Sanctuary and light: the Iona Community’s Capital Appeal

‘It wouldn’t be the same without them’: an Iona story, by member Jean Young

The Abbey was to have two groups in it: pupils from Govan High, and member Fred Booth’s adult group from Dumbarton Presbytery and his congregation in Helensburgh. For months beforehand, Fred wound me up about the mix. Abbey Warden Ian Galloway had said we would be in Abbot’s House, which would at least give us a space where we wouldn’t disturb the others too much.

When we arrived we were instead strung out along the east range – with a Charismatic chiropodist and his wife at one end, and an 84-year-old couple at the other. Both groups wanted to go home, but at that time there were fortunately no boats on Sunday!

It turned out that it was the first time that the young folk were with adults who had no responsibility for them, and the adults were with young folk who they were not looking after. Both groups really got to know each other as individuals and the week produced some amazing moments. The prayers led by the young folk at the Friday night communion were among the most heartfelt I have ever heard. When Fred’s group had their reunion, they insisted I brought the Govan High pupils along because ‘it wouldn’t be the same without them’. For years, individuals from both groups kept in touch.

Jean Young, a member of the Iona Community and long-time youth worker, from the upcoming book, Iona of My Heart, Neil Paynter (Ed.), Wild Goose Publications

Royalties from Iona of My Heart will go to Sanctuary and light: the Iona Community’s Capital Appeal

Sanctuary and light: the Iona Community’s Capital Appeal

Iona heart © David Coleman

Iona stories

Do you have an Iona story? …

If so, please send it to [email protected] to share in e-Coracle/Coracle. Thank you.

‘Iona friends’ © Martin Johnstone, used with permission

Iona, Camas and Glasgow

Youth work update, from Youth Resource Worker, Chris Long

IGLOW, the Iona Community’s group for young people based in Glasgow, continues every Thursday night at the Community’s Glasgow base; and on the 7th of October youth folk had a final Youth Art outing at the Hall in Priesthill …

Iona Community youth work

IGLOW photo © Iona Youth Department, used with permission

‘Ring the anchor’: a rap from Camas, by MC Ab McFab & Beat Master Beets

 A rap on the daily life of Camas, composed during Camas Gardening Week – brought to you by the hip-hop stylings of the one and only MC Ab McFab …

Camas is the Iona Community’s Adventure centre on the Isle of Mull.


The Camas Diary

Listening to fragility: a week at Iona Abbey

Some beautiful, creative images from the recent ‘Listening to fragility’ week on Iona, led by Iona Programme worker, theologian and artist Dr Urzula Glienecke and musician Isobel Jenkins:

At this table everybody belongs

Exhibition at Iona Abbey

Listening to fragility:

‘During this week we will listen to the fragility of the environment and the world we live in. We will listen to, experience and embrace our own inner fragility and vulnerability in a slow-paced and mind-stimulating setting. Sculptures and other art will be used by the participants to help to reveal a ‘you’ which is a perfect imperfection; someone who is truly loved by God’ (from the 2017 Islands Programme).

Photo of Urzula Glienecke ©

New from Wild Goose Publications: From Darkness to Eastering, by Bonnie B Thurston

This is a book about how, on a cosmic and a personal level, darkness gives way to light. It does not sugar-coat the reality of darkness but is full of hope, reminding voyagers that ‘light shines in the darkness’, that darkness is required to perceive light – and that Easter means the light has come, life triumphs, and the promised Holy Spirit will empower us for growth: ‘eastering’ …

These reflective, prayerful poems are ‘a ticket and passport for a spiritual journey’ and can be used in a daily discipline or with groups.

‘For each traveller I pray journeying mercies,’ Bonnie Thurston writes. ‘And I remind pilgrims: Take heart. He will come.’

Having resigned a professorship and chair in New Testament studies, Bonnie Thurston now lives quietly as a solitary near Wheeling, West Virginia, USA, working as a spiritual director and retreat leader and volunteering in a food bank. She is the author of over 20 books.

‘You are in skilled hands here, so let yourself be carried along, ready to experience delight, or be jarred into discomfort. Above all ponder, weigh, take time. For each poem comes out of the quiet depths of a person who is a fellow pilgrim, illuminating the familiar with her own God-given insight.’ (Esther de Waal)

From Darkness to Eastering, by Bonnie B Thurston


Three streams meeting at the Ground, the Iona Community’s base in Glasgow, from Graham Maule, Wild Goose Resource Group

It was a Danish invasion of a somewhat different kind than historic predecents …

The time: mid September 2017. The location: Glasgow, and more specifically, the Ground – the event space in the Iona Community’s Glasgow base.

And the occasion: weeWONDERBOX was hosting its first large event of the 2017-18 season, ’Where Three Streams Meet’, a two and a half day conference on liturgy.

