Come to the Alumni Retreat!

Cascade Fellows is excited to announce the first 

Alumni Retreat! 


Date: October 1-2, 2016

Time: 9 am Saturday- 11 am Sunday

Location: Black Diamond Camp, Auburn, WA

Cost: $175


Come spend a night away reconnecting with Cascade Fellows alums as we engage in worship, prayer, discussion, and light teaching. Bring a friend from your cohort, or come and meet someone new. We are excited to spend this weekend reconnecting with you! 


Spots are limited, register soon!

For registration, click here: 



visions of vocation When you register we will send you a copy of Visions of Vocation by Steve Garber. 

A Special Invitation- April 1st Event

A Special Invitation

Is There A Calling in This Career?

April 1st / 7:30-9:00pm / Bellevue Presbyterian Church

Upper Campus UC-303


KCH_headshot (1)

How can we hear God’s call in our career?

You’re invited to a rich evening of discussion on the topics of faith and work, calling and career.

Kate Harris is a nationally-recognized speaker on the topics of faith, work, and vocation. She will be speaking on how God engages and interacts with us at work, and how we can have a deeper sense of calling, in our daily work.

We invite you to come and join us for this wonderful evening of conversation and learning.

The event is hosted by Cascade Fellows and is sponsored by Bellevue Presbyterian Church’s Faith+Work+Culture Ministry. There is no cost or registration. All are welcome!

Invite friends via Facebook.


More on Kate Harris.  Kate Harris is a nationally-recognized speaker on the topics of faith, work, and vocation. Her new book Wonder Women explores the challenges of career, calling, and family life. Kate started her career working for Chuck Colson and The Wilberforce Forum on several human rights policy initiatives and then spent several years working on Capitol Hill for U. S. Senate leadership and helped to lead the vocational ministry Faith & Law. In 2007, she left Capitol Hill to help start The Wedgwood Circle, an angel investment network to fund art that lifts up the good, true, and beautiful. In 2008, her family moved to England for her husband to pursue his graduate degree where, when not busy caring for their young children, Kate worked part-time to lead business development for a boutique project management firm. She also worked on a handful of special projects for the global consulting firm Oxford Analytica. After returning to the DC area, Kate joined staff of the Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation, and Culture as a writer in 2010. She was the director of the institute from 2011-2015. Kate graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a B. S. in Journalism and B. A. in Political Science. She is wife to a very good man and mother to their four young children.

“Is There A Calling in This Career?”

Kate Harris

April 1st / 7:30-9:00pm 

Bellevue Presbyterian Church/ Upper Campus UC-303


Marked By Ashes: An Ash Wednesday Prayer for Work


Photo Credit:

Marked by Ashes  By Walter Brueggemann

Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day . . .
This day — a gift from you.
This day — like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received.
This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility.
This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home
halfway back to committees and memos,
halfway back to calls and appointments,
halfway on to next Sunday,
halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,
half turned toward you, half rather not.

This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —
we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
of failed hope and broken promises,
of forgotten children and frightened women,
we ourselves are ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
we can taste our mortality as we roll the ash around on our tongues.

We are able to ponder our ashness with
some confidence, only because our every Wednesday of ashes
anticipates your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.

On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you —
you Easter parade of newness.
Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,
Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.
Come here and Easter our Wednesday with
mercy and justice and peace and generosity.

We pray as we wait for the Risen One who comes soon.

Prayers for a Privileged People (Nashville: Abingdon, 2008), pp. 27-28.

In Augustine’s Confessions, Book #2, Augustine finds that ‘recalling (his) wicked ways’ to God actually brings freedom and hope. As we lament as Christian workers the ways in which we have failed, the things we have left undone, the ways we wronged our co-workers, and the sin we are implicated into as people of the fall, we too may find the God of great grace who took on our sin, so as to embrace us. We need to ‘taste the ashes in our mouth,’ as Brueggemann states above, in order to be ‘Easter-ed into joy and energy and freedom and courage.’

