An oral history of the early years of the Iona Community

by Anne Muir

The country is bankrupt, the gap between rich and poor is widening, the church has retreated from the inner cities, and even in the more affluent suburbs, many young people see the church as irrelevant – out of touch.

No, it’s not 2012. It’s 1938. And a man called George MacLeod, and a group of like-minded friends and colleagues, have a vision of how to put the church with its message of ‘good news to the poor’ right back at the centre of life. To make it speak again to ordinary people.

If the rest of the church had followed their example, maybe 2012 would have looked very different.

This is their story.

Please God it’s not too late to listen.


In 2004, the Iona Community became concerned that many of the people who could bear witness to its early days were by then in their 70s or 80s. As a result, they commissioned an oral history project, so that their testimonies would not be lost. This book is based on the recordings of their stories.

Anne Muir worked for 16 years as a producer with BBC television, producing and directing documentaries for BBC Two and worship programmes for BBC One. She is a member of Hillhead Baptist Church and lives in Glasgow.

There is a blog relating to Outside the Safe Place and the Iona Community’s oral history project, where  you can view the photos included in the book and also share your own stories and photos.

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