Iona Abbey Capital Appeal news

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

Members and associates 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. Associate members of the Iona Community are invited to renew their vows annually in June, and many do so on St Columba’s Day (9th June).

There are St Columba’s Day worship resources on the Iona Community’s website (go to if you’re an associate and sign in to download), and Gift Aid envelopes are also available for retiring collections in support of the Appeal. Thank you.

For more information:

[email protected]


St Columba © Kerry Davies

Columba’s Shrine, by Mark A. Smith

Your narrow door is always open.
Your chairs always ready for conversation.
Or silence.
Your rich carpet ready to receive
the feet of the curious tourist,
or the prostrate form of the penitent.

I came with heavier burdens than I realised.
A broken marriage I thought I had processed.
A court date for careless driving
when I returned home.
Mounting financial bills.
Could I afford to be here?
Did I deserve to be here?

I was not ready
to give up my burdens
in the community worship that first night.

Saint Columba,
Tame the water beasts below my conscious mind.
Take my restless heart,
tossing as a coracle on the sea,
and pray for me.
Through Christ,
the Calmer of Storms, I pray.

Leaving my burdens at the Shrine’s altar
I turn toward the saint’s portal.
My stomach already quieter,
my shoulders already lighter,
I step out into the Abbey’s night
and smile at the stars …

And they sing back.

Mark A. Smith, from Iona of My Heart: Daily Readings, Neil Paynter (Ed.), Wild Goose Publications, 2018

Royalties from Iona of My Heart will be donated to the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal.

Iona heart © David Coleman

Iona, Camas and Glasgow

New Leadership team for the Iona Community announced: Christian MacLean and Kathy Galloway, from Marlene Finlayson, Convener of Council

The Iona Community has appointed a new leadership team. Christian MacLean and Kathy Galloway come to the role with excellent credentials. Christian comes with extensive senior management experience in the Voluntary sector and Kathy was formerly head of Christian Aid in Scotland. They have also served the Community in a number of ways over the years: Christian served as Convener of Council and Kathy is a former Leader. Both have also worked for the Community in its island operations on Iona. The appointment of job-share partners for the leadership role is a new development for the Community. We look forward to Christian and Kathy’s leadership through a two-year period of prayerful discernment and renewal around critical issues of organisational change and the future direction of our movement. They have our warmest congratulations, and we look forward to them taking up the joint post at the end of this month.

– Marlene Finlayson (Convener of Council)



Christian MacLean and Kathy Galloway, photos ©

Iona Community Board Address to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 2018: Naming the Powers, by Kathy Galloway

‘Thank you, Moderator. Recently, a member of the Iona Community wrote in a letter, ‘the passing of Ian Fraser felt like part of the soul of the Community going; a light went out’. I know what he meant, and this year in particular, as Iona Abbey is closed for the first time in 70 years to residential occupation and the Iona Community is living between the no longer and the not yet, it’s easy to feel shadowed and empty. But though Ian Masson Fraser is no longer with us, his extraordinary 75 years of membership shaped so much of the Community’s work and witness, its hopes and dreams for the future, and the purpose behind this new time of fundraising and rebuilding that I cannot believe that this light has been extinguished …’


Naming the Powers, by Kathy Galloway

Photo of Ian M Fraser, by David Coleman ©

Columba Fest, 8th-10th June, 2018, Glasgow, from weeWONDERBOX

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

You can 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, John L. Bell, Alyson Hallet, Lorraine McIntosh, Andy Thornton, David Heavenor, The Hazels, Carol Marples, Craig Gardiner … 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?

Thus, we will be drawing 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.

So, come for a day, an evening, or for the entire weekend.

St Columba’s Day resources from Wild Goose Publications

Bell, Book and Candle: A liturgy for St Columba’s Day, by Jan Sutch Pickard

An order of service for use on 9th June, St Columba’s Day, or at any other appropriate time, written during the year of celebration of the 1450th anniversary of St Columba’s arrival on the isle of Iona.

Bell, Book and Candle

 To Love and Serve the World: Worship and reflections for Saint Columba’s Day, Various contributors

A liturgy for St Columba’s Day by Kathy Galloway and a collection of relevant reflections by various other contributors.

To Love and Serve the World

Youth Festival 2018, Camas, 23rd-28th July 2018

A week of workshops, reflection, outdoor activities, community living and fun.

This year’s Youth Festival is being held at Camas, and is open to young people aged 15-17. Price: £175, includes travel from Glasgow, accommodation and all food, though bursaries are available. Please e-mail [email protected] if interested.


Camas photo from Iona Community website ©

4000 native trees planted! – the Camas Woodland Project

In March, 4000 native trees were planted on 1.4 hectares of land next to the Iona Community’s Camas buildings. Back in 2017, the Woodland Trust agreed to provide the trees, stakes and guards if Camas could raise funds for fencing to protect the young trees from deer and sheep, which Camas did – raising £18,345 through crowdfunding – more than double its original funding goal.

