The 2014 Islands Programme

The Iona Community’s 2014 Islands Programme is now online. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out here. There are brilliant themed weeks and lots of open weeks too – see you on Iona or at Camas in 2014. (Ed.)

2014 Islands Programme

2014 Camas Programme

Photo ©

Photo ©

The Camas Diary: blog from Camas

Speaking of Camas: following are a few extracts from the 2013 Camas Diary! The Camas Diary is a blog written by staff and volunteers of Camas (Ed.)

… Our Camas community this week was made up of sparky young folk from the Gorbals, accompanied by two lovely youth leaders.

The mid-week camp at Market Bay was lots of fun, with otter and porpoise sightings, edge-of-the-world chats and stories around the campfire – the camp meal of baked potatoes and baked beans was particularly tasty. Another day, we shared a reflection, sitting together around a little fire in the newly built Round House at the top of the Camas garden. We talked about what was important about shelter, and what our needs were as human beings, and then shared the key features of our imagined ideal homes. I look forward to visiting!

The new polytunnel was in its prime, with lots to water, pick and marvel over.

The week came to a close with the ‘Camas challenge’ on Thursday night. The cooking was a breeze, with two young pros handling everything very calmly. The entertainment drew lots of laughs, with a comedy sketch, singing and spooky storytelling. A great week! …

We welcomed a fantastic group from the Provanmill/Blackhill area of Glasgow who made their once-a-year journey to Camas. So many of the young people and leaders had been before – and were very excited to be back. As soon as the group arrived they changed straight into their impressive assortment of animal onesies!

As the group had been before they had already achieved the first level of the John Muir Award. So this time they aimed to progress and take on the Explorer part of the award. This is more challenging to achieve but the group had already been working hard in Glasgow by organising litter-picks in their local park.

This award linked in with the nature walks done on their first day at Camas, where the group hiked to Trig Point. The walk was really enjoyable – but we nearly lost two of the group to the Bogness Monster! One great moment was when one young person stood on a hill and started shouting famous lines from Braveheart!

We even camped on Iona, and went to the Monday night ceilidh in the village hall, which included a zebra, tiger, monkey, giraffe and gorilla all dancing away to Strip the Willow …

The Freeman College week started with a desire to catch a mermaid and eat it with chips. There were quite a few attempts of fishing one but none were successful.

We had lots of laughs going kayaking, abseiling, and camping (or rather glamping) on Iona.

One night we had a wild dinner on Ardanalish, a beautiful sandy beach.

After an amazing Camas challenge meal, one of the Freeman staff dressed up as an old captain who had lost his treasure. He suspected that the wild Camas Pirates had hidden it. As there were some clues left, everyone helped by collecting pieces of a big map which explained the way to the treasure. The treasured Haribos and chocolate were eaten during more songs and poems …

More from the Camas Diary


Photo © David Coleman

Photo © David Coleman

The Fellowship of Reconciliation week on Iona: Pilgrims for Peace, May 17-23, 2014

The Fellowship of Reconciliation will be leading a cross-centre week on Iona in 2014 called ‘Pilgrims for Peace’: celebrating 100 years of nonviolent peacemaking, forgiveness, compassion and reconciliation with the Fellowship of Reconciliation. The week will be led by Rev. David Mumford, chair for FoR Scotland and Episcopalian rector of Bechin, and Denis Beaumont, a Trustee of FoR, England, Pastoral Worker at Wolverhampton Methodist Circuit and associate of the Iona Community.

For more information

Fellowship of Reconciliation, Scotland

From the Fellowship of Reconciliation website ©

Artwork from the FOR website ©

City of Sanctuary week on Iona, May 31st-June 6th

The City of Sanctuary Movement is a grassroots network of cities and towns working together to create a culture of peace, inclusiveness and welcome for those who have had to flee their homes and seek sanctuary. The week on Iona will explore ways of understanding what drives refugees from their homes, how they come to the UK, how we as a nation and as individuals respond, and how we can work together to create a culture of sanctuary. Led by Tiffy Allen and representatives of the City of Sanctuary Movement.

For more information

City of Sanctuary


Tartan Jesus … Distinctive patterns for the fabric of a nation: the new Holy City programme, January–May 2014, in Glasgow

From Holy City/WGRG:

Holy City’s January -May 2014 programme is entitled ‘Tartan Jesus’ and explores the issues that Scotland will face, beyond September 2014, irrespective of a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’ vote in the forthcoming referendum on independence. Each evening consists of participative, reflective workshops and liturgy engaging body, mind and spirit.

