The School of Theology and Ministry’s Center for Religious Wisdom & World Affairs is excited to welcome its newest team member, Rev. Maggie Breen, as Community Engagement Manager. Maggie brings a great depth of experience in community outreach and coalition-building, organizational development, and pastoral leadership in ecumenical and interreligious contexts.
As the Executive Director of Renton Ecumenical Association of Churches (REACH) and as Associate Pastor at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, Maggie has been at the forefront of regional efforts to develop an interfaith and action-oriented public theology. Specifically, she has stewarded effective multi-stakeholder community responses to homelessness – the Center’s current issue – and its causes.
Over the past five years, Maggie has led REACH through incorporation as a non-profit organization and developed extensive community partnerships around two programs that provide meals, shelter, companionship, and navigation towards housing and other services. Under her leadership, REACH’s family shelter has moved 140 families into more permanent housing since its opening in 2013; and its meal program engages 14 churches and community groups in feeding and building community with homeless and hungry neighbors.
Maggie is also an alumna of the School of Theology and Ministry (Master of Divinity, 2013) and has received numerous awards for her social justice and ministerial work. These include the Dr. Leo Stanford Leadership Award from Seattle University; the Gertrude Apel Pioneering Spirit Award from the Church Council of Greater Seattle; and a Renton Outstanding Citizen award from the City of Renton, Renton Chamber of Commerce and Renton Rotary for her work with REACH and its Center of Hope.
Most recently, Maggie has served on the Center for Religious Wisdom & World Affairs’ Advisory Board and as a member of the Center’s pilot Puget Sound Interfaith Network for Public Theology.
As Community Engagement Manager, she will help translate the Center’s work into educational resources for local religious leaders and communities that seek to engage in more effective faith-based action around specific social issues.
“I have faith, and I give thanks, that God is calling me into this new role with the Center for Religious Wisdom & World Affairs at Seattle University. I am excited to be part of a team that takes seriously the need for rigorous dialogue between scholars and faith-based practitioners, and is working so hard to help the community uncover smarter faith-based action together. This role fits so beautifully with the mission I have given myself to since I started on this ministry path: to serve God by helping to nurture a church that is deeply connected and responsive to the gifts and needs of its own component parts, and to the gifts and needs of the wider world.
During my time at REACH and St. Andrew I have been changed and enriched by the stories and gifts of those I have served alongside: our guests, faith-based partners, volunteers, donors, and community groups. I have seen breathtaking love, healing, and possibility when faith groups come together to serve those who are suffering, and when we go out together to witness to the Spirit of God in the world. These last few years, particular questions have developed and crystalized in me around the church’s role in the public square. I want to know what it looks like for us to speak together clearly and authoritatively from the wisdom that grounds us, and from the suffering we have tended to together, into the systems that undergird our communities. This new role is a place where these questions will be engaged and I am thrilled that I get the chance to contribute to the Center’s work.”