In restoring the woodlands, the Camas Woodland Project hopes to bring back Mull’s lost wildlife, ecology and extremely rare lichens only found on the west coast of Scotland. Camas also hopes to bring more local children to the centre so they can learn about the environment on Mull.

The 4000 trees were planted on the ‘New Caledonian Woodlands tree planting week’ at Camas.


Woodland Trust

New Caledonian Woodlands

Camas woodland photo © Rachel McCann

Members, associates and friends

SCANA Pentecost Peace Witness, Faslane nuclear base, 26th May 2018, from member John Harvey

Some 50 of us, from places as far flung as Fife, Arran and New York, were joined by Church leaders from the Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church, and the United Reformed Church, to share in the annual Pentecost Peace Witness of SCANA (Scottish Christians Against Nuclear Arms) at the North Gate of the Trident Naval Base at Faslane. This year, the Iona Community’s Wild Goose Resource Group had prepared a special liturgy, in the form of one of Paul’s New Testament Epistles, based on a letter we all signed to the UK Prime Minister urging her Government to take immediate steps to get Britain to sign up to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which has already been signed by 122 countries around the world. 

So we sang songs, we said prayers, we did our best to make the obscenity, the stupidity and the real and present danger of these weapons of mass destruction as visible as possible, in the light of the constant message of the Gospel and the long-established stance of the Churches. The sun shone (as it usually does NOT!), there were no midges, and after the service we shared a lunch picnic together, and, for some, ended the day with an ice cream in Helensburgh! 

For further information about SCANA, please contact the secretary, John Harvey, at [email protected]

Film and photo by David Coleman ©

World Refugee Day Annual Lecture, 20th June 2018, Glasgow University, by member Alison Swinfen

Alison Swinfen will give the World Refugee Day Lecture: Wednesday, 20 June 2018, 16:00-17:45, Room 224, Graham Kerr Lecture Theatre, Graham Kerr Building

Alison Swinfen is UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts, Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies at the University of Glasgow, Chair of the New Scots Core Group (Scotland’s refugee integration partnership and strategy), and Co-Convener of Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Research Network (GRAMNet).

For more information

Alison Swinfen (works as Alison Phipps)

Photo of Alison Swinfen ©

Member David Coleman to be new Environmental Chaplain for Eco-Congregation Scotland, from Eco-Congregation Scotland

From Eco-Congregation Scotland:

‘We are pleased to announce the appointment of David Coleman as Environmental Chaplain. Rev David Coleman, BA BTh PgDip, is a URC minister and a member of the Iona Community, with exceptional experience in reflective photography, multimedia and writing in the context of local church worship and mission. He has worked with congregations in North Wales, Southern England and the West of Scotland. With a background including the grassroots interface of science and faith, David is delighted to be looking forward to being part of the mission of Eco-Congregation Scotland at this challenging time of cultural transition and climate crisis.’

Eco-Congregation Scotland


Photo of David Coleman ©

Report on Church Action on Poverty’s Scottish gathering, Edinburgh, 15th May 2018, from member Rachel McCann

This small but inspiring gathering took place at St John’s Church, Edinburgh, with attendees coming from a variety of places, including Glasgow, Kinross and Dunfermline. The afternoon of discussion and sharing was led by Niall Cooper, Director of Church Action on Poverty (CAP).

Niall talked about the history of Church Action on Poverty, which was set up in 1982. He also outlined some of the recent campaigns and projects CAP has been involved in, particularly initiatives around hunger and food justice, which have become necessary in the last few years.

We recognised the particular context of Scotland, where there are a number of important projects (both within and outwith the church) and where the Scottish Government is committed to tackling poverty. However, we also recognised that there is still more to be done, including:

– challenging the stigma and discrimination faced by those in poverty in Scotland

– challenging the ‘hostile environment’ and the source of the problems rather than just offering charity: how to engage people with the wider political context

– being a prophetic and clear voice to challenge the damaging and popular rhetoric towards people in poverty perpetuated by media and politicians

– creating materials for affluent churches, in order for all of us to recognise our responsibility and fulfil the biblical call of justice with regard to poverty

– coordinating services that support those experiencing poverty.

Finally we discussed how and where CAP could have a future role in Scotland, and it was hoped that this could be taken further.

– Rachel McCann

Church Action on Poverty

St John’s Church mural ©

‘The Great Ineffable: GalGael Trust’s 2018 visit to Iona’, by associate Alastair McIntosh

‘This was the third visit to Iona of the Govan-centred GalGael Trust in Glasgow. GalGael has been going through a time of major change precipitated by the severe shortage of funds up to the task of addressing poverty-related issues. We were especially needing a break away, a chance to relax and enjoy each other’s company and to reflect on our values in a context that invites depth. The trip was specially funded by benefactors so it didn’t take away from the organisation’s pressing need for core funding. Our intention was, in a very general sense, “to explore what spirituality might or might not mean for us”’



GalGael Trust

 GalGael on Iona, photo ©

Memorial to Grandpa, by Alistair Fraser

Alistair Fraser, Ian M Fraser’s grandson, has very kindly shared this tribute he gave to his grandfather at Ian’s funeral in April.

