We’re just a little over a month away from our first Christ & Cascadia Gathering, and we are so excited for the conversations that we’ll be having together. Below is information about the various breakout sessions you can join at the Gathering. As part of our time together, you’ll have the opportunity to attend two of these sessions. Read the information below to explore the discussion topics and get to know our facilitators. Start considering which ones you might want to participate in.

If you haven’t already, there’s still time to register. We hope to see you on April 25!

Christ & Cascadia Gathering Breakout Sessions


Session Title: Breaking into Society
Our region is infamous for being difficult to break into social groups. From “Portland Polite” to the “Seattle Freeze” and rumors of an arctic chill farther north, moving from polite conversation into actual friendships is a challenge. Everyone seems to have a pet theory on why we are this way—in this session, we’ll move from diagnosis to what can be done about it. How did you meet your friends in the area? What types of events or activities have you seen that facilitate meaningful conversation and ongoing connections? In a loneliness epidemic and the least religious area in the country, what role might spiritual leaders have in gathering people beyond worship services?

Headshot of Kate Rae Davis hiking in mountains.Facilitator: Kate Rae Davis
As the Executive Director of the Center for Transforming Engagement, Kate works with Christian leaders to restore their inner resilience and form communities of belonging. Passionate about communities that help people to live into their values with meaning and purpose, Kate loves to gather practitioners from a variety of fields, shape discussions around the opportunities of this complex cultural era, and discern how we might join God’s work in the world.


Session Title: Rewilding Worship
Among other goals, the ecological rewilding project works to restore ecological wholeness through interconnected landscapes and re-introduction of apex predators. We can look to the I-90 wildlife-land bridge and reintroduction of wolves and bears in the North Cascades as examples of this practice. Can we apply this restorative lens to our spiritual lives and worship practices? What inner and spiritual landscapes may need to be reconnected, and what apex predator may need to be restored for our worship practices to experience wholeness?

a headshot of Mary DeJongFacilitator: Mary DeJong
Mary DeJong is a spiritual ecologist, ecotheologian, wild soul guide, urban naturalist, and practitioner and guide of place-based pilgrimage. She specializes in the spiritual journey of “rewilding.” She facilitates retreats and pilgrimages in the Pacific Northwest and in Iona, Scotland that strengthen the unique and mystical interconnection between the Soul, the Sacred, and the more-than-human world.


Session Title: Ecological Leadership
In light of the crisis brought on by the degradation and destruction of Earth at the hands of humanity, as well as the clear need to reimagine Christian faith and practice, people of faith are faced with urgent questions: How do we as individuals live in more ecologically conscious ways? What does it mean to lead others in a time of ecological crisis?

Leaders who seek answers to these questions are faced with a distinct challenge: the dominant paradigms and practices of Christian identity and mission are mired in the same theological, ecclesial, cultural, and philosophical frameworks that created and perpetuate our current crisis. But the current moment also presents an opportunity to deconstruct these frameworks, cultivate new paradigms of leadership, and create new models of discipleship and mission.

Forrest Inslee headshotFacilitators: Forrest Inslee with James Amadon
Forrest is Executive Director of the Pacific Rim Institute, the host of the Earthkeepers podcast, and the Associate Director of Circlewood; James is the Executive Director of Circlewood, an organization committed to cultivating ecologically-conscious faith praxis.


Session Title: Which Way Is Forward? Church in the Age of Decline
Let’s be honest, no one has a clue what is going on! North American churches are experiencing a crisis of declining membership and numbers of clergy as well as an existential crisis rooted in what worshiping communities look like in a post-Covid pandemic and secular world. Let’s talk about what the church might look like as we exist in this uncertain time and move into an unclear future.

Joel KiekintveldJoel Kiekintveld
Joel is the Co-Director of the Anchorage Urban Training Collaborative, the host of The AnchorED City Podcast, the pastor of Reclaim, and a Street Psalms Senior Fellow. He is an affiliate professor at The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology and an adjunct professor at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. He was ordained as a Commissioned Pastor by the Christian Reformed Church in 2008. Joel lives, works, and plays in Anchorage, AK, with his wife Stacey and his three daughters Naomi, Emma (and wife Kelsy / grandson Luka), and Sydney. Joel lives in intentional community in the Dimond Estates trailer park.


Session Title: Ministry After Mars Hill
What is distinct about leading/being a congregation in a place so harmed by organized religion? What are ways people are gathering to find community in Cascadia? What does leadership look like? We will discuss how people are or are not finding hope and connection in Cascadia and what it takes to lead with humility and grace in this unique context.

Rose Madrid Swetman headshotRose Madrid Swetman
Rose is the Associate Director of the Center for Transforming Engagement. Rose is a pastor who is the founding co-pastor (currently a Teaching Pastor), along with her husband Rich, of the Practicing Church in Shoreline, WA. She is the founder of Canopy Scholars, a nonprofit that partners with local agencies to provide tutoring and STEM programs to a diverse population of Shoreline Elementary School students, prioritizing students participating in the National School Lunch Program, and is the former Regional Leader in the Northwest Region of Vineyard USA. Rose and Rich have a blended family of 8 children and over 25 grandchildren.


Session Title: Building Diverse Communities of Belonging
In reflection with Dr. Willie James Jennings’s book After Whiteness, Ron will help us explore the culture of the Pacific Northwest and our progressive ideological platitudes that sometimes are limited in their embodiment. Ron will guide us in a conversation regarding the attributes and attitudes that can cultivate communities of belonging. You don’t need to have read the book to participate! We’ll look at questions like: What is racism and how has it impacted you? How do you see it manifesting itself in the Pacific Northwest? Who are your conversation partners? To move forward, what do we release and what do we grab hold of?

Ron RuthruffRon Ruthruff
Ron Ruthruff, Associate Professor of Theology and Culture, is also an ordained clergy person providing training and support for grassroots urban leaders serving youth and families in hard places around the world. His education is an eclectic blend of social work, counseling, and theological studies, including a Doctor of Ministry in Complex Urban Settings degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the author of The Least of These and Closer to the Edge. He and his wife Linda live in south Seattle in the Rainier Valley, a multicultural neighborhood. Ron and Linda’s mission is to equip individuals to lead lives of purpose, to empower faith communities to love their neighbors, and to engage communities in cross-cultural and global conversations.


Session Title: Evergreen Denominations
In this session, we will explore ideas about how existing denominational structures can provide deep roots and far-reaching arms, yet also embrace the evergreen, renewing work of the Spirit. What does it mean for our denominational structures to stay “evergreen”? How might the Cascadian landscape inform the rhythms of church as it ages and seeks new life? What do the old things around us have to teach us?

Seth ThomasSeth Thomas
Seth Thomas is Minister of Word and Sacrament at St. James Presbyterian Church in Bellingham, WA. He is a pastoral leader within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) denomination and completed a D. Min from Portland Seminary in Leadership and Spiritual Formation. A lifelong Cascadian, Seth and his family are deeply rooted in Bellingham, where they appreciate the breadth of God’s natural beauty. Seth has spent much of his ministry career exploring how spiritual practices can integrate with the rhythms of our lives. Seth also serves on the staff of the Center for Transforming Engagement, working with regional congregations in the Transforming Communities project.

If these topics have piqued your interest, please register now! We look forward to learning alongside you.



  • Christ & Cascadia

    Christ & Cascadia fosters conversations about the opportunities and challenges facing the Christian faith in “Cascadia” (SE Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and parts of Western Montana and Northern California). Through our online journal, we foster the exchange of ideas and best practices among Christ followers—to explore, imagine, and create the future of Christianity in Cascadia.