Members, associates and friends

Meet the new members

During August Community Week on Iona nine folk were hallowed as members of the Iona Community. A wee bit about them here (Ed.):

Ian Fraser:

Locum minister, retired; married to Linda, four children, five grandchildren; passionately believe local people can, and do, run their own organisations, such as credit unions, housing associations and social enterprises; Convenor South Glasgow Family Group.

Frank Schulte:

My wife Silvia and I have three children. I’m a Presbyterian parish minister in Hattingen, Germany and doing a lot of youth work. Presently in Norway on a church youth camp with 75 young people. Renewal of the Church in Germany is a big task and I like to be creative in different parts of my ministry work.

Susan Lindsay:

Susan is a former Iona volunteer and resident who has been working to raise money and awareness for the cause of justice and peace in Israel/Palestine. For her story about how she became involved with the Iona Community, read ‘A journey and a homecoming’ in this issue of e-Coracle.

Rosalyn Sutcliffe:

I’m a former Iona children’s work vollie (1999 and 2000), and now a Children’s Social Worker for North Yorkshire County Council. Social work with children is something I very much believe I am called to do. I’m passionate about improving the life chances of vulnerable children and young people and work hard to do the best for those on my caseload. I live in York, where I attend a local ecumenical church and am part of the Yorkshire 1 Family Group. I enjoy singing, swimming, meeting friends for tea and cake and spending time with my niece, nephews and godchildren.

Bob Thomas:

Bob Thomas lives in the south of England and is active in the support of refugees and asylum seekers and is a member of the Green Party. He is a passionate supporter of the Wales rugby team.

Jean Belgrove:

My New Members project, entitled ‘Connecting with my community’, involved joining a team to protest that our buses had been cut (two bus routes are now working). Also, the farmers market had left our area, and so I wrote to all our parish councils asking that we begin our own local market (we now have a regular monthly market). Finally, worked on achieving the bronze eco-congregation award for our churches.

Stephan Arras:

Working as a volunteer in maintenance and music on Iona was the beginning of my journey with the Iona Community. Originally from Germany, where I was a Dean, together with my wife, Larissa, I live in Dublin, where I’m the Pastor of the Lutheran Church in Ireland, responsible for German folk in the Republic and Northern Ireland. Building bridges between different people with different opinions is one of my life themes since I studied theology in Jerusalem in an ecumenical programme, with open eyes and ears for both the Israelis and the Palestinians. The Iona Community gives me strength to continue on this path. I’m grateful for all the lovely and encouraging people I met recently during August Community Week on Iona.

Trevor Jones:

I have been visiting and volunteering on Iona since about 1995. I usually work for Shuggie (Maintenance Coordinator), doing the jobs that either he does not have time to do, or cannot get anyone else to do. That invariably means painting or gardening. He refers to me as ‘Agent Orange’, which might give a clue to my gardening style. I am also currently banned from strimmers and the mower, for no good reason that I am aware of! My pre-retirement working life was in kitchens, so I have occasionally done kitchen cover on Iona.

Irene Stok:

I live in Amersfoort, in the centre of the Netherlands. I am a church worker and work in Utrecht for the diaconie, the social part of the church. My New Members project was on the environment.

Photo: From left to right: Ian Fraser, Frank Schulte, Susan Lindsay, Rosalyn Sutcliffe, Bob Thomas, Jean Belgrove, Stephan Arras, Trevor Jones and Irene Stok, down in front, photo ©

Photos and news of Iona Community gatherings – please send to Editor of e-Coracle Neil Paynter at [email protected]

A lovely sunny, spirited Community Week photo below of members Ian M Fraser and Rachel McCann, snapped by Jan Sutch Pickard. (Thanks, Jan.)

If you have any photos and news of Iona Community gatherings – please send. Thank you.


Neil Paynter (Ed.)

[email protected]

A blessing for building community

May the blessing of the fierce love of God the Father
be in our actions,
as we strive for justice for those
who live on the margins
and who are excluded from our communities.

May the blessing of the compassion of God the Son
be in our hearts,
as we listen to the needs and wisdom of our neighbours,
in love,
with hope in our hearts.

May the blessing of the peace of God the Spirit,
who passes all understanding,
be in our minds;
may She rest on us, and in us,
and within our homes and communities,
as we reach out
to a hurting world.

Susan Dale, from In the Gift of This New Day: Praying with the Iona Community, Neil Paynter (Ed.), Wild Goose Publications

Photo © Jan Sutch Pickard

Never Give Up: My life story from Uganda to Iona: new book by Iona Resident group member Doreen Nyamwija

Proceeds from this book will go towards Dora’s ‘Loos for All to Use’ project

The price of the book is £10 pounds.