‘When I think of Grandpa, it’s images I see first. I think of that classic catalogue pose in Iona, the handsome couple staring brightly back at the camera, full of bright promise and young love. I think of the one of Grandpa cutting into a gigantic pavlova, which Grandma had expertly made, and feel like I can see myself looking on, wide-eyed with anticipation. We will all have images of him that we carry round …’



Margaret and Ian on Iona, photo ©

Tribute to Rev David Graham, from associate Jack Kellet

From Jack Kellet:

It is with deep sadness, along with undiminished admiration, that I report here the death in Aberdeen on 3rd May 2018 of Rev David Graham, an inspiration especially to many young people both within and outwith the church while he was Assistant Minister of South Leith Parish Church from 1969 to 1971, and a former Iona Abbey Warden.

We remember also with thanksgiving David’s wife and willing co-youth-worker, Mary.

– Jack Kellet


I remember those who have died:
those who were part of my living
those who live on in my life.

God of the elements, You inhabit me:
family and friends and strangers are at home in me,
stars and planets dance in my bones and blood.

I am me,
and yet I am more than me;
I remember, I learn, I dream,
I touch death and life.

God of eternity,
comfort your people,
living and dying.

Quicken us with wonder,
salt us with justice and integrity,
welcome us with love.

– Ruth Burgess, from Acorns and Archangels, Wild Goose Publications

Photo, by David Coleman ©

News and campaigns

World Refugee Day, 20th June

From World Refugee Day:

In a world where violence forces thousands of families to flee for their lives each day, the time is now to show that the global public stands with refugees.

To do this, the UN Refugee Agency launched the #WithRefugees petition in June 2016 to send a message to governments that they must work together and do their fair share for refugees.

On World Refugee Day, held every year on 20th June, we commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees.

World Refugee Day

© UNHCR/A. D’Amato, from the UN website

Refugee Week, June 2018

Refugee Week takes place every year across the world in the week around World Refugee Day on the 20th June. In the UK, Refugee Week is a nationwide programme of arts, cultural and educational events that celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK, and encourages a better understanding between communities.

Refugee Week started in 1998 as a direct reaction to hostility in the media and society in general towards refugees and asylum seekers. An established part of the UK’s cultural calendar, Refugee Week is now one of the leading national initiatives working to counter this negative climate, defending the importance of sanctuary and the benefits it can bring to both refugees and host communities.

Refugee Week


Columba: a different kind of power, by member Warren Bardsley

‘So you’re off to Iona again. On retreat, I suppose?’

Well, actually, no. Whatever else Iona is, a retreat it is not – at least not in the way the word is normally understood. Iona is not a place of escape, but somewhere to renew commitment to God’s world. The wisdom of Iona points to an engaged spirituality.

Part of the clue lies in its origins. It is a mistaken assumption that when Columba left Ireland in 563, he was abandoning forever the world of power politics.

He was certainly present at the Convention of Drum Cett (near Limavady, N. Ireland) in 575, and was in all probability a major player in that great gathering, which negotiated the royal succession – and according to some historians established peace in the region for fifty years.

What Columba left behind when he quit Ireland was the use of violence in the pursuit of political power. As an ‘island soldier’ he was aligning himself with a different kind of power: a power to heal, reconcile and make peace.

In our own time, the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, living an apparently disengaged life at Gethsemani in the remote Kentucky countryside, was, in his prayer, fully engaged with the world; through his writings he informed and inspired a whole generation of social and political activists.

Once when preparing to return home from some days on Iona I wrote the following:

It’s always hard to leave.
this thin place of sharp
But necessary.
Iona is not a terminus, but a stage on
a larger journey,
a launch pad
for earthy engagement.

– Warren Bardsley, from To Love and Serve the World: Worship and Reflections for Saint Columba’s Day, Wild Goose Publications

Photo of Saint Columba window in Iona Abbey, by David Coleman


Sacred hospitality

[In Columba’s time] hospitality was a sacred monastic tradition, because Christ was the stranger. The Gaelic Rune of Hospitality puts it thus:

We saw a stranger yesterday,
we put food in the eating place,
drink in the drinking place,
music in the listening place,
and, with the sacred name of the Triune God,
he blessed us and our house,
our cattle and our dear ones.

– From Chasing the Wild Goose: The Story of the Iona Community, Ron Ferguson,Wild Goose Publications

Share →

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop us a note so we can take care of it!