A dozen young men plan to embark at Derry in Northern Ireland in May, 1963. Partly Scots and partly Irish, they will represent several denominations. They will row and sail their craft so as to reach Iona at Pentecost, which this year falls on June 2, for it was on the eve of Pentecost in 563 that St. Columba, sailing from Derry with 12 companions, beached his coracle on the island of Iona, off Scotland’s western coast.
The modern craft will not be a replica of the Celtic one, because the art of building so large a coracle is lost. Instead, as its gift for these centenary celebrations, the Irish Presbyterian Church has offered a splendid boat, whose central mast and crossbar resemble the familiar symbol of the World Council of Churches. After the successful ending of her voyage, she will be in regular service with the Iona community.
To the island itself every branch of the Christian church has been invited. Anglicans will be represented by the Bishop of Durham, in whose diocese lies Lindisfarne, that daughter colony of the Iona monks. The Greek Orthodox will send a representative, recalling the ancient links between Celtic and Eastern Christianity. Members of both established and free churches, from England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, are expected—for although in these official celebrations the Church of Scotland will naturally play the host, Iona Abbey is one church in Christendom where every denomination has a legal right to worship. The sermon, on Whitsunday morning, is to be preached by the moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland (Professor James S. Stewart). In order that the service may be ecumenical, with as wide a communion as is possible, Bishop Lesslie Newbigin of the Church of South India ...1
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