To order, please e-mail Dora at: [email protected]

Foreword of Never Give Up, by John L. Bell:

Doreen Nyamwija, otherwise known as Dora, is a woman of the world: her experience straddles continents, her enthusiasm and empathy are unbounded, and her faith is transparent and all-inclusive.

Coming from Uganda, a country not famed for good governance or tolerance, she represents a kinder face of her nation, perhaps because her early days acquainted her with difference, limited means and a lack of privilege – the kind of soil which raises people who see life more in terms of blessing than entitlement.

Any who met her in the periods when she was working in Iona will never forget her – her ability to get people singing while doing manual tasks, her delight in dancing whether freestyle or coordinated. Young people will remember her for her pranks, and a special few will remember the magic of the moment when, in tribute to the woman who anointed Jesus with precious ointment, Dora – in a Holy Week service – walked the length of the Abbey church with a flask of perfume balanced on her head.

Marvellously, though she loves Britain and its people, her affection for her own country calls her back for marriage, for charitable work and for the unknown things which God has in store for her.

In this book you will find cameos of her life so far which will enlighten, encourage and challenge. We who have known her pray that the kindness she has shown and shared here will surround her in the next stage of her journey.

– John L. Bell, the Iona Community

‘The kindness of strangers: the challenges and rewards of opening your home to refugees’, by member Alison Swinfen, from The Herald

The kindness of strangers: the challenges and rewards of opening your home to refugees, from The Herald

Photo of members Alison and Robert Swinfen from the Herald. Used with permission of Alison Swinfen, photo ©

Taxpayers Against Poverty, associate Paul Nicolson

Recent news and letters from Paul Nicolson – longtime campaigner against poverty and injustice, founder of Zacchaeus 2000 Trust and Taxpayers Against Poverty.

Taxpayers Against Poverty

Photo of Paul Nicolson from Taxpayers Against Poverty ©, used with permission

‘In search of thin places’: news from the Swedish Iona-inspired Network’s 2017 summer gathering, from associate Helene Egnell

The Swedish Iona-inspired Network held its summer meeting on July 5-9 at the Hjortsbergagården Educational Centre on the lakeshore of southern Sweden. We worked on the theme ‘In search of thin places’, searching them out in theology, creativity and resistance.

Rev. Are Norrhava introduced us to Marcus Borg’s thoughts on thin places as places where the heart is opened. We need a sacramental perspective on life, where the world is seen as graced, not hostile or indifferent towards us, he said.

With Rev. Eva Danneholm we explored Isaiah 66:10-14 through Bibliodrama, finding thin places through creative readings of the text.

‘How can I, as a person who shies away from the “barricades”, make resistance against the rising populism and racism’ was the question T.D. Ulrika Svalfors invited us to discuss. Inspired by Ephesians 6:13 and John 14:27 she encouraged us to resist through engaging in earnest discussions with those with whom we disagree, questioning, but also listening, and being ready to interpret benevolently and respond constructively.

Building community through meals and worship prepared by the participants also provided us with thin places and moments.

– Helene Egnell

Photo by Helene Egnell ©

Kirkridge Retreat and Study Centre, Bangor, PA, USA

Since 1942, the Kirkridge Retreat and Study Centre has provided a place for rest and renewal to pilgrims along life’s journey. Find out what’s new with our good friends at Kirkridge:

Kirkridge Retreat and Study Centre


Photo of Kirkridge staff from the Kirkridge website ©

Open Door Community, USA: Hospitality and resistance in Baltimore, Maryland

Founders of the Open Door Community Murphy Davis and Ed Loring have been friends of the Iona Community for decades. Ed and Murphy have come to lead weeks on Iona, and Iona Community members have visited and worked at Open Door. Recently Open Door moved from Atlanta to Baltimore. News about what they’re working at there:

What the Open Door Community will be doing in Baltimore

From the Open Door website:

The Open Door Community is a residential community in the Catholic Worker tradition (we’re sometimes called a Protestant Catholic Worker House). We seek to dismantle racism, sexism and hetero-sexism, abolish the death penalty, and proclaim the Beloved Community through loving relationships with some of the most neglected and outcast of God’s children: the homeless and our sisters and brothers who are in prison. We have a prison ministry, including monthly trips for families to visit loved ones at the Hardwick Prisons in central Georgia. We also advocate on behalf of the oppressed, homeless and prisoners through non-violent protests, grassroots organising and the publication of our monthly newspaper, Hospitality.

