September Letter from Executive Director Kelsey Rice Bogdan

If there’s one thing adulthood has taught me, it is this: time goes by really fast. When someone told me at 22 years old that they had known someone for 20 years, I thought it was a lifetime. And at that age, it was. Yet as the 2019-2020 cohort of Life Together fellows gathered in the training room at 40 Prescott for the first time on August 14th, it was a bit shocking to realize that a decade earlier, I had been one of those fresh faces walking into this house to experience Life Together for the first time. 

Ten years has gone by since that first cohort of fellows known explicitly as Life Together started out at 40 Prescott. We knew we were doing something experimental, work that often didn’t have a clear roadmap. There was a lot of training in community organizing, even for those of us who weren’t explicitly organizers– I’m probably not the only alumni who remembers that sense of blank panic when the trainer would say, “Okay, now you have eight minutes to draft your public narrative, and then you’ll share it in your small group....” We were leaders helping people “achieve purpose in the face of uncertainty,” in the words of Marshall Ganz, even as we wrestled with our own uncertainty on so many levels. So I would hand out leaflets about our campaign to passing students in the halls at Bunker Hill Community College; seek out new young adults at my site for one-to-ones; invite people to join me in something when even I didn’t know exactly what I was inviting them to join. I eventually realized that year, though, that it was less about the specific project we were doing and all about the relationships we built along the way. We were growing together, building capacity, founding a movement. 

I recently attended the wedding of a member of my cohort on Cape Cod over the holiday weekend. Though the Hope in Action campaign of our year, and so many other programs and initiatives from others, have faded, the relationships have endured. Several members of my cohort were there, along with members of nearly every other Life Together cohort in the ten years since. Among them were priests and organizers, academics and administrators, visionaries and leaders, working in so many places to bring about God’s dream of justice and reconciliation. It was just a small slice of the many change makers who are part of this Life Together network, still growing together and supporting one another all these years later. 

I’m blessed to be part of that network alongside you, and to continue growing it with an amazing new group of fellows this year. They, too, are eager to experience transformation: fellow Allison Lewis shares this month how she turned away from the comfort of familiarity to grow with us this year [read her story here]. And as we move into our tenth anniversary year, I look forward to lifting up the stories of these ten years with you: stories of relationships built, lives transformed, and movements toward broader change.