In my years with the Apostolic Johannite Church, I’ve often asked myself: How does he do it? How does he maintain his commitment to this band of seekers, who often disappoint, who often cannot reach even the minimum of the effort he puts in? How does he keep pushing us forward, while keeping his own shoulder to the wheel?
He’s a humble man, but through unwavering determination, has brought valuable traditions to the forefront and granted them the recognition they rightfully deserve. Today, we celebrate the Twentieth Anniversary of His Eminence Mar Iohannes IV’s ascent to the role of Patriarch of the Apostolic Johannite Church, a milestone that marks the transformation of a man into a visionary leader.
His Eminence often humbly remarks, “When people think of me, they think of the AJC, but when they think of the AJC, they do not necessarily think of me.” While this might be true, today is dedicated to the man who took up the scepter and all that goes with it, a day for us to acknowledge the unique qualities that make him special. We gather not as an institution, but as a community, to honor our brother whose approach has benefited us all.
Shaun was designated the successor as a young man, entrusted with a tremendous amount of authority and responsibility. The weight placed on his shoulders required rapid growth to accommodate the role. Yet, through nurturing care, the assistance of those around him, and a profound recognition of his own strengths and failings, His Eminence flourished and blossomed. The AJC, under his guidance, evolved into a path unique from other churches in the Independent Sacramental Movement, as a result of his unwavering dedication and conscientious leadership. The Church became an organization in more than name only, with personnel, standards, and procedures that lead to a continuity of leadership, and have enabled us to become an expanding and vibrant community. This community of the AJC has distinct personalities in the various locales around the world, yet embodies commonalities that bind us together as one denomination.
We must acknowledge the difficult balance he maintains, bearing the power that leadership demands (and which I’ve encouraged him to wield) while remaining true to the higher spiritual purpose and taking the temperature and advice of his communities. His Eminence walks the delicate line of leadership with grace, avoiding the pitfalls of possessiveness and control that might otherwise suffocate the tradition. It is a testament of his powerful yet humble nature to succeed in such a feat.
When he joined the AJC as a seminarian and then a priest, he had a personal vision of what the Church should be, and what it should look like. He took hold of a vision, saw its value, and courageously built an extraordinary temple around it, allowing us all to benefit from its presence. As the years have continued, he’s incorporated the unique visions of those who have joined him in this endeavor, and while his vision remains an indelible mark upon the denomination, it has grown and adapted to meet the needs of those it serves.
In our liturgies, we remember various historical figures who embody virtues we aspire to hold as individuals. Likewise, we are now living history, witnessing the legacy of the man who knelt before the ruins and constructed the shining temple we cherish today. When we were writing the sacramentary, I remarked that 100 years from now, people would look back on these days as we do the days of the apostles, where our conversations about what we wanted to emphasize and what we wanted to adapt were decided. His Eminence has held those remarks close to his heart, and he not only takes the view of the moment, but the long view of eternity as he deliberates on our various offerings.
To answer my questions above: I believe he is inspired by the Divine, strengthened by the seekers, and possesses a great dedication to and love for the community of the Apostolic Johannite Church. As we
honor the anniversary of Mar Iohannes IV’s ascension to Patriarch, we also recognize the temple designed by Shaun McCann for all of us to build. Let us take a moment to express gratitude for his efforts and acknowledge the significance of this day. Let us pray for his continued inspiration, strength, dedication, and love to guide us for years to come. May we all be blessed to follow his example, and embody those virtues in our lives and in service to the Apostolic Johannite Church. Please join me in wishing His Eminence a very happy Anniversary.
Axios! Axios! Axios!