In light of this, how could Ash Wednesday’s lament and confession change the ways you work? What might you confess and lament about your work to God? How might God want to meet you in this?

Faithfulness Over Balance: When Your Various Vocations Collide


It’s a tug of war, sometimes. It’s a juggling act other times. These various calls we have, at times, tend to be at odds with each other. The board meeting is during our son or daughter’s sports play offs. We are asked to serve at church, but have just gotten back into town after a long week of travelling for work. Spouses see each other late at night or early in the morning like ships passing – going through the highlight reel of the last few days only to return again to the fullness of life the next day.

We all have these various vocations we are called into, to embody in love. These are the places we’re called to serve, the people we are to influence and be influenced by, the spaces where God places us to experience him, and worship him for all his goodness. But what happens when these callings are seemingly in opposition to each other? What happens when what we’re called to doesn’t seem to fit with our other callings?

Some have gone about talking about this through the language of work/life or work/family balance. I’m not sure that balance is a helpful word for the Christian. Balance ensues that all our time, our efforts, and our energy will be poured out in equal amounts, and that somehow we will reach a place where all these roles and calls are working in harmony with each other as a result of giving ourselves equally to them. One could chase after balance, could seek to find balance their whole lives, and never achieve it.

The language which may be more helpful to seek to embody is that of faithfulness. Asking not, how can I juggle or balance my various callings? But, how can I be faithful to God, as a reflection of his faithfulness to me, in the work God has called me to, in the passions he’s placed in my heart, in the church God has placed me in, in the family God has blessed me with, and in the friendships God has orchestrated in my life?


Faithfulness in our various callings can be embodied through honing in on several things.

  1. Recognize your first call is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

We each have been called out of our sin, our selfishness, our narcissism, and called into the self- sacrifice, love, and care of Jesus. Our primary calling is to enjoy, deepen, and embody the relationship that Jesus is cultivating in our lives with HIMSELF.

This will happen in and through your other vocations, certainly, but the call first and foremost for the Christian is to follow Jesus’ example of love, service, and building of God’s kingdom on the earth. All other callings must fit under this call to Jesus himself, or our lives will be out of faithful alignment with what God has in mind for us.

How are you answering the call of Jesus to follow him today? This week? This year?


  1. Vocations are seasonal.

We may be called to serve in a various workplace or industry for a time. For some this may be a long time, like those who work in a company for 25+ years. For others it may be a few months or years. However and whatever that season is in length, we are called to be faithful for the season.

Even the retiree who leaves after 25+ years will be called by God to another calling, even if their paid work experience is over. Every season of call, things look differently. While at the beginning of your career you may have had young kids, as you get into the middle or late part of life, those children will require less of you, and you will be released to serve (time wise) in different ways. While in the middle of your career you may be travelling a lot, later on you may be able to stay more centralized, opening up your life to new avenues in that time and space. What we are called is to, is to be faithful in the season God has us in.

Thinking seasonally about our vocations releases us to be present where we are. Thinking seasonally about our vocations also helps us narrow down what we are ACTUALLY called to, and not just what would just be a ‘good’ thing for us to do.

What does it look like for you to be faithful at work in this season? What does it look like for you to be faithful at church in this season? What does it look like to be faithful to your family, spouse, children, or friends during this season?


  1. Enlist help.

We can’t all do it all and have it all. This is a lie our culture has enticed us to believe. When we follow the call of Christ in faithfulness, he doesn’t ask us to do everything, but he does ask us to do some things well and in the spirit of faithfulness. This may mean that you need to ask for help in order to fulfill the call God has placed on your life.

This can be hard, but maybe thinking of it this way will help: Asking for help may allow someone else to fulfill one of his or her vocations. Serving you or your family may be a call God places on someone’s life. Someone may be gifted by God with the love of children and can faithfully serve him through loving your kids while you are working or serving the church or giving to your marriage. Someone may be gifted with the joy of making meals- feeding you or your family may be a practical way for someone to use their gifts, giving you the extra time you need to be faithful in the ways God is calling you. Someone may have expertise in an area that you are lacking in at work. Enlisting their help, support, or advice may enable you to work in your calling in a faithful way that you couldn’t have otherwise.

