September Letter from Executive Director Kelsey Rice Bogdan

Since my childhood, I’ve loved September. More than any New Year’s resolutions, the start of the academic or program year seems filled with promise: I loved getting that fresh syllabus on the first day of class in college, anticipating all the new worlds to which I would be introduced and the stimulating class discussions we would have about them. On that day, the long hours writing papers and the tough exams weren’t on the horizon… even if the syllabus clearly spelled out that they were coming.

The first day of Orientation at Life Together carries a similar quality to it, one filled with joy and excitement as a community we have known only in pieces, only from a distance, truly comes into being. Those of you who were able to join us for our annual Co-Creation Dinner on August 17 may have sensed the energy behind this community’s formation. Friends arrived to warm food and welcoming smiles from this cohort. We worshipped and ate on the side lawn at 40 Prescott, where tables had been set up and sparkling lights twinkled overhead as daylight faded. The last guests lingered on the porch well into cleanup. We were so grateful for all those who came and co-created community with us.

Yet the challenges come: the papers, the exams, the conflicts, the problems one can’t seem to solve. Our fledgling community has already experienced some of those challenges this year. But what we're learning in this season at Life Together is that we can't back away from that which makes us uncomfortable. We have to lean in if we really want to learn and grow.

Our community is leaning into new learning and growth in a variety of ways this year. One of these is in our work to more deeply integrate an anti-oppression lens into all aspects of our training and formation program. The events of the past year, culminating in Charlottesville and the more recent termination of the DACA program, highlight how critical such work really is. Even as our community strives to offer an immediate moral witness to these urgent challenges, we must engage with the long-term work of changing our systems and ourselves. This has always been the work of Life Together; in this season, we are entering into it more deeply through partnership with the Mission Institute, which works with faith communities throughout the Diocese of Massachusetts to expose the white supremacy culture at work in our structures and help transform those systems. They will help us identify and shift dynamics that currently stand in the way of our welcome to all fellows. Alumna and MI staff member Katie Ernst ('11-'13) is playing a critical role in that work. We are also seeking to learn from the wisdom of our broader community, inviting you to engage in that work with us and bring your own insights to it. Please reach out to me for a 1:1 if you'd like to talk more! 

The work of growth is always messy and complex, in whatever form it takes. But that is also where the Spirit reveals herself most fully. I'm excited for that growth in this year, and grateful for the ways our fellows and staff have already so thoughtfully engaged in the work. Most importantly, I'm so grateful for the companionship of this community on the journey.