Open Door Community

Artwork © Open Door Community

Member Brian Quail’s Anti-Trident court speech in full

‘… I looked up at a patch of blue in the sky, and it reminded me of my youngest daughter Catherine, who has particularly lovely blue eyes. Then I thought: No, it’s not just the blue eyes of my children, but the green eyes, and the brown eyes, and the grey eyes of all the children of the world – and their mothers and fathers too – that are the target of our bombs. Our fellow human beings, our brothers and sisters, whom we are prepared to burn and blast …’ (Brian Quail)

Member Brian Quail was recently arrested for taking part in a blockade of the nuclear warhead store at Coulport, and freed:

‘Angie Zelter and Brian Quail Out of Jail’, from Trident Ploughshares

Last year, he was found not guilty of breach of the peace after being arrested for blocking a nuclear convoy. During that time Brian defended himself in court. Following is a link to his hugely powerful closing speech, which you might not have read yet, published on the Autonomy Scotland website:

Brian Quail’s Anti-Trident speech, Autonomy Scotland

Photo © David Coleman (Brian in cap and yellow vest)


United Nations Nuclear Ban Treaty formally adopted, by Janet Fenton

On the 7th July this year in New York, member states of the United Nations – although not the UK and US – formally adopted a treaty which categorically prohibits nuclear weapons. Janet Fenton, Vice Chair of Scottish CND and Parliamentary Liaison of the Scottish Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), attended the negotiations on behalf of Northern Friends Peace Board (Quakers), and reports here …

After a decade-long effort by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), and 72 years after their invention, on the 7th July this year in New York, at a specially convened conference, member states of the United Nations formally adopted a treaty which categorically prohibits nuclear weapons. Scottish CND has been a partner in ICAN, working for this decision since 2007, and it helped to ensure that there was a strong Scottish delegation at the negotiations to be part of making this happen, and to witness it.

The Ban Treaty will prohibit all nuclear weapons activity by parties signed up to it as soon as it has been ratified by 50 states – less than half the number which voted for its adoption, and its impact will be felt even in the UK and the other nuclear-armed states which declare that they will not sign up. There will be practical effects on their nuclear arrangements and the states outside the treaty will be stigmatised in the same way that states choosing to utilise other banned WMD (for instance chemical weapons) are regarded as pariahs throughout the world. Going in the opposite direction, the UK Government plans instead more austerity cuts to pay for a nuclear weapon modernisation programme.

This treaty followed the banning of other WMDs through a legally measured understanding that the effects of such weapons are intrinsically unacceptable and therefore there are no circumstances that could ever justify their use. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent is the world’s largest humanitarian organisation, and after three international conferences had fully examined the impact of nuclear weapons; it was the organisation that concluded that prohibition of their use was an urgent humanitarian imperative.

In addition to the unspeakable suffering nuclear weapons cause, the international conferences and the expert evidence brought two previously disregarded factors into sharp relief for the UN member states. Firstly, it is now clear that there is a disproportionate impact of nuclear weapons on women and girls, and on indigenous peoples; and secondly, whatever work is done towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the continued doctrines supporting the possession of nuclear weapons will render work towards those goals ineffective.

The UN then set the task of writing the treaty before its members, and despite the nuclear-armed states refusing to address this task, member states and civil society have worked with zeal and cooperation to create a strong treaty that can start the next step in the process – the signature and ratification as early as September.

Trident Ploughshares (TP), the campaign to peacefully disarm the UK, has held disarmament camps at Coulport since 1998 and agreed that a camp at Coulport would take place immediately after the adoption of the United Nations Nuclear Ban Treaty in order to highlight its importance in the journey towards elimination of all nuclear weapons everywhere, and to focus on the illegal and undemocratic deployment of Trident in Scotland. Citizen action everywhere is urgently needed and people of faith have a particular part to play.

At the camp, as part of the first blockade, Angie Zelter, one of TP’s founders, with another TP stalwart, veteran of Scottish CND, Catholic Worker and retired classics teacher, Brian Quail peacefully blockaded the base. They were arrested and locked up on remand, sparking a furore on social media, a petition signed by thousands and an offer of court costs from a high-profile entertainer. Meanwhile, the camp ran its course, with Quaker Meetings for worship at the Coulport bomb store gates, singing at the Faslane entrance to the nuclear submarine base, Town criers invading the streets of Helensburgh with their bells and their ‘Good News!’ and hillwalkers challenging the MOD bye-laws intended to curtail their right to roam beside the miles of fence at Coulport. The traditional blockades resulted in a total of nine arrests, including Angie and Brian, and some new dialogue with arresting officers in light of the UN Ban Treaty.

Until now, nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction without a ban treaty, despite the widespread and catastrophic humanitarian consequences across the world of their intentional or accidental detonation. Thanks to the efforts of nuclear disarmament campaigners, nuclear victims, climate change scientists, disaster response agencies, diplomats from countries that are threatened or have been poisoned and degraded by the weapons, and wise and brave individuals that has been rectified.

