Iona Abbey Capital Appeal news

Miracle in May – help make a miracle happen!

As a preliminary to phase two of the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal, we have just announced a May target of £300,000 – which combined with another very significant contribution we are hopeful of securing in the near future could enable us to complete the work at the Abbey a year earlier, enable additional guests to experience Iona, and take the transforming work of the Community out into the world. Time is short, but the opportunity is great! Donate at and help get the word out at meetings, on social media and among your friends and contacts. Watch the Iona Community’s Facebook page for more information. Contact: [email protected]  Thank you!

2019 Iona calendar, from the Highland Family Group

The Highland Family Group, with photographer Iain Sarjeant, has produced a gorgeous 2019 Iona calendar. Size: 21cm x 21cm. Price: £7.95 including VAT, £6.62 ex VAT. All profits from the sale of the calendar will go to the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal.

About the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal, Duncan Finlayson of the Highland Family Group says:

‘The renovation work being undertaken in the Abbey is a sign of hope. On the 22nd day of each month the Iona Community prays for its commitment to hospitality. This extends from the domestic situation to the global concerns involving displaced people everywhere, but it also includes the hospitality we offer to the guests who come to our Centres. So the refurbishment in the Abbey should be seen in the context of that commitment, ensuring that we can provide our guests comfortable and accessible hospitality into the foreseeable future.’

To purchase the 2019 Iona calendar

‘Friends for life’: what the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal means to young people

Katie, 19: I am supporting the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal because Iona has had a huge impact on my life. There is not a better feeling than stepping off that small ferry onto the jetty, smelling the Iona air and knowing I’m home. The Capital Appeal, for me, is ensuring that Iona remains my second home while giving others the same opportunity to spend a week visiting the island, getting to know new people and getting involved in the community. Being involved in Iona for 18 years has allowed me to make friends for life. It has also paved a way for my faith to grow. The environment and community that Iona offers are so homely and welcoming.

Laura, 21: Staying at the Abbey is experiencing a spiritual community incomparable to anything else. The Iona Community is very dear to my heart. It has enabled me to grow safely in a family much larger than my immediate blood relatives. This is why I am part of the new Iona Youth Community. I am part of the growing community – which feels simply wonderful, and I feel more included than ever before. Supporting the Capital Appeal will ensure that the Abbey remains accessible to families, and will give countless more young people the chance to experience the opportunities I’ve had since my first visit when I was 4 years old.

Maeve, 18: I have been visiting Iona since I was 6 months old and it has a very special place in my heart – so many amazing memories have been made on the island and in particular in the Abbey at Community Weeks or Youth Festival. The Capital Appeal will make the Abbey much more accessible to so many new people, which is really exciting as it will allow all these people to experience the magic and beauty it has to offer. To help with the Capital Appeal we are having a mountain café for walkers in the Lake District, which we hope will raise funds and awareness for this cause – as well as being a great day out on the hills.

Freya, 16: This is a very important Appeal for the Iona Youth Community because having the Abbey accommodation fully renovated would give us the opportunity to go to Youth Fest, where we can meet many people from different backgrounds as well as learning the values that the Iona Community has taught us over the years.

Iona Youth Festival photo © Iona Community Youth Department. Used with permission

‘To keep the flame alive’: what Iona Community members are doing to help support the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal

Teun Kruijswijk Jansen, Dutch Iona Group: I’ve produced a slide show on the history and work of the Iona Community which ends with a call to support the Capital Appeal. In May 1997, the Community helped me to find new ground. It brought back my joy and laughter. In these Brexit years it’s very important to know together that the world belongs to God and not to the political powers or stock markets. We are connected, and for me the Community (Iona Abbey and the MacLeod Centre, Scotland and the Continent) embodies that especially.

South West Peninsula Family Group (FG), from Tim Gorringe: We had a safari supper to raise funds for the Capital Appeal. Like all members we believe our survival needs centres of spiritual discontent which challenge the claims of money to be the meaning of the world. Iona is not the only such centre, but it is one of them, and it is our job to keep the light burning in what seeks to be an enveloping darkness.

Glasgow West End Family Group, from Brett Nicholls: Our FG held a ‘Swish party’ as our fundraising effort. I appreciate the Community’s honest and whole of life approach to faith and spirituality; its emphasis on seeking to make God’s world a better and fairer place now through justice, social action and campaign work. The faith tradition I was brought up in did not emphasise this. I’m therefore very happy to help raise funds so that the Abbey accommodation can be made fit for occupation by future generations.

