Restoring Faith in the Safety Net, from Church Action on Poverty

Restoring Faith in the Safety Net presents a detailed overview of the holes that have appeared in our benefits safety net, strongly restates the case for the welfare safety net and lays out recommendations for action to reinstate the safety net principle.

The publication has been prepared by Church Action on Poverty’s team in collaboration with social research consultant Jane Perry. It draws on evidence from many sources, including the Department for Work and Pensions’ own records as well as the Trussell Trust, Oxfam, the Church of England and others.

Restoring Faith in the Safety Net

Church Action on Poverty

Anti-poverty campaigner dedicates award to everyone receiving social security

The Rev Paul Nicolson, founder of the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust and anti-poverty campaign Taxpayers Against Poverty – and associate member of the Iona Community – has received ‘The Best Non-academic 2015’ national award from the Social Policy Association (SPA) for his outstanding contribution to the field of social policy through campaigning, lobbying, service provision and research. The award was made on 6 July at the Social Policy Association Annual dinner in Belfast.

Paul’s acceptance speech

Taxpayers Against Poverty

Zacchaeus 2000 Trust: Justice for Vulnerable Debitors


Paul Nicolson, from the Taxpayers Against Poverty website, photo ©

Dundee Fairness Commission, from friend of the Community Erik Cramb

The Dundee Fairness Commission is a new group committed to pulling Dundonians out of crippling poverty. Erik Cramb, a member of the Dundee Pensioners’ Forum and former Chair of Church Action on Poverty, has recently been blogging about the Commission’s work:

Erik’s blog

Blog will be used to tackle Dundee Poverty Problem, from The Corrier

Dundee Fairness Commission

Scottish March for Climate Action: Saturday, 28th November, Edinburgh, from Stop Climate Chaos

Join us in Edinburgh on 28th November to march for climate action …

2015 is a crucial year in the fight against climate change. This December world leaders will meet at the UN climate talks in Paris to negotiate an international deal to limit global warming. A fair and ambitious agreement is vital. Join hundreds of thousands of people in capital cities around the world marching for climate action as the UN climate talks in Paris begin.

The Iona Community is a member of the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland coalition.

Scottish March for Climate Action

Stop Climate Chaos

Stop Climate Chaos 11

From the Stop Climate Chaos website, photo ©

Members, associates and friends

Minister’s love of tea spreads to the White House, from the Church of Scotland website

‘A cup of tea is in the toolbox of any good minister. But growing your own and having it given to the President of the United States is surely going above and beyond the call of duty. This is the incredible experience of Rev Liz Gibson, a minister on Mull [and Iona Community member], who only a year ago decided to turn her hand to tea-growing with husband Martyn. Their Scottish Antler brand of char was presented to Barack Obama as a gift from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during her recent visit to the US. “We were gobsmacked to hear about this,” says Liz …’


Note: Liz and Martyn welcome short-term volunteers through WWOOF UK – folk from a range of countries have spent time on their croft planting tea and fruit, clearing bracken and in many other permaculture-based activities.


Liz and Martyn Gibson on their croft on Mull, photo by Hamish Gibson ©

New chaplain for General Synod, from the Church of England website

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are pleased to announce the appointment of the Revd Michael Gisbourne, Vicar of Scotforth St Paul in the Diocese of Blackburn [and Iona Community member], as Chaplain to the General Synod for the next five-year session …

New Chaplain for General Synod


Michael Gisbourne, from the Church of England website, photo ©

Food Matters: a week at the MacLeod Centre on Iona, 12-18th September, 2015

Sharing delicious food is at the heart of living in community; food justice is at the heart of God’s created order. This week at the Mac will open up some key issues we all face in producing, buying and eating food.

Led by Liz Dowler, Iona Community member, and Geoff Tansey, writer and broadcaster. Liz and Geoff are both members of the Food Ethics Council.

To book

The Macleod Centre

The MacLeod Centre, Iona, photo ©

Work for the Iona Community on Iona or at Camas, from the Iona Community

Are you looking for an alternative, counter-cultural and spiritually challenging way to live and work? Then consider joining the Resident Staff at our centres on the isle of Iona or at Camas on Mull – to share a common life and extend our ministry of hospitality to guests from all over the world …

We are currently advertising the following posts:

Camas Coordinator – deadline for applications: 23rd August, 2015

Programme Coordinator on Iona – deadline for applications: 2nd September, 2015

For more information and application forms

Note: We are in the process of advertising a number of posts, so please keep an eye on the website:

Iona Community


© David Coleman

‘A taste of Iona’, with Lesley Orr, 7th November 2015, in Zwolle, Holland, from Teun Kruijswijk Jansen of the Dutch Iona Group

For information and to register: en [email protected]

Or contact Teun Kruijswijk Jansen (see Members Book)

Microsoft Word - 2015-4-20 A taste of Iona aankondigingen.docx


Iona Community North East England Regional Plenary Meeting, Saturday 27th February, 2016, at St Antony’s Priory, Durham, 10:30-16:00


Photo by David Coleman ©

Calling all members, Associate members and Friends of the Iona Community in the North East of England, the surrounding regions and from afar!