The success of the Ban Treaty conference was not welcomed by the nuclear-armed states, despite their protestations that they wish to go ‘step by step’ for a multilateral approach to disarmament. A Ban Treaty is not a step, it seems, that they are prepared to take.

The UK Government was not even prepared to take any soundings on how the devolved administrations that their foreign policy is supposed to protect felt about it, and so Scotland had to take what action it could to make its voice heard amongst the majority of UN member states that were actively attempting to complete the task set by the UN for the conference, i.e. to write a ‘legally binding treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading to their elimination’.

Scotland’s parliamentarians were represented through Bill Kidd, MSP who had been at the first round of negotiations in March and arrived at the conference in the last week, once the Scottish Parliament was in recess, and gave the President of the conference a letter of support from the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. The UK General election was a huge distraction at the start of the negotiations in June, but several Scottish MPs were able to send video messages of support for the treaty and these were delivered at a side event organised by Scottish civil society.

The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) has, since its inception a hundred years ago, upheld human rights and sought negotiation and arbitration in place of armed conflict in every case. It has consultative status at the UN and its Reaching Critical Will disarmament programme manifests its opposition to nuclear weapons and is strongly supported and followed by WILPF members in Scotland. The programme coordinates the NGO participation in disarmament negotiations at the UN, including the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Also holding consultative status is the World Council of Churches, which worked with ICAN in delivering powerful statements to the conference, which were valued by the diplomats and the other NGO participants. Scotland’s civil society delegates were supported by, and included members of, WILPF, Scottish CND, MEDACT, Trident Ploughshares, Quakers and the Church of Scotland, and Christian CND.

Brian and Angie were imprisoned because they chose to refuse to sign an undertaking that would have prevented them from (lawfully) protesting at Coulport nuclear weapons store or Faslane nuclear bomb base until their trial. This was the extraordinary bail condition they were expected to agree to in order to be released pending their trial for a crime that was extremely unlikely to result in a custodial sentence. Such a condition cannot be explained as being in the public interest, given the costs attached to locking up two people who presented absolutely no risk of violent behaviour. It seemed as though upholding the interests of the UK Government and the MOD had become the position taken by the Scottish legal system rather than ascertaining a formal impartial understanding of the legal norms in a matter where the Scottish Government, in line with the majority of world governments, shared the views of the protesters. Fortunately, the bail condition was no longer sought by the procurator fiscal when the intermediate diet was held, after the camp had dispersed.

Angie had questioned the police role during the arrest of the blockaders on 10th July, reminding the officers of the Geneva and Hague Conventions and suggesting that they could refuse to arrest them as a matter of conscience and pointing out that:

‘Here in Scotland, there is an amazing chance to help this whole process of disarmament, and as a police force in Scotland, you have a much better chance to do that than officers in England and Wales, so if you could at least have a discussion about that, we would really appreciate that.’

On 20th September, the Treaty will open for signatures by member states of the UN, which is at the moment the UK Government but not the Scottish Government. But perhaps our distinct legal system and the legislation afforded by Holyrood could be utilised to seek a way to ratify the Treaty’s terms in Scots Law, conditionally in the meantime? Perhaps Scottish lawyers and politicians as well as police officers could all take Angie’s advice, and examine their consciences and consider their own part in banning weapons that could so easily bring such unspeakable suffering and environmental degradation to the world.

This support for ‘the Trident two’ is not really surprising in today’s Scotland, so eloquent and impassioned is its opposition to Trident and support for the ban. It is maybe surprising that more people do not take to the hills and gates and fences, the convoys and the parliament, the courts and the castles, filling the Scottish police cells and the courts. That would surely focus the minds and hearts.

Faith Communities at the negotiations for the treaty concluded their statement in these words:

‘As people of faith we accept as our special responsibility the work of raising awareness of the risks and consequences of nuclear weapons for current and future generations, awakening public conscience to build a global popular constituency in support of the Treaty in order to achieve and sustain a world free from nuclear weapons.’

Please contact the Ban Treaty Working Group if you can host a meeting or a discussion group on the Ban Treaty and the next steps for action in Scotland: [email protected]

– Janet Fenton, Vice Chair Scottish CND, Parliamentary Liaison Scottish WILPF

Janet Fenton, photo from ICAN Flickr, used by permission of Janet Fenton

Friends of our purpose: ‘Bridging the Gap’ and ‘Givin’ it Laldie’

Two grassroots organisations here to remember in your prayers and economic discipline.

Bridging the Gap is a charity based in Gorbals with over 15 years’ experience of working with young people, families and people from different backgrounds and cultures. Building relationships across diversity is at the core of all their work.