Glasgow North Family Group, from Alison May: We will be sending out a cryptic quiz competition on the Scottish islands for members to print and sell at £1 a copy. Malcolm and I started our married life in a flat in Community House 50 years ago this year. Malcolm was Deputy Warden and later Warden, and we spent several weeks every summer on Iona. The Community and the Abbey have played a big part in our lives ever since and influenced the jobs we went on to do. Iona is a beacon of hope and sanity in an increasingly mad and dangerous world. We need to keep the flame alive.

Colin Douglas, North West Edinburgh Family Group: I am planning a sponsored swim of the Sound of Iona for the Appeal and in celebration of my 76th birthday. I have been swimming with a group triathletes and took part in the one-mile leg of the Great Scottish Swim. As a Kirk minister I have always seen the Iona Community as a welcome counter to belonging to a conservative institution like the Kirk. The Iona Community encourages me in my attempts to proclaim and embody the principles of the social gospel.

East Lothian Family Group, from Tom Gordon: We are planning a musical evening, a fine dining night, and a quiz night. Common purpose – around worship, justice and peace and the integrity of creation – requires common actions. These actions are ‘outward’, to change the world for the better, but they are also ‘inward’, to make sure the Community is fit for purpose. One part of that ‘fit for purpose’ issue is what we offer people by way of hospitality in the Abbey buildings. The Iona Community has, for me, over 44 years of membership, sought to hold the ‘inward’ and ‘outward’ journeys in balance. Long may it continue to do so.

West Midlands Family Group, from Chris and John Polhill: We’re writing to people who have been members of groups that they have taken for weeks on Iona. For most of us, finding the Iona Community was a kind of spiritual homecoming, and the Abbey a physical symbol of that. The experience of staying at the Abbey needs to meet an acceptable degree of comfort and accessibility so that more people can be welcomed into that ‘home’.

Bristol Family Group, from Richard Sharples: Last year, whilst still in the Wales and Marches FG, we organised an event for members and friends: we worshipped, ate together, shared news and – in what was the most dynamic session – each FG member was given two minutes to say how they lived the Rule and what it meant to them. We’re going to use the same presentation technique for an event in Bristol on Columba’s Day. Both FGs felt that what people want to hear and see is the flesh and blood and spirit of the Community, although information about the Appeal was and will be available.

Swiss Iona Group, from Reinhild Traitler and Daniel Meier: The Swiss Iona group is: 1. Selling ‘Bricks for Iona’ to the readership of the Boldern texts, a monthly book of meditations. 2. Conducting a fundraising drive with congregational funds for ecumenical projects, and with the special cantonal church offices for ‘Ecumenism, Mission and Development’. We make clear the relevance of Iona for Christians on the Continent. We present Iona as a kind of ‘world religious heritage’ site and movement furthering understanding between people from all parts of Europe and beyond.

Fife Family Group, from Isabel Whyte: We’re having a fundraising lunch in Torbain Church, Kirkcaldy. Why is the Appeal important to us? Personally speaking, Iain and I owe our fifty years together of shared adventures, fun, devotion and deep love to the bond we formed on Iona, leading a youth camp in the village in 1965.

Argyll Family Group, from Margaret Jacobsen: In our small FG group we have clocked up over 220 years of links with Iona and the Community. Years in which we have got to know the island and its people and have drunk deeply of the well of life and love that is held on the island on our behalf. We have climbed Dun I and revelled in the views and the clarity of vision offered. And of course Iona is often where we meet our Community family. It is a very special place and is our island home and centre of much of our lives as members. Members of our FG are each forgoing a coffee and scone before meetings and putting the money into a pot for the Appeal.

There’s lots more happening – news to follow in Coracle and e-Coracle. (Ed.)

The hug © David Coleman

St Columba’s Day celebrations 2018, from Coordinator of the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal, Christine Jones

Members, associates and friends of the Iona Community will be getting together within their local networks over the weekend of 9th and 10th June to celebrate St Columba’s Day. There will be Columba Day worship resources available to download from the Iona Community’s website and Gift Aid envelopes will also be available for retiring collections in support of the Appeal. Thank you.

