Student, Christina Patterson, Serves at Iona Abbey
Since 1965, the Celtic cross from the Abbey of Iona has been a prominent symbol of the seminary, visible in the center of the School’s official seal, on the steeple of the Emmanuel Chapel, and in the Emmanuel logo.
In the “Introduction” to Emmanuel at 40, Dr. C. Robert Wetzel (Chancellor), explains, “The Emmanuel seal reflects the careful thought of a church historian [Dr. Dean E. Walker] grounded in Scripture and committed to New Testament Christianity.
For this reason, the central image of the seal is the Celtic Cross of St. Martin. This cross is actually found on the Island of Iona in Scotland, where the oldest type of Christianity among Celtic peoples existed.” In 1960, Dr. Walker attended the World
Convention of Churches of Christ in Edinburgh, Scotland, and also visited Iona. While there, Dr. Walker purchased a bronze replica of the Celtic Cross of St. Martin. Today, it can be found in the Mildred Welshimer Phillips Memorial
Chapel at Emmanuel. Dr. Walker’s interest in the Celtic Christian tradition stemmed from the fact that many of the early founders in the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement thought that Iona represented a primitive form of New Testament Christianity,
free of Roman control (until the mid-seventh century AD).
In 563 AD, the Irish monk, Columba, founded a monastic community on the Island of Iona, which later significantly contributed to evangelism in the British Isles and the formation of Christianity during the Middle Ages. Today, the ruins
of the Iona Abbey are a historic landmark in church history. In 1938, an organization called the Iona Community was formed to help restore the Iona Abbey and make it a center of spiritual renewal and Christian worship once again.
During the summer of 2010, fourth year Emmanuel student Christina Patterson had the opportunity to work with the Iona Community. Christina first heard about Iona while attending an event at Hopwood Memorial Christian Church at Milligan
College. Unable to put it out of her mind, Christina began researching the Iona Community. Christina was attracted to Iona’s emphasis on “peace and social justice, rebuilding of community, and the renewal of worship” (see the
Iona Community website
). Christina applied and was accepted to work in the Iona Abbey for nine weeks as Assistant Sacristan. Christina’s duties included “planning and implementation
of the three daily worship services in the Abbey Church, providing hospitality and interacting with the guests of Iona, and attending various workshops and seminars hosted at the Abbey.”
When asked how this experience has affected her, Christina responded “the time on Iona gave me the opportunity for much needed rest and reflection. I also had the opportunity to explore the Iona Community’s core belief – the idea that we
cannot separate our lives into ‘sacred’ and ‘secular’ because God is present in all things. These are ideas which, in my opinion, put hands and feet on the teachings of Jesus. I look forward to exploring these ideas with the Emmanuel
faculty and with my peers in the coming semester.”
Christina Patterson, a Johnson Bible College graduate, is pursuing an MDiv at Emmanuel and plans to graduate in May of 2011. She hopes to work as a chaplain at a college or university after graduation. Christina’s experience at Iona is but the latest
example of a member of the Emmanuel community being influenced by this historic island.
download the full Envoy