Givin’ it Laldie is a community music project that was set up by Gorbals Parish Church in 2010 in response to the social and health issues affecting the area. The project uses singing and music as a medium to help address issues of poverty, social isolation and poor health, and seeks to use music to help address local divisions within the community. ‘Givin’ it laldie’ is a Glasgow expression which means to do something proudly, with gusto and with passion.

Members John and Molly Harvey, and other Iona Community folk, have been deeply involved in supporting the work of both Bridging the Gap and Givin’ it Laldie … (Ed.)

Bridging the Gap, Gorbals – recent news

Bridging the Gap continues to work with vulnerable adults and children. Our main focus is to enable people to realise that they already possess the inner greatness and confidence to transform their own lives and those around them. We believe in supporting them to use their gifts and skills so that they may build a community of their choosing.

Our food initiatives have grown as the need has grown.

A breadmaking activity popular with adults and children at the Big Thursday Drop-in has now become the breadmaking initiative ‘High Rise Bakers’. It is situated in a community room at the bottom of a high-rise block of flats in the poorest part of Gorbals. Some of the most marginalised people in society are making bread by hand for local residents, a small social enterprise. One woman suffering from depression, and who lacked confidence, now helps to bake bread. She told us, ‘For 10 years all I did was sit on my chair and do nothing. I am now baking bread and my children are happy to see me doing something other than sit on a chair.’

Another recent initiative is ‘Come Dine with Us’. It takes place once a month in the evenings, providing a nutritious three-course meal cooked by the community for the community. It began when a local man who had been sanctioned spoke of how the desperation and isolation is most acute in evenings, when hunger and loneliness can be at their most harmful. Approximately 66 families and individuals come along.

Bridging the Gap

Givin’ it Laldie: Making music in the Gorbals – recent news

We have just returned from our summer break here at Givin’ it Laldie. We are singing new songs, learning new music and catching up with each other – it’s great to be back. Givin’ it Laldie is undergoing an exciting time of expansion. We have a wonderful new member of our team, Michelle Burke, who brings with her a beautiful voice, much expertise, knowledge and of course a sense of fun. We are also hoping to start up several new groups within the project this term, including a Family Music Group, a Youth Singing Group and a singing group within a sheltered housing complex. We hope our Family Music Group will be a place where families can come together to make music in a safe and joyful environment. Our Youth Music Project will be aimed at secondary-school-aged individuals. We thank the Iona Community for their continued and ongoing support here at Givin’ it Laldie.

Givin’ it Laldie

Iona, Camas and Glasgow

‘If we don’t have love, we are nothing but the noise of popping balloons’: Iona Youth Festival 2017

A great photo here of some of the participants at Iona Youth Festival – which was a great success – as usual, a time of creativity, challenge, togetherness and fun!

And a prayer from the Youth Week service:

If we speak in the language of both earth and heaven, but don’t have love, we are nothing but the noise of popping balloons.
And if we have powers and ability, privilege and faith, but don’t love, we are nothing.
If we give it all up – my body and my wealth, but do not have love, we gain nothing.

Together we proclaim that LOVE IS ……
And also that LOVE IS NOT ……
But we know that until the end of time we must have faith, have hope, and have love;
and the greatest of these is love.

Photos © Iona Youth Department, used with permission

New books from Wild Goose Publications: We bring you everything, and tip it out in front of you: New Prayers from the Iona Community and Wild Goose Big Book of Liturgies

We bring you everything, and tip it out in front of you: New Prayers from the Iona Community, Neil Paynter (Ed.)

Here, in the ‘Celtic’ tradition, are prayers from members, associates and friends of the Iona Community for the whole of life: for starting an engine, for keeping us engaged and on the road to God’s Kingdom; for taking a daily walk, for refugees travelling dangerous seas; an Iona Abbey kitchen prayer for chopping carrots, making bread and sanitising surfaces, and a Harvest supper prayer of sharing; prayers for personal healing, and for our deeply wounded world; a prayer for self-knowledge, and another for doing the laundry and remembering ‘lost socks’ …

Contributors include: Tom Gordon, John Harvey, Jan Sutch Pickard, Peter Millar, Rosemary Power, David McNeish, David Osborne, Ewan Aitken, Anna Briggs, Elaine Gisbourne, Thom M Shuman, Chris Polhill, Neil Paynter and others.

