Where Are They Now? Reflection by Alum Hazel Johnson

I came to Life Together in 2011 with a desire to find a place where I could be accepted and made to feel strong and bold. Well, all the fear and anxiety about not being accepted flew out the window when I walked in the first day and saw Arrington standing there in a collar! I remember turning to someone and asking, “is that a woman?” I wasn’t confused about her gender; I was shocked to see my first woman priest. Growing up Southern Baptist, the closest I could ever get was being a preacher’s wife, but this opened up a new world. In that moment my world broke open. In that moment I saw possibilities that were at one point just dream.

The tools I learned in Life Together are the exact tools that have enabled me to, day in and day out, live into who God has truly called me to be. I am not shy, I am strong. I am not small. Those tools have helped me to discover my voice and to help enable others to discover their voice and power.

I currently serve as the Director of Education for the Blue Hill Boys & Girls Club. I came into my position excited to teach math, science, and Spanish to urban kids. But that is only about 40% of what I actually do on a regular basis. Day in and day out, I sit with, laugh with, and sometimes cry with young people who feel small and unheard. And I remember all of the blessings Arrington, Jason, and many others gave me of feeling heard and empowered, and I know that it is my turn to do the same for these young people. Joining Life Together was and continues to be one of the greatest decisions I've made, and the work that I do is a reflection of that choice. Every day I get to help transform the suffering world around me into the world God and all of us dream of.