For more information:

[email protected]

Photo of Saint Columba window, Iona Abbey © David Coleman

Iona, Camas and Glasgow

The Iona Community’s Annual Report for 2017


ColumbaFest: A seasonal celebration of faith, culture, politics and creativity, 8th-10th June 2018, Glasgow, from weeWONDERBOX

weeWONDERBOX’s flagship urban festival, ColumbaFest, returns to Glasgow city centre on 8th-10th June, 2018. Our theme: ‘Dreams & Visions’ … on what makes ‘prophecy’ today.

Expect live music and spoken word, workshops, walks, talks and worship led by a fantastically diverse group of contributors, including Pádraig Ó Tuama, Ian Bradley, Alyson Hallet and John L. Bell. More to be confirmed soon.

Prophets often come from the margins, challenging our complacent worldview with a startling new perspective. We will be asking – where are the prophets today? What are they saying? And are we listening to them?

We will draw inspiration from the life of St Columba, the biblical prophets and contemporary politics to challenge ourselves to engage with the most pressing issues of social justice in our society.

Come for a day, an evening, or for the entire weekend.



Women at the Well: Remembering the Bible with women, by Janet Lees – a recent Wild Goose Publications download

A collection of stories based on the author’s ‘remembered Bible’ technique, which adds unexpected layers and aspects to the accounts. It is for both remembering women in the Bible and remembering the Bible with women (and men).

Janet writes, ‘To remember Jesus is the very heart of remembering the gospel. We remember Jesus when we tell stories about him, when we share bread and wine in his name and when our actions are directed by what we remember of him.’

There are various ways of using the stories and prayers and some ideas for discussion or reflection are included.

Janet Lees is a URC minister and a speech therapist, and has been Chaplain at Silcoates School in Wakefield since 2010. Her two books, Word of Mouth: Using the Remembered Bible for Building Community and Tell Me the Stories of Jesus: A Companion to the Remembered Bible, as well as several shorter digital downloads, are published by Wild Goose.

Women at the Well

More Wild Goose e-liturgies and prayers

Camas Open Weeks in 2018

7-12 May: Garden Week – A week at Camas getting your hands in the soil! Spend time in the Camas garden helping us set up for the season to come. A mixture of work, rest and play with garden tasks, walks to beaches, trip to Iona, kayaking and lots of tea and cake to keep you going! Suitable for all ages and abilities. (£250)

8-13 October: Garden Week – A week at Camas getting your hands in the soil! Spend time in the Camas garden helping put the gardens to bed for winter. A mixture of work, rest and play with garden tasks, walks to beaches, trip to Iona, kayaking and lots of tea and cake to keep you going! Suitable for all ages and abilities. (£250)

15-20 October: Work Week – Come and help us get Camas tidied away for the winter season. With a variety of jobs from painting to sewing and mending there is a job for all ages and abilities. The week is mixed with plenty of free time to explore the local area and beautiful beaches. (£200)

For enquiries and booking information, please contact Carol at: [email protected] 


‘Fresh harvest’ © Rachel Daniels (a former Camas volunteer)

Never give up: an update from Iona Centre Manager, Heinz Toller

In the middle of a major building project in a medieval Abbey, two islands out, during the coldest weather in a generation, worship goes on – and the Resurrection is celebrated.

Heinz says: ‘This was all amazingly survivable and in some ways fun – it brought us closer together. And the electricity is back on – and it’s warm outside now!’

This update was written shortly after Easter. Thanks, Heinz, and thanks and love to everyone working on Iona. (Ed.)

I arrived on Iona, after 19 years in London, the day before the ‘Beast from the East’ snowstorm hit.

A little more than a week into my job we had an electrical fire in the bowels of the Abbey – a great way to meet the Iona firefighters at 1am on a Saturday morning; as a consequence the electrical supply was cut by more than 50%, which meant that there was no heating in the common areas, the cookers got hot but the fans were disabled, so everything burnt on the bottom, there was no hot water from the taps, and freezers were powered by long extension reels. To be honest, we didn’t really need them as everywhere the temperature mimicked that outside.

The motley crowd of members and resident staff put on extra layers and just got on with it, cleaning, tidying, carrying, cooking – at least, unlike the roofers and other building workers, we didn’t have to toil in the icy winds outside.

A couple of floods later in the Community Shop, things started to feel more normal – or perhaps we just got used to the chaos. We shared two meals a day with the workers, engaging in some good conversations and occasionally a beer in the pub – and perhaps got a little impression of what it might have been like when the Abbey was built in the 1930s.