Lord God …
we bring you everything,
and tip it out in front of you …

And now we pause a while in silence,
waiting for you to show us what we need to understand …

(From a prayer by Roddy Cowie)

We bring you everything, and tip it out in front of you: New prayers from the Iona Community


Wild Goose Big Book of Liturgies, the Iona Community

Liturgies for Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter, Transfiguration, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, All Saints’, St Columba’s Day, Father’s Day; on hunger, economic witness, peacemaking, the environment, pilgrimage, welcome, hospitality and friendship. Includes a blessing liturgy for a marriage or partnership, a wedding/partnership ceremony and resources for a memorial event.

Full communion services and shorts acts of worship; liturgies for small groups and all-age gatherings; worship rooted in church life and the Iona Community’s resident group on Iona, in social justice and pastoral work. So – as always with the Iona Community – worship which is contextual, with a strong justice and peace edge.

Originally published as single digital downloads by Wild Goose, these are now all brought together for the first time in the second of at least two Big Books of resources and liturgies.

Contributors include: John Harvey, Nancy Cocks, Tom Gordon, Jan Sutch Pickard, Joy Mead, Chris Polhill, Ian M Fraser, Thom M Shuman, Alison Swinfen, Annie Heppenstall, Norman Shanks and others.

God of the rhinoceros and the midge,
God of the Large Hadron Collider and the iPhone,
help us to sense your presence in and through all things.
God whose grace is sufficient for all our needs,
help us to be people of compassion, justice and peace.

(Norman Shanks, from ‘A liturgy for the Feast of the Transfiguration’)

Wild Goose Big Book of Liturgies

weeWONDERBOX 2017-18 programme now out!, from the Iona Community’s Programme team and the Wild Goose Resource Group

weeWONDERBOX is a series of face-to-face events that mainly, though not exclusively, take place in central Glasgow.

The vision that inspires us is the renewal of incarnational, face-to-face public occasions where committed, faithful folk can engage with the pressing issues and challenges of God’s world in all its glorious variety and contradiction.

weeWONDERBOX 2017-2018 programme

John Bell on the road: South Africa, UK, America, Canada … from WGRG

John Bell will be on the road for parts of September and October, leading Sings and workshops. To find out more, and if he will be in your neighbourhood:

John Bell and other WGRG events

Photo from WGRG website ©

The story of the creation of the Camas scarecrow, by Camas Resident group member Rhyddian Knight

Each August, the Bunessan agricultural show seeks entrants from households throughout the Ross of Mull for its ‘Scarecrow trail’.  The trail becomes a tourist attraction – folk can vote on their favourite, most topical and most unusual exhibit.

I was so inspired by the non-violent direct action and testimony of Iona Community member Brian Quail, that I asked the Camas team if they would consider submitting a ‘Trident-themed’ scarecrow this year. Thousands of people drive past the Camas road end on their way to Iona, so we feel our scarecrow will do much to draw attention to the shadow of death beneath the waters of Argyll.

Thank you, Brian.

– Rhyddian Knight

Rhyddian Knight is an outdoor education practitioner, facilitator and trainer.

Rhyddian Knight


Camas Diary

Photo © Camas

News and campaigns

ATD Fourth World blog: giving poverty a voice

From ATD Fourth World:

This blog was created to give people living in poverty a chance to speak out about their experiences, challenges, aspirations and ideas.

ATD Fourth World blog: giving poverty a voice

Church Action on Poverty

From CAP:

Church Action on Poverty is a national ecumenical Christian social justice charity, committed to tackling poverty in the UK. We work in partnership with churches and with people in poverty themselves to find solutions to poverty, locally, nationally and globally.

Become part of our movement for change right now! Give, Act or Pray to Close the Gap between rich and poor!

Church Action on Poverty

The Poverty Truth Commission 

From the Poverty Truth Commission:

The Poverty Truth Commission brings together some of Scotland’s key decision-makers with those living at the sharp end of poverty. We work together towards overcoming poverty in Scotland; ensuring that those affected by decisions are central to decision-making. The Commission believes poverty will only be truly addressed when those who experience it first-hand are at the heart of the process.

Poverty Truth Commission


GalGael Trust, Govan

From the GalGael Trust:

At GalGael, we have created a cultural anchor point around which local people are rekindling skills, community and a sense of purpose.

GalGael provides learning experiences anchored in practical activities that offer purpose and meaning.

We provide a space that serves as something of a safe harbour for those whose lives have been battered by storms such as worklessness, depression or addiction.

We offer a workplace that challenges, inspires and creates the conditions conducive to learning; a space where mistakes are not only made but owned as our best teachers, where issues are left at the door and new identities forged.


GalGael on Iona, photo ©

Poverty Alliance: Working together to combat poverty

From Poverty Alliance:

The Poverty Alliance is a network of individuals and organisations across Scotland working together to combat poverty.

The Iona Community is a member of Poverty Alliance.

