The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology will host the 2024 Integrative Projects & Portfolio Symposium on Thursday, June 20, when students from our MDiv and MATC programs will share the projects that serve as a capstone of their time in graduate school.

This year’s students will showcase two types of scholarly work, both deeply integrative in nature. Integrative Projects explore a question that haunts the student, engaged through research, reading, and conversations with peers and faculty. Integrative Portfolios present a collection of a student’s work that includes reflection on their vocational goals and integration of their learning in the classroom and in their field study experiences. Both represent a culmination of students’ engagement over the course of the program, with each student’s distinctive embodiment of text, soul, and culture. 

At this annual symposium, The Seattle School’s alumni, current students, faculty, staff, and the Seattle community at large are invited to witness and celebrate the bold, thoughtful, and creative work of our graduating theology students, work that can be glimpsed in the abstracts below, listed in alphabetical order by last name. 

In the coming months, final drafts of each Integrative Project will be available in The Seattle School’s library after the candidate’s graduation. Videos will be added to this blog post as they become available.

Chris Curia, MATC: Community Development 2024

A Liberatory Horizon: Reimagining an Equitable Mental Healthcare Landscape


Mental health equity is the pursuit of fair and just opportunities for all people within their communities to experience flourishing as they understand it. America’s current mental healthcare system is unjust, hindering flourishing for everyone, especially vulnerable populations, who face an increased risk of restricted access to and quality of mental healthcare. In this paper, I utilize community and liberation psychologies to underscore the disparities in the mental healthcare system and reimagine an equitable mental healthcare landscape. I advocate for innovative, trauma-informed, and community-centered care alternatives to the current mental healthcare system through a partnership program I call the Public Library Initiative.

Drawing on learnings beyond psychological models, I propose this innovative partnership model to prioritize civic engagement, mutual support, and shared values toward equity. This model leverages the resources the national public library system provides to include pro-bono mental healthcare services through drop-in telehealthcare clinics. This partnership between public library services, mental healthcare providers, and their communities divests from unjust logic within current care models and invests in fostering meaningful change. Moreover, it draws on restorative resources and the wisdom of local communities to utilize the tools to achieve mental healthcare equity in their contexts based on their needs, resources, and values. Ultimately, I envision a future in which mental healthcare is a shared right and universal reality, where every person can access quality mental healthcare barrier-free and has access to the support they need to flourish.

Alex Grodkiewicz, MATC: Ministry

From Mastery to Play: Losing Control of God


Often theology becomes a way for us to, in the words of scholar Willie Jennings, practice the “Possession, Mastery, and Control” of our world and those around us. Whether the words of our favorite pastor, posts from our favorite internet voices, or the writings of our favorite scholars: theology becomes a tool of perfection. A way to signal our expertise, enlightened opinions, and mastery of the divine. What if, instead, we approached God with the curious playfulness of a child? Interested less in our own authority and more in the joy and wonder of imagining what goodness, truth, and beauty might mean for our lives and the lives of those around us.

This work sets out to imagine what decolonized faith might look like for those outside of formal and academic settings. A liberative theological anthropology for those who don’t have time to try to figure out what “liberative theological anthropology” means. A call to allow ourselves th freedom, once again, to be curious and playful as we navigate this complicated world.

Holly Greenidge, MDiv 2024

Redefining Church Vitality: An Integrative Approach 


Many organizations focus on congregational vitality or pastoral resilience/renewal. This integrative project looks at the intersection of these two. Specifically, this project proposes a new way of defining church vitality that considers several lenses – including pastoral resilience – within the North-American context.

Resilience is essential for pastors. However, we do pastors and church leaders a disservice by teaching them only to be more independently resilient.With a shift in our approach to congregational vitality, perhaps new methods could create church systems that don’t require as much resilience for the day-to-day, reserving it for the truly unavoidable. Could the church be a healthy environment where both the congregation and the pastor can thrive? Could congregational life even be a healing experience for both the congregation and the pastor? Pastors pour their hearts and souls into nurturing vibrant congregations, often at the expense of their own well-being. The pursuit of church vitality should not come at such a profound cost to those leading the way. This project re-examines the definition of vitality in the context of church. Changing the paradigm of vitality holds the possibility of a profoundly healing effect for pastors and congregations.

