1. Introduction & Purpose
This paper synthesizes the work of the Worship Renewal Advisory Group which met 5 times online and onsite between October 2022 and March 2023 (minutes on file for meetings on 4/10/2022; 26/10/2022; 29-30/11/2022; 15/2/2023 and 22/3/2023). It brings specific recommendations to Council in the area of the Iona Community’s work in the renewal of worship.
Membership of the WRAG was as follows:
Alison Adam (Convener), Zee Anderson, John Bell (staff), Felicity Burrows, Diana Carroll, Alex Clare-Young, Leanne Clelland (staff), Ruth Harvey (staff), Wendy Lloyd (staff), Jo Love (staff), Iain McLarty, Phill Mellstrom, Catriona Robertson, Martin Scott, Louise Taylor-Kenyon.
The WRAG was commissioned by Council to bring recommendations for the Iona Community’s ongoing work in the area of worship renewal, in line with the Structural Review of the Wild Goose Resource Group conducted by Council in June 2021 and updated in February 2022 thus: “an Advisory Group reviewing all aspects of the Iona Community’s Worship Renewal work and witness should be established to set priorities and allow determination of appropriate resources (staffing and budget).” (Structural Review update February 2022).
During the period of this work, Wild Goose Resource Group staff, John Bell, Jo Love and Gail Ullrich, have continued the work of the WGRG, including the following areas: staff training on worship leadership at our islands centres; annual WGRG week at Iona Abbey; annual ColumbaFest; leading worship training with colleagues at Glasgow University; coordinating Iona Community/WGRG presence at the Greenbelt Festival; supporting Gorbals Parish Church worship development; contributing to Spill the Beans; archiving WGRG material; handling all copyright and royalties relating to WGRG publications. They have maintained the work of the WGRG during a time of major transitions within the Iona Community since 2019, including the ongoing impact of the death of Graham Maule, the global pandemic, major leadership changes within the Iona Community, and the retiral of John Bell.
John will continue with speaking, workshop and leadership engagements in his retirement, and with occasional projects with the Iona Community in the area of renewal of worship.
3. Background Documents
At its first meeting (4/10/2022) the group reviewed the following background papers:
3.1 Iona Community Charitable Aims and Objectives
3.2 October 2020 Gathering of Iona Community Worship Leaders
3.3 Summary of possible areas of work in the area of renewal of worship as at February 2022.
The WRAG agreed the following detailed remit based on the initial commission by Council:
4.1 To reflect critically on the existing ethos and practice of the Iona Community’s work in the area of worship.
4.2 To ‘speak into being’ a vision for the Iona Community’s work in the area of worship at this moment in our life together.
4.3 To imagine possible new areas for exploration by the Iona Community in relation to worship.
4.4 To propose ways to consolidate, celebrate and share the work of the Iona Community in the area of worship.
5. Equality implications
5.1 There are no equality implications.
6. Resource implication
6.1 Current WGRG staff will take forward the first set of recommendations in Appendix 2.
6.2 Further recommendations will be resourced by recruiting new staff, equivalent to 1.5 full time staff at Band G on the Iona Community pay scale.
6.3 With one FTE staff vacancy within the WGRG, there is potential to use existing resources to support some of this new work.
6.4 A budget for publications, travel and resource production will be needed.
Council is invited to:
7.1 Thank John Bell, Jo Love and Gail Ullrich for their ongoing work in maintaining and developing the work of the Wild Goose Resource Group during the last four years of transition; and
7.2 Thank John Bell for his decades of creative work in the area of renewal of worship, wishing him well for this next stage in his life.
7.3 Commend ‘The Renewal of Worship: a workshop tool to explore the ethos and practice of the Iona Community’ (see appendix 1) as raw material for a workshop tool for Family Groups, Regions, Staff groups and others as they explore the ethos and practice of the Iona Community in relation to the renewal of worship. Request staff to work this up into a shareable workshop.
7.4 Approve the following vision for the Iona Community’s work in the area of worship and request our Communications Managers to adapt as necessary for our web-site and other uses e.g. staff training; information packs; leaflets about the Iona Community; workshops on the worship of the Iona Community:
“We affirm that worship can be a transformative experience when it reflects the dream of God for the flourishing of all creation. Our worship is rooted in our relationships with God, each other, and the world around us.
Our worship takes shape through imaginative engagement with scripture, Christian traditions, lived experience, and other sources of inspiration. We embrace the creative tensions within worship – structure and freedom; stillness and action; transcendence and immanence.
We seek to create and share in worship that embodies our commitment to justice, peace, and the integrity of creation. Therefore we seek to be radically contextual, inclusive, and participatory in our worship.
We are continually learning and growing, so our worship is continually evolving and being renewed.”
7.5 Approve the recommendations in Appendix 2 outlining ‘new areas for exploration’ in the area of renewal of worship.
7.6 To instruct staff to prepare a Business Plan including detailed costings and staffing structure for the September CRC meeting in order to deliver 7.5.
Names: Ruth Harvey and Alison Adam
Role: Leader; Convener of WRAG
Date: 2nd May 2023
NB this short report paper does not contain the detailed appendices or recommendations. These are now being developed into a business plan as per point 7.5 and 7.6 above.