What do you need right now to faithfully fulfill the call God has placed on your life? Who can you enlist to help?


  1. Give up the ‘shoulds’ and discern what you are actually called to.

Sometimes our vocations collide because life has schedule conflicts. But other times our vocations collide because we have said yes to too many things. Where we are called, God provides for us to fulfill those callings. Where God doesn’t call, we may find ourselves striving to make things work or for the pieces to fit into holes they never were meant to fit into.

When we say yes to something, we are always saying no to something else. If you are finding yourself saying yes to things out of obligation rather than out of a sense of God’s call, this may be why your vocations are colliding. Doing something because you ‘should’ do it shouldn’t be confused with God calling you to do it. Discerning these things can be tricky, but if you are finding more conflicts in your schedule and you are having to say no to the things and the people you are called to first, maybe it’s time to take an inventory of your calls and see which are from God and which are being done out of sheer obligation or guilt.

What in your life do you feel you ‘should’ be doing? Is it bringing you a sense of God’s provision, peace and joy? Or is it a weight you’re trying to make fit into the rest of your life?


  1. Live joyfully within the constraints you’re given

Each season we are called to be faithful in will come with, what Kate Harris has aptly described as, constraints. We can’t do it all. We aren’t called to do it all. But when we accept the limitations of the season we are in, this frees us up to live in joyful presence of God and those he’s called us to.

Some may see constraints as something to overcome, something to break out of, and something that holds us back. But Harris describes constraints as boundaries that hold the capacity for us to be creative within. When we don’t have all the time in the world, we are more focused. When we know we won’t be with our kids or roommates or spouses the next day, due to work commitments, we are able to live within that constraint and be truly ‘with’ them today. When we know our limits we can delegate and call on other’s resources to collaborate on projects with. Constraints hold the power of God to release us to embody the love and grace of our Savior in specific, pointed, and placed ways.

What constraints do you have in this season? How are those helpful to you? How could they be transformed to become creative outlets for your faithfulness in vocation?


Thinking through, praying through, and talking through these things can clarify your calls in the current season you find yourself in; enabling you to live freely and embody the love of Christ with the endeavors and people God wants you to be present with- now.

What will help you clarify the most now?

A Workplace Prayer- A Benedicite for Human Work


A Benedicite for Human Work by Jim Cotter and Paul Payton from

Out of Silence…Prayers Daily Round*

Let the sowers of seed bless you, great God, the gardeners and farmers sing your praise.

May the fishers and foresters bless you, Beloved, praise your name and glorify you forever.

Let the bread from grain bless you, great God, the wine from the grape sing your praise.

May the transformations from cooks bless you, Beloved, praise your name and glorify you forever.

Let the spinners and weavers bless you, great God, the designers of clothes sing your praise.

May the potters and silversmiths bless you, Beloved, praise your name and glorify you forever.

Let the sounds and silences of music bless you, great God, the great composers sing your praise.

May the improvisors of jazz bless you, Beloved, praise your name and glorify you forever.

Let the cellos and trumpets bless you, great God, the echoing horns sing your praise.

May the clarinets and pianos bless you, Beloved, praise your name and glorify you forever.

Let the actors and mime artists bless you, great God, the singers and musicians sing your praise.

May the dancers and clowns bless you, Beloved, praise your name and glorify you forever.

Let the novelists bless you, great God, the poets and critics sing your praise.

May the essayists and playwrights bless you, Beloved, praise your name and glorify you forever.

Let the sculptor and scientists bless you, great God, the portrait painters and photographers sing your praise.

May the artists and architects bless you, Beloved, praise your name and glorify you forever.


* The Cascade Fellows are deeply grateful to Dr. Gideon Strauss for introducing us to this work in particular, and this body of work in general. The prayers offered in this book, based on the Psalms, have been embodied by him, and we continue to be moved by his faith and example to us.

