And then I’d figure it out.
How has The Seattle School shaped your life and vocation after graduation?
It was by and large the best investment of my life. There’s not even a question. I would do it again in a heartbeat. It completely changed the trajectory of my life. It impacted not just my vocation but also the understanding of who I am in the world. It led me on this path of self-exploration, understanding race, ethnic dynamics, what my impact is as a white woman in the world. I was never challenged to think about my whiteness. It completely changed how I carry myself in the world, how I do and will raise my kids.
I left Seattle. I got married and my husband got a job in Ohio. So when he got the job here in Ohio, it allowed me to stay home and write. I pursued my own writing career and I wrote for different publications. That started getting really lonely.
I ended up becoming a pastor. We started attending a small church here. I met with the lead pastor to see if he had any job opportunities, and I ended up getting a job with him. I started as the community pastor, pastoring the small group leaders, and then slowly started taking on more responsibilities. I would preach and lead the staff. My experience at the school completely set me up for it. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I hadn’t gone to the school. The Seattle School completely prepared me, without me knowing it, to be a pastor.
The church, after Covid, it closed, and so now I’m sort of in a middle space vocationally. I’ve done some work in the hospitality industry. I’m considering becoming a spiritual director — I took a spiritual direction class at The Seattle School, and I really loved it, turning back to that love now later.
My experience at The Seattle School is woven throughout my entire personhood. It bleeds out into everything I do. It was always meant to, that’s why I felt that tug. I needed the influence, education, and experience, academically and relationally, in order to be who I’m meant to be in the world, in and out of the workplace
How did The Seattle School prepare you for ministry?
I think the way the school approaches theology in this expansive way allowed me to do that with our congregation. I preached much different sermons after the school than I would have if I hadn’t. I used the influence of my time at the school in that I could bring a different lens to stories that we’ve all heard so many times. Dwight’s class on hermeneutics, Chelle’s theology classes where we would read theologians from different people groups, these classes were so mind-blowingly expansive. Why didn’t anyone teach me this [before The Seattle School]? We all read the same old white men. To my pastoring, I was able to bring the literal readings or theologians, but it also changed the way I look at theology. That expansiveness allowed me to use different authors, to be more expansive. It changed my posturing in how I wanted to deliver a theological message to a group of churchgoers.
Why are you interested in spiritual direction?
I’m looking for that one-on-one spiritual connection. There’s a part of me that’s always wanted to do counseling but I don’t want to do therapy. I do love sitting one-on-one with people and sort of being a guide or a mentor. I have a spiritual director and it’s been a beautiful experience. I was an AI [Assistant Instructor] when Keith Anderson taught a spiritual direction class and I just feel that’s what’s next for me.
What’s your life like currently?
I miss Seattle dearly. I miss it so much. I’m in Dayton, Ohio. I’m just in the thick of motherhood with a 4.5 and a 3-year-old, two girls, so I’m just figuring out how to raise girls in the world. I’m just loving being back connected more connected to the school, on the Alumni Quad, so I’m excited to continue with that.
What advice would you give to students starting at The Seattle School?
To future students, I would say Bravo. You are doing big and brave work by pursuing any degree program or track at The Seattle School. I believe it was Keith Anderson who called us students “provocateurs of change.” What a high calling in the world. And, we will not provoke change without first being provoked, so know that every emotional or academic hurdle is unto something greater, preparing you for the wild and holy work, healing, and inspiration that you will offer the world. Take care of yourself, welcome care from others, and know you are joining a unique, loving, and provocative community who are changing the world one conversation, sermon, painting, therapy session, bedtime story, or music lesson at a time.