A report on Community Week
in the Netherlands, 13-19 October 2018
by member Trevor Jones
Community Week at Schoorl in the Netherlands was a delightful and unique experience. The acorns crunched underfoot as we made our way around the Mennonite Centre which became ‘home’, with our host and pilgrimage leader going everywhere barefoot. We walked through pinewoods, along sand dunes and up 150 wooden steps, eventually finding our way to the beach, where some paddled, and all participated in a moving act of worship at the water’s edge.
Community Week photo by Irene Stok ©
The stories have been extremely positive: one person stating that ‘this has been the happiest Community Week I have ever attended’.
Worship focused on the Book of Ruth and was enriched by a series of seven spectacular canvases, ‘Works of mercy’, by Dutch modern artist Ruud Bartlema. Members had been invited to prepare worship which moved away from the traditional format, that created opportunities which energised us; and musicians contributed to the collective experience.
Every aspect of the week was inclusive, and member Chris Mercer stated that never before had she been able to share in a Community Week so extensively. From the moment an electric mobility scooter became available, she never looked back! Member Reinhild Traitler identified that the week spent in the Netherlands had enabled the Iona Community to identify itself as an international ecumenical community.
There was a ‘magical mystery tour’ to Haarlem. Some visited Corrie ten Boom’s house, others took in the sites around town, before we all met up at Stam in de Stad, where we learned about the city’s efforts to respond to extreme poverty and homelessness.
Iona Community Co-leaders Kathy Galloway and Christian MacLean were able to share the urgent need for
the Iona Community to address issues surrounding governance, organisation, finance, leadership and decentralisation.
Dutch and German members, with associates and friends, joined us on Sunday; and we watched the premier of a film that has been produced to share the Iona story with parish groups and potential guests.
There was lots of fun, a concert unlike any other, a Skype conversation with Phyllis Ives in the USA, and other thought-provoking sessions, in addition to time for relaxation and to enjoy just being together.
The preparation undertaken by the Dutch Family Group cannot be underestimated. They took care of every detail and I feel sure that I would not be the only person overwhelmed with gratitude for their collective efforts and gracious hospitality. The time shared will have a special place in the collective memory of Iona Community members. Thank you, Netherlands.
We look forward to 2019, when we will be guests of the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland.
* Verrukkelijk can translate as ‘delightful’.