A Workplace Prayer- Take the Long View


A Future Not Our Own

Bishop Ken Untener

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of
saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession
brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives include everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s
grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.


Taking this long view of work, reminds us the end of our work is not ourselves. Our work is ultimately not about us, but is rather our offering of worship back to God. Our work is ultimately about building the Kingdom, and working towards the flourishing of God’s world. This view frees us to do just as Bishop Ken Untener encourages us to do, plant the seeds, start small, begin where we are. As workers we are free to do what is right in front of us, trusting the Master Builder is at work using our small endeavors for the building of something much greater than our lives and our work.

What small thing is God calling you to do today to plant seeds? What work will you do today, with a long view of eternity in mind, as you do it? How are you viewing your work today- as about you or as an offering back to God in worship?




Their Work Matters, Too


“Thank you for working today.” I look her in the eye and smile. Genuinely, I’m thankful for her service. We’re all off work and gallivanting around town with family and friends, while she is there, scanning items over the check stand.

Boop, boop, boop… go my items as she finds each label and places the items in a bag.

My comment stops her in her tracks. She looks up and smiles, and almost laughs.

“You’re the first person to thank me for working today. I’ve been here working since midnight.” I look at my watch. She started at that check stand 10 hours ago. She must have checked out hundreds of people in the course of the Black Friday rush; no one noticing her, or at least acknowledging that she gave a day that most Americans have off of work- to work, serving the rest of us.

I leave clutching my bag, great deals at the bottom, but with a sense of frustrating wonder.

Why was I the first person to thank her?

Has our society become so commoditized that we expect people who check us out at the store to do so with no acknowledgement on our part of their dignity, their worth, and the fact that their work can be service to the Lord as well?

And even if they don’t know or acknowledge their work as such, we who are called by the Lord have a different vantage point. Maybe they are common grace to us. But we often don’t see it that way; even when we’re greeted with a smile, and a genuine ask of “How’s your day going?”

I don’t think we see other’s service and work this way often. I certainly didn’t see it this way for so long. There remains a hierarchy of vocation in our society. We aspire for our children and ourselves to go into certain industries and not others. We except certain service from those we pay- a person to clean the house or car, our barista who makes the coffee, the man or woman who drives our garbage truck.

There are those jobs, those industries, that remain almost invisible- and yet, even without our acknowledgment, their work remains dignified by the Lord. The custodians, the woman who cleans the bathroom at the mall, the man who works in the factory, placing the same part on the same product for 8, 9, 10 hours a day. Their work matters deeply to the Lord.

We who work in the world of words, or rhetoric, or arguments for justice and those who may work to keep others alive as doctors or nurses; those who watch the markets to see where our dollars may end up at the end of a given day, and those who pass on knowledge to others as teachers, or artists who work in their minds manipulating imagination to bring ideas to reality- For we who are called to these types of vocations, it’s easy to see those in other industries as there for our service.

I hate even seeing those words written- because while it’s reality, it’s the antithesis of everything that God has called good in work. Work as an offering of service, rather than a demand of it. Work as an offering back of worship, rather than a place where our egos are stroked and our successes racked up on a scoreboard.

Maybe it ‘s the conundrum of privilege- we don’t see, we don’t acknowledge certain types of work, because we don’t have to. We don’t see, we don’t acknowledge what another has done for us because we expect it, and are too busy in our own worlds, working on our more intellectual jobs on our smart phones, as we wait for another to finish their job working for us- making our coffee, checking us out at the grocery store, driving the bus we ride on to get to our ‘more worthy’ job- or so we think…

But if God is the author of work, ALL WORK, which He is, then we need to rethink the ways in which we, often unknowingly, brush off another’s vocation. In God’s economy, everyone has a place at the table.

In God’s economy all work is valid. All work is important. Whether you’re a landscaper, or a chef; a mathematician or a pastor. Whether your work is technical or creative, whether you work with numbers or paint, with people or chemicals. Whether you work with nature or work to enforce the law. Whether you are selling something or cooking something- your job, your vocation, your work is valid.