Poverty Alliance campaigns

Petition: ‘Gaza in crisis: A political choice, not a natural disaster’, from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign

From the Palestine Solidarity Campaign:

The world knows Gaza is in crisis. No clean water, only 3-4 hours electricity a day and not enough medicine. Nearly 2 million people live besieged in conditions the UN describes as a human dignity crisis. But this is not a natural disaster – it is a political choice to punish the Palestinian people. A decision made by Israel with the support of the governments of the US, UK and EU …

More and to sign the petition

Stop Arming Saudi Arabia, from Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT)

From CAAT:

CAAT is challenging the UK government’s decision to continue to licence the export of military equipment to Saudi Arabia.

In a judgement handed down on 10 July 2017 the High Court refused our Judicial Review of the government’s decision to keep arming Saudi Arabia. But the legal battle doesn’t end here. We will fight this every step of the way and have already begun the process of appealing the judgement.

Read about the case so far and take action

Photo CAAT website ©

Yemen Crisis Appeal, from Christian Aid

From Christian Aid:

Two years of conflict have pushed Yemen, already one of the world’s poorest countries, to breaking point. Half of the population – 14 million people – is going hungry and needs help before it’s too late. A child is dying every 10 minutes because of preventable diseases and child malnutrition is at an all-time high …

Yemen Crisis Appeal

Photo from the Christian Aid website ©

Demand freedom and justice for Venezuelans illegally detained, from Amnesty International

From Amnesty International:

The situation in Venezuela continues to deteriorate and human rights are at imminent risk. In the early hours of August 1, 2017, videos surfaced showing the Venezuelan intelligence service (SEBIN) arresting two activists and forcefully carrying them out of their homes, where they were serving sentences under house arrest …

#SilencedByForce: Demand freedom and justice for Venezuelans illegally detained

Amnesty: Take action now

Sanctuary and Light: the Iona Community’s Capital Appeal

Generations of people have been touched by the varied and vital work of the Iona Community – work we want to ensure continues to be a reality and not history. This is especially true of our presence in the Abbey on Iona.

As a proactive and forward-thinking organisation, we have been evaluating and reassessing what we offer to our guests and staff. Wide consultation and guest feedback have identified key issues about the building’s accessibility, flexibility and sustainability. These must be addressed in the next five years if the Abbey is to remain fit for purpose.

In partnership with Historic Environment Scotland, we will ensure that active use of this iconic building, for its original purpose, is safeguarded for the future …

The Iona Community’s Capital Appeal

A journey and a homecoming: an Iona story, by new member Susan Lindsay

My journey with Iona started in a hospital ward in 2012.

I had a kidney infection, resulting in kidney failure, and a frightening two weeks. By this point I was suffering from insomnia and would scare the geriatric patients through wandering into their ward. I paced the corridors like a caged lion. One night, unable to sleep, I became aware of God’s presence beside me. This time there was a very clear voice in my ear; it was the words ‘go to Iona’.

When I eventually got out of hospital I knew it was only a matter of time before I would make the trip to Iona – a place I had never been before. I was 29, and had a long road ahead of me.

In the 13 months before going, I set my sights on regaining my health. I ran an average of 13 miles a week and cycled about 20. In the winter of 2012, I climbed Ben Nevis; and by January 2013 I had applied to and been accepted by the Iona Community to be a volunteer cook in the MacLeod Centre kitchen.

Working in the Mac kitchen changed my life! I was able to be creative, gain in confidence and make new friends. A new family in fact. We worked and talked about issues that I deeply connected with. The services in the Abbey channelled through me the love of God I had always felt. Being able to express these beliefs as well as the core message of peace and justice felt like a real homecoming. These creative, inclusive, inspirational services in the Abbey have given me energy and motivation even in the darkest moments.

Shortly before my three months as a volunteer was coming to an end, I was asked if I would like to apply for the position of Head Housekeeper in the Abbey. I jumped at the chance, and that is what I did for over a year. I fell in love with the island and the Iona Community; and before I left I got baptised in the Sound and confirmed in Bishop’s House, the Episcopal retreat centre.

Also before I left, I was asked by Peter Macdonald, then leader of the Iona Community, if I would like to join the New members programme. I was already an associate. After thinking about this for the next year, I joined the New members programme in 2015.

For my new member’s project I worked at raising money and awareness for the cause of justice and peace in Israel/Palestine. This decision led me to travel to Palestine with Amos Trust to take part in the Bethlehem Half Marathon. I have memories of running past Israeli soldiers holding their guns loosely beside the Palestinian volunteers who handed me water and dates. Just as I reached the finish line, tear gas exploded behind me. I munched down on the banana being thrust into my face.

