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An invitation to belonging: The Belonging Project

Meet the thought leaders behind Presbyterian Outlook's April issue on belonging.

The Belonging Project is a research and convening project committed to exploring the character and nature of belonging. Together, six practitioners will lead projects that highlight key questions and insights, and our hope is to share and engage those insights with other leaders.

The Belonging Project is organized around six themes:

  1. Practice of belonging: Belonging takes place in the everyday and ordinary communities where life is lived. It is cultivated over time, in the company of others and for the sake of others. This practice pattern can create a space for us to experience alienation when we don’t belong. The Belonging Project will cultivate and investigate the practices that make for belonging.
  1. Place and belonging: Belonging also takes place. It is embodied and particular, carried forth by the ways our bodies move through the various places we inhabit. And when we are displaced, we realize anew how much we belong. Emerging in the space between place and displacement, the Belonging Project will create place to nurture and experience belonging.
  1. Conditions for belonging: Belonging does not just happen; it is cultivated over time under particular conditions. Equally, belonging can be hindered and inhibited by conditions that force this life-giving breath from our lungs. Through conversation, consultation and investigation, the Belonging Project aims to investigate and support the conditions that nurture belonging.
  1. The complexity of belonging: Belonging resists a single definition or a fixed expression. Although we need it like breath itself, we can encounter and observe belonging in unexpected places and ways. Just as our pursuit of belonging invites us to live porous lives, ongoing experiences of belonging make complex our understanding of this deep longing. In honor of this complexity, the Belonging Project will aim to redefine belonging and make its varied expressions complex. 
  1. practical wisdom for belonging: We can only extend belonging when we’ve learned to receive it from others. This generational reality – ancestors’ transmission of values and practices to those who follow – cultivates wisdom and care. Only when we find ourselves surrounded by others can we begin to invite others into structures of belonging. Standing in line with those who have come before us, the Belonging Project will pass along the practical wisdom belonging requires.
  1. The consequences of belonging: After all, belonging is a matter of life and death. Amid the crises that surround us, we’re here to call individuals and communities to life. This hope calls us forward, inviting us to become members of a broader community and to support the conditions where we and others can belong. The Belonging Project will work toward a common life in which individuals and communities can breathe in the life-giving reality of belonging.

Follow the Belonging Project and join the conversation at

Our team: