Director Kate Davis spoke at the launch celebration in March 2022

The first year of the Center for Transforming Engagement has been an exciting process of developing responsive programs and resources. The work of the Center for Transforming Engagement is to equip adaptive leaders with tools from the social sciences to lead communities of faith, hope, and love.

The Center for Transforming Engagement was founded in October 2021 and celebrated its launch in March 2022. Staff and supporters gathered in festive spaces at The Seattle School to hear from President J. Derek McNeil, Director Kate Davis, and Instructor Rose Madrid Swetman. Since its launch, the team has been connecting with and listening to ministry leaders and teams to hear about the demands of ministry in the complex landscape of our current era.

Since 2017, the team of Resilient Leaders Project has impacted hundreds of ministry leaders. The team’s learnings were developed first into a frame of the essential components of resilience. Their work with leaders’ resilience and team formation became the foundation of the Center for Transforming Engagement, the second center of The Seattle School which is continuing to grow in new directions and live out its mission in new contexts as it celebrates its 25th year.


Transforming Engagement: the Podcast, released its first two seasons this year. Season One was hosted by President J. Derek McNeil and Director Kate Davis in conversations with psychiatrist and author Curt Thompson, MD, with Jimmy McGee, CEO and President of the Impact Movement, and with local leader Coté Soerens of Cultivate South Park. In Season Two, Kate is joined by Rose Madrid-Swetman to host conversations with psychologist and author Dr. Jessica Young Brown, pastor and author Mandy Smith, a panel of current clergy, journalist Anne Helen Petersen, a panel of former clergy, and speaker and activist Lisa Sharon Harper about burnout. They talk about the causes of burnout, the experience of burnout, and methods of healing and prevention. These conversations about change that serve the common good and a higher good provide practical suggestions and information as well as hope and encouragement. Listen to Transforming Engagement: the Podcast on your favorite listening platform: Apple | Spotify | Amazon Music (Audible).

The Center for Transforming Engagement has also created downloadable resources to support leaders. Recent releases include a Daily Examen process, resources to become a better mentor, and 8 Ways to Care for Your Pastor (for Pastor Appreciation Month). The Clergy Burnout Report helps pastors, congregants, and those who work with pastors identify both the causes of burnout and sources of support. The Self-Facilitated Retreat Guide to foster Practices of Resilience is a series of exercises, writing prompts, prayers, and meditations that will help you discover a renewed vision for the rhythms and routines of your life.


In February 2022, the pilot cohort for Transforming Faith Communities began with participants from four local congregations. Through this one-year program, teams of 5 to 8 members from the same congregation journey through a process to discern their congregational identity and to reconnect with their neighborhood. Center for Transforming Engagement staff coach teams as members work together to innovate and create opportunities that fit the unique identity and context of their congregation.

In October 2022, Center for Transforming Engagement launched its first community online course, Way of Life, for participants seeking renewed rhythms that support their values. Way of Life joins a growing collection of self-paced learning offerings from the Center for Transforming Engagement.

Looking Ahead

The next offering of Center for Transforming Engagement is Resilient Leaders: Practices for Life. This 7-week online program offers tools to cultivate intentional, sustaining practices for spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. By the end, participants will have developed a personalized, holistic plan and will receive support in committing to at least one change. Registration opens December 1, 2022. Early-bird pricing ends on December 31, 2022.

In February 2023, staff will welcome a new cohort of Transforming Faith Communities. Later in the winter, they will gather friends from Christian organizations across the Cascadia bioregion to imagine and discern the future of Christ & Cascadia, which historically has been an annual conference with a year-round presence as an online journal.

Center for Transforming Engagement is recording upcoming seasons for the podcast on organizational identity, challenges and celebrations of women clergy, and burnout in youth ministry leaders. Downloadable resources in the works include self-guided retreats on aspects of resilience and a white paper report on the Center’s learnings from their work with narrative process groups.

Through these new programs and resources, the Center for Transforming Engagement remains committed to the purpose of restoring leaders of faith to live into hope and practice love. Stay connected with the Center for Transforming Engagement by signing up for their newsletter and following on Instagram.