On June 3, 2023, The Seattle School community, including faculty and staff (past and present), students, alumni, and our families, gathered to celebrate and play, to remember and give thanks for 25 years of living our mission, and to mark how we have known God’s faithfulness through it all. 


The day began with worship led both online and on-campus by Amber Englund (MACP ‘15), Lisa Harrell (MAC ‘06), Wendell Moss (MAC ‘08 & Allender Center), and Veronica Moss. Alumni Daniel Tidwell-Davis (MDiv ‘10), Jocelyn Skillman (MACP ‘13), and Sarah Steinke (MACP ‘19) shared poetry. During this session, we also launched a community art project designed by Jordan Dowell (MATC’17), Rebekah Vickery (MACP ‘21 and Allender Center), and Petra Malekzadeh (Allender Center); all members of the community were invited to assemble a tabletop mosaic using tiles composed of stone, brick, and images that represent both our individual stories and story we are writing together. This table is intended to be an Ebenezer for our community in the 25 years to come.

Festival of Play

Later in the morning, the Festival of Play began at locations in Seattle and around the country as community members connected with each other. Some in Seattle headed to the local beach at the Olympic Sculpture Park to check out the sea life at low tide with staff member Julie Leung. Many gathered around tables in the Back Alley on campus to play board games including Risk, Ticket to Ride, and games created by faculty member Paul Hoard. Clay Clayton and Paula Womack (MACP ‘10) hosted Kitsap folks at Evergreen Rotary Park for frisbee and snacks. Ariana and Philip Hayes (MATC ‘23) led people on a bird walk through Seward Park Audobon Center. Alums around the country were invited to join in the play — including a gathering hosted by Bay Area alumni Jari Russell MACP ‘11, Ryan Moore MACP ‘12, Liz Moore (Ryan’s wife), and William Moore (Ryan’s son).

Happy Hour

Happy Hour began at 4:00 pm PT in the Commons with special signature cocktails and live jazz music from saxophonist Jayme Koerselman (MAC ‘04) as faculty connected with alumni and students. Meanwhile, the kids frolicked with their faces painted and balloon artists’ creations in hand. A slideshow of written blessings from founders and former staff and faculty played, reminded us again and again of our mission, our calling, and the ways we have been formed by one another over the past 25 years.

Annual Spring Banquet

By evening, Student Leadership had transformed the Large Classroom into a banquet hall. Legos on the tables symbolized each individual’s value as well as the community we built together. Colorful flowers and decor added to the energy and celebration at each table. Community members gathered to enjoy a delicious dinner from Jack’s BBQ and to hear stories of what this 25th year has held for us.

Deb Montgomery, (MACP ‘09), ushered us into a sense of shared communion with her songs on the guitar.

Founding President Dr. Dan Allender spoke about our mission in a video clip from the 25 Year Anniversary Benefit Dinner. A slide show in memoriam recognized members of the community who have passed away since 1997.

Executive Director of the Allender Center Jeanette White (MACS ‘10) along with Center for Transforming Engagement Director Kate Davis (MDiv ‘15) and The Other Journal Editor-in-Chief Zac Settle each shared how their work builds on and expands the mission of The Seattle School.

Dr. J. Derek McNeil, President and Provost, looked toward the next 25 years, sharing a vision that included adapting learning models, expanding program offerings, pursuing partnerships and collaborations, and supporting diversity of thinking and identities all with the purpose of sending healers and rebuilders into the world. Celebrating our history and our future, the President emphasized how persistence in relationships with each other and with God sustains us through the many challenges we have faced and will continue to face together. 

La Danse Awards

The annual La Danse awards were given in recognition of four community members who exemplify our mission of text.soul.culture through their labor, love, and impact. This year the artist commissioned to create the La Danse Award was a spouse of a student, Jess Odhiambo. 

This year’s award recipients included:

Faculty: Lauren Sawyer, PhD (MATC ‘14)

Staff: Ligaya Avila

Students: Chris Curia, Emily Knorr

As a surprise addition, President McNeil honored Paul Steinke (MACS ‘05, MACP ‘23) and his family Sarah, Pierce, Selah, and Elle, for their 20 years of service to The Seattle School. 

And as is our tradition, we closed the banquet holding hands in a circle and holding one another’s faces online and took turns praying for one another. We closed with the Circle Prayer gifted to us so many years ago by Navajo followers of Jesus. 

For the final celebration of the day, those gathered in Seattle enjoyed dancing in the Commons with DJ Beezonwax.com Zadok Wartes (MACS ’08) and Loyalty Wartes. Dessert from Seattle Pops also made the ending sweet!