Six weeks on, we are still waiting for the electricity to come back fully – but we have had a moving and challenging Holy Week with some of the Glasgow team, a number of members and volunteers, welcoming regularly as many as 60 worshippers in the Chapter House, the Relig Oran, on the road and in the Cloisters, and more than 160 on Easter Day in the Abbey for an uplifting and inspiring celebration of the Resurrection without artificial light and amplification. And of course spring has sprung … daffodils, lambs and birds returning to build their nests in the rafters of the Cloisters.

Soon, Phase 1 of the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal project will come to an end and the extended Welcome Centre put to good use.

Just now, we are catching our breath before we embark on the Refectory Project 2018, trying to engage with tourists by offering simple hospitality, some spiritual challenge and a sense of life as a pilgrimage; and we are very much looking forward to welcoming a good number of members and associates who are going to help us to do this, living and working in community – some for as long as eight weeks and others for a week or two at a time.

– Heinz Toller

‘Resurrection’, photo ©

Seasonal encounters with the Iona Community 2018, St Columba Hotel, Iona, from the Iona Community Programme team

2nd – 27th October
‘Following the Celtic Way’,
Professor Ian Bradley

27th October – 1st November
‘Enthusiasm, Entropy and Ecology: A New look at the Psalms’,
Rev. John Bell

1st – 6th November
‘Adventures with God: An Introduction to the Gifts and
Wisdom of Ignatius of Loyola’,
Rev. Alison Marshall

Venue: St Columba Hotel, Isle of Iona
Price: From £649 per person, per course, includes full board
and programme charge

Booking online or by phone:
t: 44 (0) 1681 700 304

Members, associates and friends

‘Now is the time to affirm life’: Prayer and action for peace in Syria, by member Kathy Galloway

This was written following the bombing of Syria by the US, UK and France on 14th April, 2018. (Ed.)

‘Now is the time to affirm life’, by Kathy Galloway

Syria vigil photo from Alison Swinfen ©

Nae Pasaran: the Scots who defied Pinochet, friend of the Iona Community Stuart Barrie

‘In a small Scottish town in 1974, factory workers refuse to carry out repairs on warplane engines in an act of solidarity against the violent military coup in Chile …’

This story has been documented in the film Nae Pasaran, which premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival in March this year. Friend of the Community, and frequent Wild Goose Publications contributor, Stuart Barrie was one of the factory workers who stood firm.

The official trailer of the film:

Conscientious Objectors Day Vigil, 15th May, 2018, Edinburgh

Scottish Christians Against Nuclear Arms (SCANA), Pentecost Peace Witness Vigil, Saturday 26th May 2018, 12 noon–1.00 pm, Faslane Royal Naval Base, Gareloch, from member John Harvey

A short annual peace vigil, led by the Iona Community’s Wild Goose Resource Group, to bear witness to peaceful alternatives to the violence of weapons of mass destruction – with a picnic to end (bring your own!). People of all faiths, or of none, are most welcome.

Things are coming together for this event. We now have a petition ready, to go to the Government, asking them to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The new Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland will be there to sign it, as will Bishop Nolan from the Catholic Church, the Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Bishop Mark Strange, and the Convenor of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, Richard Frazer. This represents a strong statement from the mainline Churches in Scotland, and we are working on getting as much publicity for the event as we can. Graham Maule and Jo Love are leading the whole event with a special liturgy written for the occasion, in the form of one of the Pauline epistles, with space for signing, and of course there will songs, prayers and readings as well.

For further information, please contact SCANA via [email protected]

 – John Harvey

Help to build a new Iona Village Hall

From the Iona Village Hall Trustees:

Iona Village Hall is at the very heart of life on this tiny, yet thriving island. The hall is a vital, shared space for islanders and visitors of all ages. It is our cinema, sports stadium, debating chamber, play area and gathering place. Although much-loved, at 90 years old the existing hall is no longer fit for purpose.

Our vision as Hall Trustees is to create a warm, welcoming, modern community hub; a place where islanders, seasonal workers and visitors alike can feel they belong.

In January 2018 we learned that we had been awarded just over £900,000 by The BIG Lottery Fund but we need to raise a further £1.2million by December 2018 to turn our plans for a new hall into reality. Thank you.