The nations of Denmark and Scotland contributed one-third and two-thirds of the participants respectively, with the ‘three streams’ referred to in the title being the three predominant denominational traditions which were engaged over the days: in the case of the Danes, the Lutheran tradition – and in the case of the Scots, the Presbyterian and Episcopalian (though other denominational traditions were available and included too).

The idea for the conference came from Tine Ilum, a pastor and worship worker of the Liturgy Alive/Værkstedet Gudstjeneste LIV project in the Haderslev Diocese. It was also she who organised and informally led the Danish group visit – promising to be more peaceful and better behaved than their Viking predecessors.

The days were led by John, Jo and Graham of the Wild Goose Resource Group (with a Monday contribution from Kelvin Holdsworth of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral) and ranged over approaches to baptism, song and music in church, ways of opening and using the Bible with groups and congregations.

On the Monday evening, we were treated to a presentation on the increasingly popular phenomenon in Denmark of singing to babies, by Janne Mark, a talented church musician (and new hymnwriter to keep an eye on!). This is a growing practice as programmes spread throughout the country.

But unlike in Scotland – where similar work tends to be found largely in secular settings (libraries and ad hoc groups) – in Denmark, it’s the churches which are blazing the way with these 10-week long singing series, which involve both babies and their parents in a ritual-like patterning.

Treating us just like the children (and their parents), Janne took us through a typical session, emphasising and explaining what was going on, where necessary.

Janne followed this fascinating insight with an exqually fascinating and spellbinding selection of some of her own fine songs.

On the Tuesday evening it was the turn of the Scots to determine the shape the evening as we all shared a ceilidh. However, as in all good ceilidhs, everyone took a turn in a fine time of song, story and liquid/spiritual refreshment.

At midday on Wednesday it was time to close. After fond farewells, the invaders departed and the locals went home.

We look forward to future invasions.

– Graham Maule

weeWONDERBOX 2017-2018 gatherings and events

Three Steams photo ©

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

weeWONDERBOX is a series of 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 2017-18 programme

Photo © Iona Community Programme team/WGRG

Urban pilgimages in 2018, from the Wild Goose Resource Group/weeWONDERBOX

A Saturday morning pilgrimage?

This is not round Iona, or Cuthbert’s Way or the Camino, but a focused stroll around Glasgow. The Wild Goose Resource Group are enabling a series of these on the third Saturday of each month, from February to April 2018. Each morning will focus on a different aspect of life and faith in the city, but the events are not only for locals.

The first pilgrimage, on 17th February, will be led by Iona Community member Iain Whyte, whose book on Scotland and the slave trade (Edinburgh University Press) undid any notions that slavery was an England-only enterprise. Kathy Galloway will lead on 17th March, and Graham Maule on 21st April.

Meet at the Iona Community office at 21 Carlton Court at 10.00am, to finish around 13.00 with optional lunch in nearby eateries.

For more details

Iona Community Glasgow base photo ©

New liturgies for healing from the Iona Prayer Circle and Wild Goose Publications

A series of nine short liturgies for small-group or individual prayer on themes that come up regularly in the Iona Prayer Circle, a worldwide network that prays for people and places in distress:

A short liturgy of thanksgiving

A short liturgy for a sick child

A short liturgy for a troubled family situation

Six more liturgies to follow …


Members, associates and friends

Coulport protesters admonished, from Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (SCND)

From SCND:

Remember our long-standing protesters [Iona Community member] Brian Quail and Angie Zelter arrested and held for protesting against Trident? In case you were wondering – the Justice of the Peace Court found them guilty on October 12th, but was content with admonishing them, the lightest penalty that a Scottish court can impose. Please don’t let these people take on the Trident Giant all by themselves. Join the anti-nuclear weapons movement now!


Photo from SCND ©

Ian M Fraser’s 100th birthday celebration!, Saturday 25th November 2017, in Alva, Scotland, from member Isabel Sarle

Ian M Fraser’s 100th birthday celebration: Saturday 25th November, 12-2pm, Alva Parish Church hall, Stirling Street, Alva, FK12 5EH

We would like to extend the invitation to Members as well as those associated with the Community, such as family of Members, Associates and Friends. It would be much appreciated if you could reply by Nov 8th, to [email protected]

About member Ian M Fraser:

Ian M Fraser 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, and Reinventing Theology as the People’s Work (Wild Goose Publications), 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.

Photo of Ian M Fraser by David Coleman

Iona Continentals meeting in Salzburg, Austria

A lovely group shot below of folk at the recent Iona Continentals gathering in Salzburg. A report on the meeting to follow in the upcoming autumn Coracle.

Together we are strong (a prayer)

I am close to you all.
I heard the call to go forward on the path of justice.
My influence is only small –
together we are strong.
Jesus, our friend and brother,
has shown us the way:
to keep our eyes open to discover signs of hope,
and to name situations of death and despair.