To explore this I draw upon ecclesiology and gain insight from Bowen’s family systems approach. I also refer to writings about pastoral resilience, which weave together the fields of psychology and practical theology. Another area within the field of psychology that I will utilize concerns the impact of addiction on families and organizations. Finally, I look at pastoring as a profession within our current North-American context, with its complex interplay of capitalism, racism, and patriarchy.

I believe a search for a new definition of church vitality is well worth our time. This paper presents eleven categories inviting movement from standards based on white dominant culture, North-American capitalism, and family systems built to enable addiction, toward methodologies that help congregations and pastors build the capacity and energy to live, endure, and develop.

This paper proposes that any evaluation of congregational vitality would embrace factors that create healthy places for pastors to work, while avoiding toxic church culture, white supremacy culture, emotional unhealth, and traits of addictive organizations.

Kenna Hight, MDiv 2024

Fearful, Fearful, We Adore Thee: Reconstructing Existential Fear


What does our contemporary apathy and fear of forces we can’t control have to say about our relationship with the Divine? Does humankind need to be afraid of G-d, of whatever forces we believe to be at play in the world? Does that G-d want us to be afraid, threatening annihilation? The church, especially now the white American church, has manipulated and weaponized an idea of the “fear of the LORD” based on a mistranslation from the Hebrew text to the Greek one. Weaponizing this idea has created a culture of existential fear and numbness that makes us hesitate to trust or reach out to the Divine or each other. An exploration of a more accurate translation shows a different understanding of experiences with G-d as seen in stories of Moses, Elijah, and Jesus with his followers. Though this fear is totally understandable, seeing G-d with an anticipation of expansiveness rather than a fear of concealment would have powerful real-world implications.

April Little, MATC: Community Development

Reflections and Reclamations: A Creative Writing Workshop for LGBTQ+ Christian Youth


There are many harmful narratives about LGBTQ+ people, including queer Christians. We are told that we’re on a slippery slope to hell, that our desires stem from trauma or confusion, and that we just need to pray or read the Bible more to see the “error” of our ways. As a queer Christian, much of the deconstruction and reconstruction of my faith has been through the reclamation of my story, and the stories of the queer people who have gone before me, as a protest against the narratives of conservative evangelicalism. It is the stories of queer Christians in their memoirs and in keynote speeches (as well as real-life connections with my queer kin) that led me to become affirming, and it was in beginning to write a memoir in my undergraduate studies that I started to become a theologian. Writing gave a voice to the girl who kept her sexuality a secret for five years, and hours of research into biblical interpretation, coupled with my creative writing classes, allowed me to to create a language of my own to describe my experience of God–it was empowering. That is what I want for every queer Christian youth–to not be afraid to question, explore, find their voice, and be celebrated for their gifts. 

I hope, in the way I live, to be the kind of person I wish my teenage self had, and work towards a world where every LGBTQ+ youth knows they are so deeply loved. As an outpouring of that vocation, my Integrative Project, a five-session workshop curriculum, brings together the voices of LGBTQ+ theologians such as Austen Hartke, disability-focus theologians such as Frances Young and Joanna Leidenhag, and spiritual memoirists such as Rachel Held Evans and Austin Channing Brown. Through the curriculum’s content of presentation slides, handouts, and writing prompts, I offer a program to facilitate LGBTQ+ Christian youths’ exploration of making meaning from their life experiences in light of a God who loves them and declares that their stories matter, and to create a space where all questions are welcomed, all stories are heard, and everyone is safe to bring their full selves.

Haley Mayer, MATC: The Arts

Lament and Healing: A Personal Journey Through Lamentation, Reflection, and Reconstruction


This presentation represents an extension of myself and my community. The last two years of listening to and having conversations with decolonial, liberation, womanist, and indigenous theologians helped me to understand my voice and my story as also indispensable.

