Who works at Southborough L’Abri?
L’Abri is run by Workers who live and work on-site, year round. L’Abri is their home; you could say the first job of a Worker is to be a home-maker. Additionally, Workers care for the property, foster the “sheltering” spirit of L’Abri, prepare and host meals and discussions, teach through tutoring, lecturing and other formal and informal times, and seek to live lives that demonstrate the reality of God’s grace and provision.
Ben Keyes grew up in Massachusetts at the Southborough L’Abri with the impression that having crowds of strangers in his home was a normal thing. From an early age he loved to play music. When he was in high school his family joined an African American church and Ben became involved in the music ministry—learning how to play gospel piano and bass guitar. He attended Brown University where he studied ethnomusicology. In 2002 he spent 6 months studying at the English L’Abri.
Ben studied Theology and the Arts at Regent College in Vancouver and directed a large gospel choir as part of his final thesis project. While at Regent, Ben and two of his classmates started a folk trio called Ordinary Time which sings both original songs and arrangements of old hymns. Ordinary Time has recorded 5 albums to date.
In 2007 Ben and Nickaela began working at the Southborough L’Abri and have been there ever since. In 2016 Ben and Nickaela became co-directors of the Southborough branch. They have twin daughters and a son. Ben loves to cook, lead music at his church, give lectures, read to his children, carve wooden birds, play the banjo and tie flies.
Nickaela Fiore-Keyes is the co-director of L’Abri Fellowship in Southborough. She first came to L’Abri in 2003 from California, after graduating from Azusa Pacific University. From 2005-2007, Nickaela and her husband Ben attended Regent College in Vancouver, Canada, where she studied Theology and Culture.
In 2007, while pregnant with twin girls, she and Ben returned to work at L’Abri in Southborough.
She enjoys reading, being at the ocean, quiet mornings and walking. On any given evening, Nickaela can be found working on her letterpress in her basement or making jewelry.
She & Ben have three children: twin girls and a son who are a constant source of joy, goodness, perplexity, and wonder.
Joshua originally hails from Brooklyn, New York but has lived in the Deep South as well as on the West Coast. He received his Master of Arts in Theology from Regent College in beautiful Vancouver, BC where he also met and married his wife Sarah.
Prior to being at L’Abri, Joshua was employed as a house painter, a mental health worker and a pool-cleaner (but not all at the same time). Joshua’s teaching interests usually revolve around the Bible as well as the intersection of Christian faith with post-Christian culture.
If he can’t be found doing a project around the house or with his nose in some book, he’s most likely either playing with his two young kids or attempting to fly fish.
Sarah grew up in a small, rural community in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, outside Yosemite National Park. Her parents own a small furniture manufacturing business and she has fond childhood memories of days spent at the workshop making sawdust and woodchip pizzas with her younger sister.
After college, Sarah taught English in the Czech Republic for two years, then went to Regent College in Vancouver, BC for her Master’s in Christianity and the Arts, where she met Joshua. The Chestnuts have been at Southborough L’Abri since 2013. They have two children, Jacob and Lily. Sarah loves writing poetry, gardening, and making sourdough bread. She also loves the stone walls of New England, the walking trails near L’Abri, and Indian food.
Autumn used to be her favorite season, but after five winters in Southborough, now it’s Spring. Sarah makes pizza for family pizza night every week—not with sawdust and woodchips.
Kelly Koon grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, running around outside playing with dirt as her father worked in the garden and her mother picked up snakes for her to pet. From 2019-2020 she attended Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, where she received her Master of Arts in Religious Studies, researching Christian meat and dairy farmers in New Zealand and whether or not their faith impacted their sustainable agricultural practices.
A student at the English L’Abri in 2017, she found herself at the Southborough L’Abri after the pandemic stuck her back in the States. Kelly loves to think about Christian engagement with the environment, the arts, and ways to create better understanding between rural and urban spaces.
Kelly is also a whole animal craft butcher by trade and has worked on farms and restaurants in and around Asheville, NC. There are a few things that are of the utmost importance to Kelly: putting on musicals with her three younger sisters, the correct pronunciation of “Appalachian” (ap-a-LATCH-n), a nicely marbled bavette steak, and her brown Blundstone boots.
Esther grew up in a missionary family in Pakistan and has also lived in Canada, India, and Southern California. She has degrees in English and creative writing from Biola University and Loyola Marymount University LA. Before coming to L’Abri, she had various jobs teaching English as foreign language, training tutors and teachers, designing curricula, and teaching first year college writing. She writes stories and poetry and thinks about books and language most of the time.
Esther fell in love with Southborough L’Abri as a student in 2020 and hasn’t left yet. She enjoys thinking about Christianity and the arts, what big truths have to do with the particularities of life, prayer, and the immanence of God.
She tries to host a Bollywood movie night every term and sometimes reads from etiquette books at mealtimes. When she’s not keeping up with friends and family in many different time zones, she might be found dabbling in watercolors, sewing an outfit, walking in the woods, or wondering if it’s time for tea.
Dick Keyes is the former director of L’Abri Fellowship in Southborough, Massachusetts, where he has worked with his wife and family since 1979. He holds a B.A. in History from Harvard University and an M.Div. from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. Dick has worked for L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland and in England, where he served also as a pastor in the International Presbyterian Church in London for eight years. He has been an adjunct professor at Gordon Conwell Seminary and Westminster Theological Seminary.
He is the author of Beyond Identity, True Heroism, Chameleon Christianity, Seeing Through Cynicism, and several chapters in anthologies such as No God But God, ed. Os Guinness, Finding God at Harvard, ed. Kelly Monroe, and New Dictionary of Christian Apologetics from Intervarsity Press. He is currently writing a book on the significance of Jesus’ questions. He has lectured widely in the U.S. and also in Europe and Korea. Dick and Mardi are minority members of an African American Church, which has enriched their lives and experience of worship enormously. Dick is a member of the Ministerial Team.
Mardi graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in Biblical History in 1968. Shortly after graduation, she married Dick Keyes, and in 1970, they moved to Europe to work with L’Abri. They spent six months in Switzerland, and eight and a half years in England (London and Greatham). While working with L’Abri in London, a very multicultural church met in their home.
Mardi has lectured on a variety of topics, including hospitality, the problem of evil, the family, children, adolescence, youth culture, the Christian mind, feminism, and other gender issues. Mardi has published a number of articles, and a booklet entitled Feminism & the Bible. She also contributed a chapter in response to Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, in the book, Women and the Future of the Family. In her lectures and writing, Mardi relates Biblical teaching to social history and contemporary culture.