Having the opportunity to see first hand the conditions at the checkpoints and speaking to both Israeli soldiers and Palestinian civilians is an experience I will hold close to my heart forever. As I walked around a checkpoint one day I silently prayed the Iona affirmation:

With the whole church,
I affirm that we are made in God’s image,
befriended by Christ,
empowered by the Spirit.

With people everywhere,
I affirm God’s goodness at the heart of humanity,
planted more deeply than all that is wrong.

With all creation, I celebrate the miracle and wonder of life,
the unfolding purposes of God
forever at work in ourselves and the world.

And as I prayed, my anger and love merged, until it felt like a true energy inside me that I could draw on to help create change.

Since my visit, my hometown has helped me to host a group of young Palestinians from the Alrowwad Cultural Association/Aida Refugee Camp. It was lovely to meet them in Bethlehem – and very special to have them in Scotland.

My Iona story now comes to the time when I am just about to go the island to be hallowed as a new member of the Iona Community, following the two-year programme.

Much has happened since getting on that bus on Mull in the spring of 2013. I will be going to the hallowing ceremony with a full heart and lots of memories. I am very grateful. Long may the Iona Community prosper.

– Susan Lindsay, from Iona of My Heart, an upcoming book in support of the Iona Community’s Capital Appeal, Neil Paynter (Ed.), Wild Goose Publications 2017

Iona heart © David Coleman

Food for the soul

Some soul food from a couple great hearts and minds …

‘Being the beloved’, by Henri Nouwen, from YouTube

‘Nonviolence for the violent’, by Water Wink, from YouTube


 ‘Ode to social housing’, by Manchester poet Tony Walsh, from Channel 4

Worship and liturgy

‘A Passion play’, by Murphy Davis of the Open Door Community, USA, from YouTube


‘World turned upside down’, by Leon Rosselson and Dick Gaughan, from YouTube

In anticipation of the upcoming ‘Heaven Shall Not Wait: Poetry, Song and Protest’ week on Iona in September– a classic by Leon Rosselson, interpreted by the great Scottish folksinger Dick Gaughan. (Billy Bragg does a powerful version of this too.)


Community Week prayers, from member Runa Mackay

Some Community Week prayers here from member Runa Mackay, from an afternoon service of ‘Prayers for the world and its people’ she led during August Community Week on Iona. The prayers are from Sabeel, the Palestine Liberation Theology Centre in Jerusalem; Sabeel shares prayers every week online at Sabeel UK.

About Community Week Runa says: ‘I am very grateful I was enabled to be at this year’s Community Week. The diversity of the Community was well-represented with old and new members and the older and the younger … It was good to hear of the developing cooperation with the island and Historic Scotland. The Community faces many challenges in the future but I believe we are ready to tackle the difficulties ahead. I am proud to be a member and rejoice that the Community is ready to go ‘forward in faith’ with its new leader, Michael Marten.’ (Ed.)

Prayers from Sabeel

Lord, we thank You for the successes that have come from the non-violent protests in Jerusalem and for the unified stand Muslims and Christians take against the Occupation in general and in East Jerusalem in particular. We pray that the non-violent protests will continue and that Israel will end its control over East Jerusalem and all of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Lord, in Your mercy …

Lord, we pray for the people of Gaza, who are suffering from lack of water, electricity and medical supplies. Give them hope for a better life for themselves, their children and their communities and an end to their suffering. We pray that the blockade will be broken and the people of Gaza will not be forsaken.

Lord, in Your mercy …

Across Palestine and Israel children are going to summer camps which provide them with activities while school is out for the summer. Lord, we thank You for the programmes which provide opportunities for children to have fun this summer and live a normal life even under Occupation. We pray for the organisers and volunteers who are working tirelessly to make this possible.

Lord, in Your mercy …

In spite of the difficulties under which Palestinians have to live they pray for others who endure the same and even worse situations, so we pray for the starving and constantly bombed people of Yemen and the starving people in Somalia.

Lord, in Your mercy …

– Prayers from Sabeel

Runa is a member of Women in Black Edinburgh and worked as a doctor in Israel/Palestine for 40 years.

Photo © Michael Marten

Bread for the road

A God of justice and mercy, by member Runa Mackay

Dr Salah suddenly asked me one day, ‘Do you believe in God?’ I replied, ‘Yes, I could never have done what I have been able to do if I had not had a firm faith in God, and it is my faith that keeps me going even though things do look bleak.’ He said that he, too, had only been able to survive throughout the years of the civil war in Lebanon and to participate in the struggles of his people because he believed in God. He is a Muslim; I am a Christian: we both have our different beliefs and ways of worshipping God, but we both believe in a God of justice and mercy.

– Runa Mackay, from Exile in Israel: A Personal Journey with the Palestinians, Wild Goose Publications

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