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WCC commemorates life of last surviving founder of Iona Community

WCC commemorates life of last surviving founder of Iona Community

Photo: Church of Scotland

11 April 2018

Ian Fraser, last surviving founding member of the Iona Community and former World Council of Churches staff, has died at the age of 100.

The Iona Community is a Christian ecumenical community working for peace and social justice, rebuilding of community and the renewal of worship.

As one of the most significant Scottish church leaders of the 20th century, Fraser authored the book “Bible, Congregation and Community,” written while he was a parish minister at Rosyth. The text influenced the transformation of the church from a clergy focus to a focus on people in the pews taking an equal part in working out the meaning of the gospel in the political, social and moral realities of the times.

Fraser took a labouring role in a paper mill to learn of the 'real world' before entering a pulpit, a move which later took formal shape in industrial, now workplace, chaplaincy. As a minister he was actively involved in politics, most memorably in effective protest over the poll tax.

He was appointed as the first warden of the Scottish Churches House, Dunblane. This became a free place for church to encounter society at large, when consultations were arranged not just between denominations but between church and industry, journalism, the law and the penal system, education, the arts, broadcasting, government.

His work with the WCC led him into contact with the church in some of the most troubled political situations in the world, including Latin America, the Philippines, South Africa under apartheid, and behind the Iron Curtain.

WCC general secretary reflected what a privilege it has been for the world to share so many decades with Fraser. “His prophetic and groundbreaking ministry touched not only the World Council of Churches but so many people in the pew, in the workplace, and on the path searching for theological insight. We thank God for Ian’s gifts to the ecumenical movement, especially through his work at the Iona Community.”

Church of Scotland