And I would venture to say, not just YOUR work, but THEIR work as well. The ‘other.’ The one who is so diametrically apposed to you and your life, THEIR WORK MATTERS, too.

You see it’s not just that our work is our melting pot and conduit of worship, but that theirs is too. And when we dismiss them or think they are lower than us because of their given vocation at a certain time, or gloss over when they ask us how our day is, we devalue that which God has given to them to do to contribute to the flourishing of our city.

Your work is valid because it’s through your work, that the work of God is manifested. Your work is valid because it’s through your work that you can participate in the work God is already doing in the world. Your work is valid because it’s through your work that you can reflect and reveal God. Your work is valid because it’s through your ordinary work that the power of God can be ushered into your life and the lives of those around you.

And that is just as much true for you as it is for those in service industries, retail industries, and as it is for those of us who work differently than we do. In God’s economy there IS NO HIERARCHY OF VOCATION.

The irony that I, a white middle-upper class female is writing this piece, is not lost on me. I do realize that I don’t know the struggle much of our city and country and world have as they work two and three jobs just to put food on the table and keep the lights on. But maybe, it’s precisely from this particular milieu that I can be transformed by God to see things differently, and speak to those in my similar situation.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know the first thing about driving a bus for twenty five years- day in and day out like my next door neighbor, or what it’s like to keep a marriage together when both husband and wife are working seven days a week, ten hours a day- three service jobs between the two of them- with two little boys to care for in the in between times, like a woman I met yesterday. I don’t get that. And maybe that’s why God is waking me up to the fact that I have much to learn about the depth and breadth of his common grace through hard working people and vocations that are so far away from my experience.

It’s almost like God is saying, “But, please, oh, please…don’t forget. You too are dust, and the work I’ve given you is not better or worse than the work I’ve given to the next guy or gal… but it’s YOUR work to do. So do it well, and to the best of your ability. And don’t forget the other, the ones who are doing THEIR work well and to the best of their abilities.”

When we first moved to Bellevue, our garbage woman stopped and got off of her truck. She walked around it, and put her hand out to introduce herself to us. She pulled out a lollipop from her vest pocket and handed it to my very wide-eyed one and half year old. It was a two-minute interchange, before she was off and back on the job. But its impact has remained now, almost two years later in my mind.

We had more than just trashcans for her to pick up. We were more than just ‘one more house’ on her route. We were people, with dignity and worth. Value enough to stop and learn a name, and smile at a little boy whose house she would visit the outside of once a week. To her, work was about more than just doing a job. It was about PEOPLE and serving the people whose trash she took, well.

God has used this instance to teach me, again and again: Our work is for the blessing of the nations; our work is for the flourishing of the city. And when we don’t give another the opportunity to bless, to speak kindness, to serve well- we handicap their ability to live out their vocations as well as they can.

You see, our lives become deeply richer when we reach across vocations and get to know people who do work very different than ours. Because all work holds dignity and the power to reveal God in the world. When I keep with the value of society holding hierarchy in vocation, I miss out completely on the ways in which God is revealing himself to the world through my garbage truck driver. When I stay with the hierarchy of society I miss out on the diversity of God revealed through the barista and the PhD.

I know it’s hard to break down the barriers of the hierarchy of vocation, because that’s just not how the world works, but God has always been above the social moray of society. I know it’s easy to stay within our comfort zones of economic and educational status. But, life in the kingdom of God has a deeply rich education in the use of the poor, in the use of the day laborer, in the nannies and stay at home mom or dad. Life in the kingdom of God can be revealed in a wider and deeper way through the doctor and the software developer.

Because we need you, you who work in intellectual terms. And we also need them, who care for children. We need you, you who work with chemicals and steel. We also need them, you who design and craft. We need you, you who drive and build. And we need them, who cook and clean. Your work is revealing to us, the world, who God is, and man oh, man do we so deeply need to know God through the ways you, and they, work.