New leader appointed to the Iona Community
Dr Michael Marten explains how he felt about his new appointment as the leader of Iona Community, and following in the footsteps of previous great leaders, all of who are ministers ‘BECOMING the ninth leader of the community is both a huge privilege, and rather daunting,’ he began. ‘In electing the first lay leader of the community, members have chosen to recognise the place that all can play in the wider life of God’s people – we are articulating the priesthood of all believers in a new way.
‘Today, we welcomed new members into the community in a special service in the abbey, known as the Hallowing Service; towards the end of the service, the previous leader, Reverend Peter Macdonald, also hallowed me as the new leader.
‘Having been at many Hallowing Services over the years since I joined the community almost quarter of a century ago, I can’t say I ever expected to be hallowed again, this time as leader.
‘These are exciting times for the community. This morning, I preached in the abbey, closing with the following thoughts: ‘As the new leader of the Iona Community I have been asked on a number of occasions what I think the community has to offer in the contemporary context, when churches appear to be dying, and Christian life is seen by some as increasingly irrelevant in the contemporary world.
‘My response is that it is our valuing of community itself that marks us out as different. It is in the creation, sustaining and nurturing of right relationships that we live out something quite different, that is lost in the winner-takes-all cut-throat capitalist world around us, a world that worships at the altar of nuclear annihilation, accepts with equanimity the deaths of thousands of Africans in the Mediterranean each year, ignores the increasing attacks on the poor and disabled in our own society, doesn’t notice the marginalisation of non-binary people in all areas of life.
‘We reject these things. We reject them because they run counter, in every imaginable way, to the idea that right relationships should be at the heart of how we relate to one another.
‘This is why we are in the middle of a major fundraising effort to refurbish the abbey: the building is in need of repair so that we can continue to bring people from all walks of life to come and share in the exploration of how to build community, of “finding new ways to touch the lives of all” as one of our founder’s prayers puts it.
‘This is at the heart of all our work, whether on Iona, Mull, or the mainland, whether with young people, in our publishing and programme activities, or the outreach of the Wild Goose Resource Group renewing worship in churches.’