Last term, I planned, implemented, and facilitated an event called Rock the Resilience on April 9th. It centered around domestic and sexual violence awareness mediated through local artists, community connections, and educational experiences. At the time of this event, I had already resolved to create my own personal art for the final presentation but struggled to determine its focus. What you see today is inspired by three women from my local community who boldly shared their personal stories through poetry and art dealing with their experiences of sexual assault. From the stage, their honest, artistic offerings gave me courage to explore the covert ways in which I have dealt with sexual harm.

In giving a platform for others, I was empowered to dive into my own poetic exploration of the ways in which domestic and sexual violence have impacted me in the context of Alaska – a state with one of the highest rates of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault – and evangelical circles with its propensity towards diminishing, silencing, and objectifying women. The reciprocal nature of this experience turns high theology and high concepts of art on its head. It elevates the voice, the body, and the story of the real over pretty ideas. The project defies the abstract and demands presence: rooted in community, in people, and their art.

Emily Poulain, MATC: Community Development 2024

Let Go, Sink In: A Pursuit of Wholeness Through Communal Lament


Over the last few decades female theologians, historians, and scholars have diligently endeavored to elucidate how/where Christian texts, theology, and church culture have harmed women. In American Evangelicalism, this harm is perpetuated by women’s ministries that either reiterate highly stereotypical female identities and gender roles or require women to sever themselves from their embodied experiences to approach their faith through typical Western, white, male cognitive frameworks. Philosopher Esther Meek highlights the conflation of objectivity, truth, and the male mind in her description of our culture’s defective epistemological default, and how it is placed over the subjective, and female. Womanist New Testament Scholar Angela Parker describes how Christian academia perpetuates this message, making it difficult for their female students to bring their lived experience and wisdom into biblical scholarship and ministry. 

During my time at The Seattle School, I have discovered how patriarchal mindsets and methods of ministry have embedded themselves in my psyche. This manifested itself most clearly when I was attempting to move forward with a project for others while my own grief was threatening to drown me. Activist Ben McBride and community developer Peter Block argue that effecting change in the world necessitates personal transformation. They contend that maintaining unchanged methods will not yield different outcomes, yet this is precisely what I was attempting to do. 

This project documents my rejection of this mindset in favor of embracing my wholeness and becoming. Following the pattern of the Christian life, I trace my journey of communally lamenting the harm I have experienced as a woman drawn to ministry in a patriarchal church through confession, and a baptismal death and resurrection. It provides a descriptive model for communal healing and recenters revelation of the divine in the experiences of the marginalized.

Rachael Proulx, MATC: The Arts 2024

Death to Life: A Reimagining of the Valley of the Dry Bones


“The task of prophetic ministry is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us.” ― Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination

We witness and experience trauma daily. Do we process what we see? How do we handle the emotions? My task is to create a space alongside others to lament and hope together.

You’re about to watch a behind-the-scenes look of the creative process of Death to Life, a live performance showcasing multiple artistic disciplines and collaborations exploring the question, where is hope in death? The concept and title are influenced by the prophetic writings in Ezekiel 37. The valley of the dry bones reflects the trauma I see in the world. The pain I felt witnessing the global trauma in 2023-2024 was explored in my critical social theory, exegesis, and social and cultural diversities classes. That trauma instigated a personal process of study and creation leading to this endeavor.

The project serves three purposes: 1) to delve into theological study, 2) showcase the creative development stages of a live production, and 3) host a production for secular audiences informed by theological methodologies—contextual, constructive, postcolonialism, and performance. Psychologically, I lean towards Adlerian and phenomenology with respect to cultural sensitivities.