You, our God, called us to come to your house of prayer
and to share our sorrows and longings.
You will help us to find means to change situations –

to open our borders to refugees and asylum seekers
and to share our bread and rice with hungry people,
our sisters and brothers.
God of peace and justice,
send your peace to our world –
we need it!

God, we thank you for the Iona Community,
where we are connected through prayer and action.
God bless us today
and on our walk together.

Elisabeth Christa Miescher, Swiss Iona Group, from In the Gift of This New Day: Praying with the Iona Community, Neil Paynter (Ed.), Wild Goose Publications

Iona Continentals in Salzburg, photo ©

Citizens’ apology for the Balfour Declaration, Thursday 2nd November, 11am, outside the Scottish Parliament, from member Allan Gordon

Dear all,

Member Eurig Scandrett, Peter Macdonald (former Leader of the Iona Community) and I have been organising a citizens’ apology for the Balfour Declaration to take place outside the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, 2nd November (exactly 100 years since Balfour sent his infamous letter to Lord Rothschild) at 11am. I very much hope you will be able to join us – it would be good to have at least 100 people present, everyone carrying a placard they have made themselves at home. The wording on the placards we leave to you.


11am: Eurig has organised a group from Palestine to lead community singing until 11.30am.

11.30am: Address by Sandra White MSP (Chair of the Scottish Parliamentary Cross Party Group on Israel/Palestine) and two other MSPs. To be followed by Khaled Khahil, Issam Hijjawi and Hala, who will speak for Palestinian women.

Noon: A minute’s silence, during which we hope all placards will be lowered. The silence will be broken by a piper playing a lament, and at the end of the lament we hope there will be vigorous placard-waving. Peter will address us all following this, and then everyone is free to disperse.

– Allan Gordon

Photo © Mahmoud Alkurd, Network of Photographers for Palestine

Consequences: The Trial of Arthur James Balfour, Warren R. Bardsley, Church in the Market Place Publications, 2017

From Church in the Marketplace Publications:

In November 1917, as the First World War entered its fourth year and thousands of British, Allied and German soldiers were perishing in the mud of Passchendaele, the outcome of that terrible conflict hung in the balance. At that moment, Sir Arthur Balfour signed the famous Declaration on behalf of the War Cabinet. It committed the British Government to facilitate the establishment of ‘a national home for the Jewish people’, thus beginning a process which led to the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and the slow, relentless dispossession of the indigenous people of the land, the Arab Palestinians, comprising (in 1917) 90% of the population, whose nationalist aspirations were brushed aside. In this centenary year, the author traces a course of events which led to the 67-word document and the consequences which flowed from it; the seeds of a conflict described by Oxford historian Elizabeth Monroe as ‘one of the greatest mistakes in our imperial history’.

The second half of the book is presented in the form of a drama which can be adapted by groups as a play.

Warren Bardsley is a retired Methodist minister living in Lichfield, who has served in East Jerusalem with the WCC Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine/Israel and has returned regularly since then. He is a founder member of the Kairos Britain movement and is a member of the Iona Community.

Profits from this book will go to Medical Aid for Palestinians

To order: [email protected]


A tribute to member Larry Nugent

Long-time member of the Iona Community Larry Nugent died on September 7, 2017. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. A full tribute to Larry will appear in a future Coracle.

‘Christian beliefs and values do not stem from social utopian thinking … they are practical. Faith, hope and charity are their working tools in situations where many feel that a rich society, living on tax cuts, has negated the moral responsibilities that would alleviate the growing deprivation of the poor.’

– Larry Nugent, from This Is the Day (Wild Goose)

‘I heard this blessing in the Royston Rainbow Club. It was Christmastime and a homeless person was receiving a welcomed dinner. It was straight from the heart and has stayed with me for over 30 years:

Ach, God bless yih, in the name of Mary, Joseph and ra wee man.’

– Larry Nugent, from Growing Hope (Wild Goose)

Photo of Larry Nugent from member Chris Polhill ©

Meet the member: associate John McCall in Taiwan

News from John McCall, who has been an associate of the Iona Community since 1984, and has lived in Taiwan for 20 years, teaching at seminaries there and in China, and working with church leaders. (Ed.)

Dear Friends,

Yesterday I took the bullet train for a short half hour ride from Taipei to a new city near the Taiwan Science Park. This area is Taiwan’s Silicon Valley. Most of Taiwan’s cutting-edge, high-tech industry is located in this area. What used to be all rice fields is now many upscale high-rise condominiums. While Taiwan’s birthrate is dropping, this area has the highest birthrate in all of Taiwan. Many of the young engineers and software folk who work and live in this area are having children.

Thirteen years ago the Presbyterian Church decided to start a new church development in this neighbourhood. The founding pastor is a man who is full of joy and shares life with his church members. I shared dinner with the pastor and several church members the other night. This church is full of first-generation Christians who have come to know Christ’s love through this congregation.