Iona Village Hall

How to donate

Ecu-action Canterbury, New Zealand: Acting together for justice, peace and the integrity of creation

This small ecumenical group, doing wonderful work in New Zealand, is now affiliated with the Iona Community. If you’d like to see what they’re working at or to get involved or network, please go to their Facebook page:


Tributes to member Ian M Fraser

Long-time member of the Iona Community Ian M Fraser died peacefully at home on Monday 9th April. We give great thanks for his life and witness and for his membership of the Iona Community.

Some tributes to Ian:

A tribute to the Rev Dr Ian Fraser, by member Kathy Galloway

WCC commemorates life of last surviving founder of Iona Community

Ian Fraser – minister, activist and instigator of the Iona Community, by Hugh MacDonald, from The Herald


When my time comes
please, please, please
no penguin parades,
no solemn posturing:
but folk in jeans,
children playing, babies crying
and dancing in the streets.

– Ian M. Fraser


Photo of Ian M Fraser by David Coleman ©

Upcoming Iona Community gatherings

Iona Community AGM 2018 – celebrating 70 years of Camas, 1-3 June, 2018, Glasgow

The 2018 Iona Community AGM, 1-3 June at Renfield St Stephen’s in Glasgow, will celebrate 70 years of Camas! The programme will also include a Service of Hallowing. More news to follow.

The Iona Community on the march, by Neil Paynter ©

Invitation to a special Community Week: the Iona Community on the Continent, from members Jan Maasen and Desirée van der Hijden

Dear Iona Community members,

We would like to invite you to the 2018 Autumn Community Week in the Netherlands. A Community Week in beautiful surroundings in the north-west of the Netherlands, about 5 kilometres from the sea. A week with the familiar rhythm of Community Week on Iona – but with a Dutch flavour.

When: Saturday 13 October (afternoon) till Friday 19 October 2018 (after breakfast)

Where: Mennonite Holiday and Conference Centre, Dopersduin

For more information contact Jan Maasen and Desirée van der Hijden (see Members Book).

Photo from the Mennonite Holiday and Conference Centre website ©

News and campaigns

Church Action on Poverty Scottish gathering, 15 May, 2018, Cornerstone Centre Hall, Church of St John, Princes Street, Edinburgh

From Church Action on Poverty:

Church Action on Poverty Scottish gathering:
Tuesday 15 May 2018, 4pm – 6pm
Cornerstone Centre Hall, Church of St John, Princes Street, Edinburgh

An opportunity to meet with other Church Action on Poverty members and supporters from across Scotland; to hear from CAP’s Director, Niall Cooper, about our current campaigns and programmes, and explore opportunities for building support for this work in your own church and more broadly across Scotland over the coming period.

To book a place

Church Action on Poverty

Christian Aid Week, 13-19 May 2018

From Christian Aid:

Poverty is an outrage against humanity. It robs people of their dignity and lets injustice thrive. But together we have the power to transform lives.

Will you #StandTogether with us this Christian Aid Week to help families like those of ViliaMarcelin and Jocelyne live full lives, free from poverty?

Christian Aid Week


Palestine Solidarity Campaign

From the Palestine Solidarity Campaign:

Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) is a community of people working together for peace, equality and justice, and against racism, occupation and colonisation.

Together we are the biggest organisation in the UK dedicated to securing Palestinian human rights.

PSC brings people from all walks of life together to campaign for Palestinian rights and freedom.

PSC campaigns

Photo from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign website ©


Lippen on the Holy Spirit, by member Ian M Fraser (born: December 17, 1917; died: April 10, 2018)

The stories I tell here have already been shared as particular items at particular times. But they belong to one journey. Here I thread them into one necklace, each one in order of time. I do so because I have thought: Should I be given the chance before I die to leave one word of advice, what would it be? Without hesitation I knew. It would be ‘Lippen on the Holy Spirit: lean on, trust in, keep turning to, develop a living relationship with the Holy Spirit’ …

– Ian M Fraser



‘Why? (the King of Love is dead)’, by Dr Nina Simone, from YouTube

4th April 2018 marked 50 years since the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jr …

This song was written by Gene Taylor, who played bass for Nina.


Bright God of life: A prayer for Pentecost, by Ruth Burgess

Bright God of life:
burn in our lives,
blow us clean and holy,
bless us with courage and joy,
refine in us your justice,
blaze in us all our days.

– Ruth Burgess, from Friends and Enemies: A book of short prayers & some ways to write your own, Ruth Burgess, Wild Goose Publications


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