Danielle Riley, MATC: Community Development 2024

Towards Belonging: Cultivating Places of Belonging and On Being the Church in Our Communities


Faith communities are not typically safe spaces for all. They can be places infused with a culture of conformity and culture that does not allow for everyone to feel a sense of belonging within those communities. The church has become, in many ways, a club of who is in and who does not belong, leaving many to feel excluded. Some have had experiences of outright violence in these spaces. Some of the reasons for this othering are things like disability, race, gender identity, sexual identity, cultural spiritual practices, socio-economic status, and many others. Some of these issues are of a practical nature. Individuals have substantive needs that can be met with program support, case management, financial assistance, as well as affordable options for things such as housing, job training, child care, food insecurity, and much more. 

The church can be a place where both of these issues are addressed simultaneously. Many church properties are located in central community locations, with an abundance of space in their buildings and on their properties. Much of the time this space is barely utilized, and then only on Sundays for worship services, likely in a way that is isolated from the greater community.

Based upon my research into Indigenous spirituality, disability theology, neurodiversity in the church queer theology, and issues of white supremacy in the church, I believe the Church has the ability and a responsibility to be the church in so many more ways than worship on Sunday mornings. 

In this project, I will draw upon my context and experience as a reconnecting Indigenous woman enrolled in the Cherokee Nation. I explore how faith communities fail to create spaces of belonging and spiritual solace, most notably for people from marginalized contexts. I will also explore how the church has caused harm and failed to become places of growth, equity, and diversity where we can learn and grow across differences.  

In my integrated project and portfolio, I will explore the ideas of belonging, the church’s role in community development, contextual ministry, and ways faith communities can curate their gathering spaces to turn away from some of the issues that marginalize people. I will address some challenges of the context I currently serve in and provide some ideas for practical ways of doing ministry by partnering with community stakeholders to offer support services to meet those needs and a new worshiping community with marginalized people’s sense of deep belonging in mind. 

Carson Taylor, MATC 2024

From Walls to Welcome: Deconstructing and Reimagining Community Care for People with Severe Mental Illness. 


This project explores how dominant U.S. society has responded to individuals with severe mental illness (SMI) over the past sixty years since the 1963 Community Mental Health Act (CMHA). Despite efforts toward deinstitutionalization, people with SMI continue to face marginalization and stigmatization. Through the lenses of liberation psychology and postcolonial theologies, and inspired by personal family histories, the project critiques the current mental health care system and envisions a future centered on dignity, respect, and community care for individuals with SMI. Part I reviews federal policies and social norms through the social determinants of mental health framework, highlighting the systemic inequities leading to disproportionate rates of homelessness and incarceration among people with SMI. Part II contrasts this with the inclusive, stigma-free model of care in Geel, Belgium, where people with SMI are integrated into family and community life. Part III identifies the 2023 Whatcom County Jail tax initiative as a reflection of the continued reliance on incarceration to address mental health crises and presents a creative reimagination of community care. The project ultimately calls for a shift in societal values and practices, advocating for a collective reimagining of community care for people with SMI.

Robert Zint, MATC: Ministry 2024

From Pulpit to Podcast: Storytelling About the Art of Paying Attention


From the left bookend of my life, the early adult years, I was immersed in somewhat subconscious efforts to validate my masculinity and navigate ministry positions; both efforts weighted down with my evangelical background and its confines of protocol and dogma.Occasional epiphanies would provide glimpses of a future life, but I was primarily “flying by the seat of my pants,” – and yet simultaneously on autopilot. As a Captain, navigating a course while on autopilot is unimaginative, at the least. At worst, it can be dangerous – especially if you aren’t paying attention.

It is appallingly easy to be lulled into an unimaginative life of faith; to pay little attention to – not only our fellow humans – but also to the Creator who relishes our engagement. The amount of distraction and deceit is also legion, actively robbing us of real flourishing and replacing it with appealing fakery. It took disruption for me to recognize these truths.

Now, approaching the other bookend of my life, the pulpit of my yesteryear is morphing, taking a fresh form as a podcast and perhaps other avenues. As a Storyteller, I’m excited to explore the ways in which to “tell,” inviting others into the slowing of pace, the cultivating of imagination, and the paying of attention.