I was asked to preach a Saturday night renewal service as well as a Sunday morning service. Sunday afternoon I did a training for the Presbytery pastors, elders and deacons.

I was impressed with the openness of the church members, as well as their joy. It was encouraging to see their outreach to all these young engineers and their families. Their lives could just be full of work and paying off loans, but instead they have been invited to share in the fullness of life which Christ offers to them.

As I headed back on the bullet train to Taipei on Sunday evening, I gave thanks for the ministry of Pastor Peng and this church. It is thrilling to see how God is using them to reach this demographic.

May you have joy in this coming week.

– John McCall in Taiwan


John McCall with aboriginal seminary students, photo ©


Rohingya Crisis Appeal: please help vulnerable Rohingya people who desperately need food, water and shelter, Christian Aid

From Christian Aid:

Escalating violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in late August 2017 has forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, including many Rohingya Muslims who have fled to Bangladesh, fearing for their lives.
As of 19 September, more than 400,000 people had crossed the border into Bangladesh and unknown numbers remain displaced in Myanmar. As villages in Myanmar continue to be destroyed, figures are expected to rise, with up to 15,000 people crossing the border each day.

Those fleeing to the border have walked for miles, and for days on end. They have no money for food or shelter. Many mothers are escaping with newborn babies. With limited medical facilities, people are sick and at risk of serious disease.

Rohingya Crisis Appeal

Photo from the Christian Aid website ©

UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons adopted/International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) wins 2017 Nobel Peace Prize

From ICAN:

‘It is a great honour to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 in recognition of our role in achieving the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This historic agreement, adopted on 7 July with the backing of 122 nations, offers a powerful, much-needed alternative to a world in which threats of mass destruction are allowed to prevail and, indeed, are escalating.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a coalition of non-governmental organisations in one hundred countries. By harnessing the power of the people, we have worked to bring an end to the most destructive weapon ever created – the only weapon that poses an existential threat to all humanity …’


Photo, from ICAN website ©

Right to Remain

From Right to Remain:

Right to Remain is a UK-based human rights organisation. We work with communities, groups and organisations across the UK, providing information, resources, training and assistance to help people to establish their right to remain, and to challenge injustice in the immigration and asylum system.

UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, October 17th

Church Action on Poverty (CAP)

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 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.

The Poverty Alliance

Homeless Sunday 2018, from Housing Justice and Scottish Churches Housing Action

From Housing Justice and Scottish Churches Housing Action:

Each year Housing Justice and Scottish Churches Housing Action join in organising Homeless Sunday. 2018’s event will take place on Sunday 28th January.

Homeless Sunday is a chance for Churches and Christian groups from across the country to join together to pray, reflect and plan practical action on homelessness, but also for a united Christian voice to offer solidarity and be a prophetic voice for change.

The Iona Community is part of Scottish Churches Housing Action.

Homeless Sunday 2018 information and resources


A prayer of thanks for a cornershop, by member Tom Gordon

You’re not even on the corner.
You’re under the tenements, opposite the church,
between the scruffy blue door of number 19
and the Bookies at 23.
But you’re there, available, open when I need you.
I give thanks for you, cornershop.

You always seem to have what I need.
Your delicious samosas, my comfort food;
disposable nappies when I’m the designated shopper;
the bread, and milk, and rolls, and toilet paper.
No point in asking, ‘How much?’
You’re my friend, cornershop.

Your two custodians are delightful.
I don’t know their names – and they’ve never asked mine –
but we always greet each other like long-lost friends.
It’s what regulars do, in a cornershop.
Customer-care comes naturally. I like that.
I smile when I enter you, cornershop.

You were open on Christmas Day.
I needed you then – when everything else was closed.
It was for chipolata sausages, the ones I forgot.
And you had some, thank God,
in the cool-cabinet – my festive rescue-remedy.
You’ve been my saviour, cornershop.

You don’t ask where I’ve come from or am rushing to.
You’re just the same, when I’m irritable, grumpy, or happy.
You welcome me, as I am, in all my searching.
I admire you, cornershop.

You’re the most inclusive place I know,
open, welcoming, friendly, non-judgemental …
The church across the road could learn from you.
Keep showing what matters, just as you’ve always done.
We’ve got a lot to admire you for.
Good stuff, cornershop.

I hope you’re going to stay around for a while.
Don’t worry about Tesco Metros and Sainsbury’s Locals.
I pray to God you’ll still be here,
like a blue door, and a bookies, and a church.
I’ll never take you for granted.
Because I love you – cornershop.

Tom Gordon, from We Bring You Everything, and Tip It Out In Front of You: New Prayers from the Iona Community, Neil Paynter (Ed.), Wild Goose Publications

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