You are invited to the first ever NE Regional Plenary!

The theme is ‘Exploring Good Society in North East England’ with Niall Cooper, Coordinator of Church Action on Poverty and Iona Community Associate, leading the discussions.

The Plenary sessions consider ‘A conversation about good society where we live’, ‘Hopes and plans for the region’, and will finish with worship, including the Associates’ reaffirmation responses.

We will have time to get to know each other better; and we will discuss how to organise future events and activities across the region.

To help us with the planning of this event could you please send a quick response just to let us know if you are interested in attending – as soon as possible, and by 31st January 2016 at the latest. Thanks!

 A contribution of £6 is requested towards the cost of the venue; and please bring along something for a shared lunch.

Child care can be arranged, but we would need to know your requirements (ASAP please, and by end of December 2015 at the latest) to allow us time to organise this.

You can find out about St Antony’s Priory, a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city, here

We recommend you travel by public transport – St Antony’s Priory is about 15 minutes’ walk from the train station (mostly downhill, on the way there!) – or you can use the Park and Ride. (Parking at St Antony’s is limited to about 4 cars.)

Please contact Jenie Lismore or Kate Potts (see Members book) for further information.

Glasgow Staff training day with Place for Hope

Recently some of the staff from the Iona Community’s Glasgow office attended a staff training day at Wiston Lodge, near Biggar, with Ruth Harvey and Hugh Donald, representatives from Place for Hope. Place for Hope seeks to equip people of faith with the means to address change and difference.

Folk had a good day of talks, chats, sharing food, being out in the country and enjoying each other’s company. Thanks to Place for Hope, and to Wiston Lodge for hosting this.

Place for Hope

Wiston Lodge

Staff training day

Some of the Glasgow staff at Staff Training Day at Wiston Lodge, photo ©


The Smokescreen Budget, by Ian M. Fraser

A reflection on the recent UK budget, by member Ian M. Fraser …

‘… In the Book of Ecclesiasticus, 38, the honour due to the doctor and the intellectual is duly acknowledged. The question is then raised: ‘whose work sustains the fabric of the world?’ – keeps its essential life going from one day to another. The answer is: the basic worker. It is a twisted society which does not acknowledge and honour that. Osborne’s is the budget of a twisted society, as far from reality as is Alice in Wonderland. When, in a budget speech, a smokescreen is deliberately put in place, the wise will peer underneath to see what realities are being concealed. How is this done?’ …’ – Ian M. Fraser

Ian Fraser, who is now 94 years old, has been a pastor-labourer in heavy industry, a parish minister, Warden of Scottish Churches House, an Executive Secretary of the World Council of Churches, and Dean and Head of the Department of Mission at Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham. He is the author of numerous books, including Strange Fire, The Way Ahead: Grown-up Christians, and Reinventing Theology, which is used as a standard theological sourcebook throughout the world.??Ian is one of the original members of the Iona Community who helped George MacLeod to rebuild ?the common life? and the Abbey buildings on the isle of Iona. Throughout his life Ian has travelled the world, alone and with his wife, Margaret, visiting basic Christian communities. He has walked alongside slum dwellers in India and Haiti; Nicaraguan and Cuban revolutionaries; priests, nuns and catechists facing arrest and/or death in Central and South America; and small farming and fishing communities in the Philippines. 

The Smokescreen Budget


Some images of life in community. Enjoy! …

Standing in as Abbey musician, by David Coleman

Iona: Charity haircut, by David Coleman

The 1993 Easter Midnight Service from Iona Abbey, from YouTube


Working together for change, by John Harvey

When you came among us, Jesus,
to announce the arrival
of God’s new community
in the midst of our broken world,
you chose both words and action
to make your message plain.

And the model you left us
inspires us still.
For you chose to work
not on your own
but with colleagues:
men and women like us,
burdened with responsibilities,
often confused and anxious,
yet willing to be together
in your presence,
and slowly to become
the change that God still wants
for all peoples, everywhere.

So help us, we pray,
as we recommit ourselves
to working together for change,
with you,
in the place where we are –
for it is indeed holy ground.

Help us to look
with eyes of faith,
and see, not so much the weakness
or the failures
of our common action,
but rather the strength and the hope we have
through our different gifts
and our combined efforts.

And when people watch us,
no matter whether they admire
or criticise our actions,
may they be inspired by your Spirit
to stand up and stand together
in common endeavour
for the sake of the values
that you came to plant
among us.

We pray in your name. Amen

– John Harvey, from the upcoming Wild Goose book ‘Praying with the Iona Community’

Wild Goose Publications


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