The five events will be on the first Sunday of the month: 5th January, 2nd February, 2nd March, 6th April, 4th May 2014 at 6.30-9.30pm in Renfield St Stephen’s Centre, 260 Bath Street, Glasgow.

Holy City is organised by the Wild Goose Resource Group of the Iona Community: John L. Bell, Jo Love and Graham Maule – and a fine and motley crew of citizens, the immaculate Holy City Planning Group.

Holy City

GRAMNet Film Series 2013/2014, in Glasgow

From GRAMNet (Glasgow Refugee and Asylum Network):

The 2013/2014 Film Series is organised in partnership between GRAMNet, BEMIS Scotland (Black and Ethnic Minorities Infrastructure in Scotland) and the Iona Community.

This year we will showcase films and documentaries that feature themes of integration and exclusion, both within communities and in a larger political context. Our emphasis is on the social and political concerns raised by displacement and our theme for this year is ‘Homecoming and Hospitality’. Following each film, invited organisations and community groups will suggest positive actions that can be undertaken locally to address one or more of the issues raised in each film.

Screenings are accompanied by forums and Q&A for everyone to share their views and thoughts in a friendly and supportive atmosphere. The audience is warmly invited to congregate in the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) Café following each screening to continue our informal discussions.

Events are free of charge and open to everyone.

For the description and schedule of films



Iona Community

2014 Spring Peace Walk, from Scottish CND

Scottish CND is planning a peace walk in spring 2014. This will be an opportunity to raise awareness and build a stronger campaign against nuclear weapons and Trident renewal. For information:

Scottish CND


Britain Isn’t Eating

From Church Action on Poverty:

This May, Church Action on Poverty and Oxfam launched Walking the Breadline, a report on the growing problem of food poverty. We highlighted two appalling injustices: that half a million people are now dependent on emergency food aid in the world’s seventh richest country; and that the single most common reason for people to go hungry like this is because their benefits have been delayed or stopped. Effectively, government policy is now creating destitution and hunger on a huge scale. We are therefore calling for an urgent inquiry into the links between our benefits system and the rise in food poverty.

The report has made waves, appearing on the front page of national newspapers and being discussed in the TV news. Thousands of people have contacted their MPs about it. Questions have been raised in the Houses of Parliament. Church Action on Poverty and Oxfam are to give evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee on Work and Pensions.

We can ensure that the government takes action on this. But we need your support to help us keep up the pressure.

With your help, we will run a funny, engaging and high-profile publicity campaign. It will keep hunger in the headlines, engage more people to support our campaign, and ensure that politicians listen to what we have to say.

We have created a ‘subvertisement’ – a parody of the Conservative party’s famous ‘Labour Isn’t Working’ 1979 election poster. The message on our poster is ‘Britain Isn’t Eating’, with a web link which will allow people to read our report and support our campaign.

We want to get this billboard poster everywhere, including key events and locations like the Houses of Parliament and the political party conferences. Everywhere it appears, it will provide great opportunities for us to get photos in the media, and a platform for us to spread our message and our call for action.

Please donate if you can, and help us to get our message on the road!

Britain Isn’t Eating


Members, associates and friends

An invitation to Thurso, from friend of the Community Brian Leonard, Chairman of the vacancy committee at Thurso West Church

Who on earth would want to visit the north coast of Scotland – the lowlands beyond the Highlands – let alone become a minister at Thurso West Church of Scotland? Is the congregation on a ‘wild goose chase’? Perhaps we can give you some answers.

Thurso has a long history but started to grow in the 1950s with the arrival of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority at Dounreay. Locals and incomers integrated happily and to this day Thurso remains a lively and friendly place.

Previous ministers of Thurso West were members of the Iona Community and so was a past Session Clerk. They brought the ideals of the Iona Community to Thurso West Church. The Church has excellent ecumenical relations with all the other churches in the town and many of the members of the congregation are actively involved in supporting various charitable organisations.

The people in the church are also very supportive of each other and genuinely feel that they are worshipping with and caring for their extended family. The Choir and the Guild are particularly happy groups. The Sunday School, which is held at the same time as the church service, has about 12 children of primary school age, and about half a dozen high-school youngsters meet on Sunday evenings.

Thurso West is very fortunate at present in having an excellent Locum, but he is a retired minister, so they have to look for someone ‘less mature’ to guide, inspire and lead them into the future.

Caithness Presbytery is lively and progressive, adopting an innovative approach to Presbytery Planning. Thurso West is one of three parishes in the ‘West Parish Grouping’ – a feature of the Plan. The Presbytery was recently augmented by three ‘Locally Ordained Ministers’, soon to be joined by a fourth.

