Act of Worship and Witness at Faslane – new date announced: Saturday, September 7th, 2013

Scottish Clergy Against Nuclear Arms (SCANA) have rescheduled their annual Easter Witness at Faslane, postponed this year because of the weather, to take place at 12 noon on Saturday, September 7th, 2013.

This is an Act of Witness and Worship as a peaceful protest against the possession, and intended use, of weapons of mass destruction currently held by the UK government – weapons which all the Churches in Scotland have condemned as blasphemous and against the Gospel of Peace of Jesus Christ.

There will be singing, prayers and speakers – including Peter Macdonald (Leader of the Iona Community); Sally Foster-Fulton, Convenor of the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, and the Rt Rev Joe Toal, the local Roman Catholic Bishop. We will have a short march – and a picnic – and everyone is most welcome. Please let local church groups know.

– From Iona Community member John Harvey

SCANA logo

SCANA logo

Members, Associates and Friends

Food banks: food justice?, from member Liz Dowler

I share the view of many within and without the Iona Community that it is good to be generous to those in need, here and overseas, especially in times of austerity. I have long worked, in my teaching and research as an academic and in my daily living, for food justice. I am horrified by the rising number of food banks as so many struggle to manage falling incomes and rising prices, along with stringent benefit cuts. I recognise that offering hospitality, a listening ear and practical guidance are essential tasks for Christian folk. What horrifies me is that these should replace what was, until recently, provided by our longstanding welfare state – itself not without problems, but nevertheless as part of our democratic society’s responsibility. Instead, churches are increasingly being co-opted into sustaining, even promoting, a cashless social welfare system; one which is unaccountable, heavily reliant on volunteer labour and skill, and potentially demeaning and inadequate to the task.

A recent report in the Church Times (7th June 2013) reveals a fifth of local authorities are already channelling newly devolved ‘crisis fund’ money to churches, often to food banks. While this shows trust in churches to deliver care, it leaves them with huge responsibilities; there will be too few food banks in the right places with sufficient capacity to meet current need, and their promotion conceals the realities of poverty and hunger. Teachers, pastors, social workers and other professionals should not be acting as gatekeepers to people’s access to food; those in need should be able to shop like anyone else, and not have to use vouchers.

People resort to food banks when their income (wages or welfare) is too low or when state systems fail (benefits are wrong or delayed). Consistent research evidence and people’s experience show the minimum wage and state benefits are insufficient to live decently and eat healthily for more than a few months, however skilfully people budget, shop and cook. The costs of bureaucratic errors should not fall on those already burdened and struggling. Food banks are an inappropriate and unjust solution to a big, tough, urgent issue, which should be addressed by society as a whole and by government.

We need sustainable livelihoods rather than insecure poorly paid work, and a system of social welfare benefits which offers dignity and sufficiency rather than penalties and indebtedness. Charitable food cannot solve the problems of growing UK hunger and we need urgent discussion of better ways forward.

A group of Iona Community members are informally discussing the issue of poverty and food banks at present. If you are interested in contributing to the conversation, please contact me through the Members book.

– Liz Dowler, Thames Valley Family Group, academic at University of Warwick and member of the Food Ethics Council

Links to some recent articles and discussions on poverty and food banks:

‘Tory MP: Food poverty is growing, food banks are not the answer’, from Patrick Butler’s Cuts Blog, from the Guardian

Patrick Butler’s Cuts Blog, various articles on poverty and food banks, from the Guardian

‘Food poverty in the UK’, from Just Fair: Justice & Fairness through Human Rights

Mammon Rules, a biblical reflection by Ian M. Fraser

The well outside the main doors of Iona Abbey © David Coleman

The well outside the main doors of Iona Abbey
© David Coleman

Theology in Scotland and the Scottish Church Theology Society have joined forces to promote the Fraser Prize essay competition in honour of Iona Community member Dr Ian Fraser, who has always had in mind ‘the priesthood of all believers’ and their ability to think theologically. At 94 years old, Ian is still going strong – and following is one of Ian’s latest reflections, ‘Mammon Rules’, in which he writes:

What kind of culture is fostered by the present government’s priorities? What drives it forward? Is it Mammon-inspired? Is it marked by what Hugo Young in his biography of Margaret Thatcher called ‘a mood of tolerated harshness’: materialistic individualism was blessed as a virtue, the driver of national success; everything was justified as long as it made money. Or does it reflect the call for justice which runs like a drumbeat through the Old and New Testaments, summed up in Amos 5.24: ‘Let justice roll down like waters and true living like an ever-flowing stream’, a prophetic emphasis picked up by Jesus when he identified the ‘weightier matters of the law’: justice, compassion and good faith. Let us take these in turn and see whether David Cameron’s recognition of Jesus Christ as the Light of the world (in his 2012 Christmas speech) is expressed or denied in practice …

Mammon Rules, by Ian M. Fraser

Service of Thanksgiving and Commitment on the 75th anniversary of the Iona Community

There have been many requests for copies of the 75th anniversary service of the Iona Community, which took place at Govan Old Parish Church, Sunday, June 9th, 2013.  The complete service, including Leader Peter Macdonald’s reflection and a beautiful prayer of thanksgiving by John Harvey, can now be downloaded here:

75th Anniversary Service


Wonderful photos of the 75th Anniversary weekend, from member David Coleman

A video of the 75th Anniversary service, by member Mitchell Bunting

© Steve Raw

© Steve Raw


Prayer of thanksgiving for the community of Govan, from the 75th anniversary service of the Iona Community, by John Harvey

Living God,
Creator, Son and Spirit,
you have shown yourself to us
as a community of love,
offered to your whole creation
as a model for fullness of life.

Today we give special thanks
for this community of Govan,
so central to the life of the Iona Community
over these many years.

We thank you
that through all the centuries
of change, of growth, of struggle, of success and failure,
there rang throughout this community
the hammer-sounds of solidarity,
of resilience, of strong civic pride –
sounds which have been heard
with renewed resonance
in these last days.

We thank you
that from the very beginning of this community of Govan,
the Gospel was heard here –
lived and proclaimed by Celtic monks,
Roman priests, Reformed ministers,
and countless numbers of men, women and children –
and is still lived and heard
even now, in these challenging times,
helping, as in all the years gone by,
to support, form and challenge the people,
the families, the society of this place.

Especially do we thank you today
for the gifts this community of Govan
has given to the Iona Community
over these 75 years:

through the life-changing ministry
of our founder, George MacLeod;

through the men and women of Govan
who have helped to form the Iona Community
over the decades;

through the worship of this parish church,
so influential in forming the worship on Iona
in so many ways;

through the Pearce Institute,
a resting-place and a power-house
for our work in Glasgow and far beyond.

In love and gratitude,
on this special day,
we commend this community of Govan
to your continuing care and guidance,
in its heart, its body and its soul,
in the name of the Trinity of Love,

God the Creator,
Christ the Redeemer,
Spirit the Enabler,
now and forever.


John Harvey





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