Leter from Peter Macdonald to all Members, Associates and Friends in the United States
I am writing to all Members, Associates and Friends in the United States to report on my recent visit to Adelynrood Retreat Centre, Massachusetts and Kirkridge Retreat Centre, Pennsylvania. During my visit those I met expressed how much they cherish their connection with the Iona Community, particularly with regard to the Rule and the Peace, Justice, and Integrity of Creation commitment. However, it was also made clear to me that they long for more connection. Praying for names listed on a page is not hard for them, but having few opportunities to gather as components of the dispersed Community is difficult. In the five years that I have been Leader I have become aware of ‘Iona people’ seeking each other’s company to “accompany” through worship and conversation and to account to each other their strivings toward witnessing God’s loving purpose “in the marketplace” and in their own churches.
But how to do that within the large geographic area that is the USA?
The inauguration of the Internet group mailings for Far-Flung Members, Associates and Friends has been a boon over the past few years and a major step in the right direction, but it does not take the place of more face-to-face conversation, song, and worship.
The outline that follows resulted from conversations and discussions during my visit. For the sake of simplicity and clarity, the term ‘member’ is used from this point onward to refer to anyone who participates in a regional group.
At Adelynrood it was agreed that the group gathered be formally recognized as the North East USA Regional Group, consisting of members from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, upper New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. The Group agreed to meet annually and a small group was appointed to plan next years gathering. It is hoped that smaller family groups will meet regularly in the north (Maine), center (Vermont) and south (Rhode Island) of the region. The contact person for this region is Katharine Preston.
At Kirkridge it was agreed that the group gathered be formally recognized as the Mid Atlantic USA Regional Group consisting of members from Maryland, New Jersey, lower New York and Pennsylvania. Again, it is hoped that family groups will meet in three areas initially, possibly Allentown, Washington DC and Kirkridge, and that an annual gathering will be held at Kirkridge. Contact person: Kathleen Roney
There is also the possibility that a regional group will be formed in the Mid West USA Regional Group (Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky). Contact: Anissa Glaser-Bacon
It was recognized at both gatherings that regional and family groups would develop their own patterns of meeting and would be open to others who wished to join.
This structure makes sense to me, as it is reflective of what a number of other “far flung” groups of our dispersed community had done in different countries.
It is hoped that members of Regional Groups would have some personal connection with the Community and make the appropriate contribution to the Community’s work. In that regard, The New World Foundation (NWF) exists to enable contribution to the wider work of the Iona Community in Scotland to be tax deductible. All funds received by NWF, with the exception of a small honorarium paid to the bookkeeper, are used for the stated purpose. However, it may be possible for members to contribute to a local fund either within a family group or regional group to support local initiatives as agreed within the group.
Regional representatives may supplement membership of the NWF Board over time.
Members who live in other US states who would be interested in forming a regional grouping similar to those described above are invited to contact me directly, and I will endeavor to help with the formation of these groups.
I greatly enjoyed my recent visit and gained much from the insights of those with whom I met. I am encouraged by the presence of people who recognize the joy and importance of being part of the Iona Community. May God bless the work of new regional groups as they reach out to “touch the hearts of all” even beyond themselves.
With best wishes