Many people who have come to Thurso have happily settled and often retired here – and it’s certainly worth a visit as, whatever the weather, you would get a warm welcome in the town and in Thurso West Church.

If you would like to know more about Thurso West, please contact the Clerk to the Nominating Committee, Mrs Heather McLean:

Or, if you or your friends are just passing through Caithness on holiday, please call in to  say ‘hello’ and have a look at our beautifully refurbished church sanctuary.

– Brian Leonard

A tribute to friend of the Community Isabel Duncan … 

Isabel Duncan, family photo ©

Isabel Duncan, family photo ©



Isabel Duncan, who died on 25th October, had longstanding links with the Iona Community. Her husband Malcolm Duncan, greatly influenced by Raymond Bailey when a student at Oxford in the early 1950s, and subsequently by George Macleod, was an Iona Community member for many years, helping to rebuild the Abbey buildings. Isabel herself, on returning to Edinburgh from overseas, was a member of a local Iona group in Edinburgh for some years. And Malcolm and Isabel, while missionaries in Pakistan in the early 1960s, headed over to Allahabad in India for an Iona Community get-together!

Isabel was born in 1930 in Nuwara Eliya, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) where her father worked as a scientist at the Tea Research Institute of Ceylon; and went to Adelaide in Australia for most of her secondary schooling, because of the outbreak of the Second World War. While studying English at Bristol University, she became heavily involved in the Student Christian Movement and became ‘Lady President’ of the SCM group there. After university, she worked as a travelling secretary for the SCM, based in London. It was there that she met Malcolm, who was international students’ secretary for SCM at the time. They were married in 1956, and went the next year to serve God in Pakistan, where Malcolm was ordained as a minister of the Church of Pakistan.

In 1961, Malcolm developed jaundice and fell into a coma – he narrowly escaped death but was spared though earnest prayer across the missionary community in Pakistan and abroad. Tragically, he drowned on a family holiday on his beloved Iona in 1967, while the family were staying with Ralph and Jenny Morton. Despite this trauma, Isabel went on to lead a full and active life after Malcolm’s death. She immediately returned to Pakistan for several years, in retrospect, among her happiest years despite her bereavement.

In 1970, she came to Edinburgh with three young children – Graham, Alan and Jan – and established a life for herself and her family. She worked as a social worker, pioneering work on innovative forms of supported accommodation for older people. For a while, she was on the Board of Kirk Care Housing. It was her sense of justice and compassion which got her fighting for better standards in private hostels and care homes around Edinburgh – a cause which saw her lobbying, and working with, Lord James Douglas-Hamilton (her local MP at the time) and a young backbench MP called Gordon Brown.

She was heavily involved in her local parish church in Davidson’s Mains, encouraging a particular focus on prayer. She established and led a youth fellowship there, influencing many young people for good. For a period, she was also the Prayer Co-ordinator for the Presbytery of Edinburgh.

She developed a keen interest in hillwalking and conquered over 50 Munros, making many friends along the way. In 1997, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, ironic given her previous work with Scottish Action on Dementia. In 2001, she moved into Strachan House, a local care home, where she remained until her death.

Isabel was a strong woman but with a soft centre. She was a passionate Christian and the outworking of her faith was her deeply felt care for the people around her. She was not so much a pillar of the church as a thorn in the side of its more nominal elements, strongly encouraging those round her to a more real and personal relationship with God. Her strength of character was apparent to the end as she clung onto life for much longer than the professionals had expected. A life well-lived indeed.

– Graham Duncan 


A prayer for Advent, by Kate Mcllhagga

Anja Grosse-Uhlmann photo ©

Photo © Anja Grosse-Uhlmann

Now is the time of watching and waiting
a time pregnant with hope
a time to watch and pray.

Christ our Advent hope,
bare brown trees
etched dark across a winter sky,
leaves fallen, rustling,
ground hard and cold,
remind us to prepare for your coming;
remind us to prepare for the time
when the soles of your feet will touch the ground,
when you will become one of us
to be at one with us.

May we watch for the signs,
listen for the messenger,
wait for the good news to slip into our world, our lives.

Christ our Advent hope,
help us to clear the way for you;
to clear the clutter from our minds,
to sift the silt from our hearts,
to move the boulders that prevent us meeting you.

Help us to make straight the highways,
to unravel the deception that leads to war,
to release those in captivity.
May sorrow take flight,
and your people sing a song of peace
and hope be born again.

From The Green Heart of the Snowdrop,
by Kate Mcllhagga, Wild Goose Publications

The Green Heart of the Snowdrop

Wild Goose Publications

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