Iona, Camas and Glasgow

Staff vacancies on Iona: Shop Manager, Island Housekeeper

Are you looking for an alternative, countercultural and spiritually challenging way to live and work? Then consider joining our Resident Staff on the Isle of Iona to share in a common life and extend our ministry of hospitality to folk from all over the world.

Deadline for applications: Wednesday 5th September, 2018

For information and applications forms

Iona rainbow © David Coleman

Iona Abbey Refectory Café

A great photo below (by Abbey Cook, Anja Jardine) of the Iona Abbey Refectory Café doing a roaring summer trade!

In July, Anja wrote:

On Monday 2nd of July, the ‘Iona Abbey Refectory Café’ opened its doors to the public.

We have an amazing international core team: in front of house there are Hylke from the Netherlands and Miriam from Spain. In the kitchen there are Paty, a very talented and warm young woman from Paraguay, and Stina from Finland, who worked with me previously as a volunteer and is now employed as second chef. Community members, associates and former staff have joined us, or will be joining us, to make up the café team. We love the interaction with the colourful variety of people coming through our doors. It’s like in the ‘olden days’ when the Community ran a coffee house.

So, if you’re on Iona this summer (we will be open until the end of September) come and see us and have a big piece of cake!

Iona Abbey Refectory Café photo © Anja Jardine

Youth Festival 2018, from Iona Community Youth Residential Worker, Hattie Cooper Hockey

During a sunny week in July, a group of volunteer leaders and young people from Glasgow and beyond gathered at Camas for Youth Festival – a week of activities, workshops and discussions, sharing spaces, good food and lots of fun and laughter.

Through a series of small group clan sessions, workshops and discussions, over the week we explored the theme of identity’, looking at the different experiences, values and identities that make us who we are. The group started to think about how an identity that they shared – that of being a ‘young person’ – is stereotyped in different ways. We moved on to look more closely at gender identity and sexuality, challenging binaries and stereotypes that dictate who people are or should be, before more widely looking at how society is structured in ways that discriminate and privilege people based on aspects of their identity. A Youth Fest banner was painted, with a crest designed by the clan groups to represent how their different identities came together to form our festival community, and folk wrote on this one action that they planned to carry out in their own communities back home.

– Hattie Cooper Hockey

Quote from Youth Fest:

‘Over the course of an amazing week, we were able to try so many new things. It was a great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone while surrounded by supportive and helpful people. One of my best memories is going kayaking for the first time …’

– Ciera Douglas, 17 years old

There will be a fuller piece about Youth Festival by Hattie in the upcoming autumn Coracle (Ed.)

Youth Festival 2018 photo © Used with permission

IGLOW news, from Iona Community Youth Worker, Duncan Logie

IGLOW, the Iona Community’s group for young people in Glasgow, has been going well. This year we’ve gone to a Burn’s Supper hosted by our friends at St Paul’s Youth Forum, and had many great discussions on a wide selection of topics ranging from American and Nigerian politics to the process of interpreting ancient texts. We’re currently on break for the summer but will be starting back up again in September.

More news to follow …

– Duncan Logie

IGLOW photo © Used with permission

Camas Open Weeks in 2018

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).

To book, please contact Carol at: [email protected] 


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

The Iona Community and the Wild Goose Resource Group at the Greenbelt Festival, August 24August 27, 2018

Iona Community and WGRG – with Church Action on Poverty (CAP) – are again part of ‘Northern Lights’ at Greenbelt. The Northern Lights programme is taking shape – so far: Wee Sing launch of the new songbook Known Unknowns, Ali Marshall, Debbie Lewer, Spill the Beans, daily worship, CAP sessions …

Iona Community is in the main Greenbelt programme with Iona Community worship on Friday in the Shelter venue. WGRG is in the main programme doing a ‘Big Sing’ at Saturday lunchtime, Shelter venue. John Bell talks on Friday early evening and Saturday morning.


Greenbelt photo © WGRG

Olives and Obligations: Biblical stories, scripts and reflections – Genesis to Nehemiah: New Book from editor and writer Ruth Burgess and Wild Goose Publications

Olives and Obligations is a collection of stories, scripts and reflections written by Iona Community members, associates, friends and others. The collection is based on the biblical books from Genesis to Nehemiah. Esther to Maccabees will follow.

There are some beautiful stories in the Bible and there are some hideous stories as well. What do we do with them? Do we tell them in Sunday school? Do we omit them from the lectionary? Do we try to explain them? Stories are important. Stories are powerful.

Teach us, God, to read the Bible
with wisdom and integrity.
Tell us, in the light and in the darkness,
the stories we need to hear.

Olives and Obligations

Members, associates and friends

Brand Street Protest address, by Iona Community member Alison Swinfen

Address given at a protest in Glasgow in August to oppose Serco’s mass eviction of 300 asylum seekers, who have been forced into destitution. Along with Alison (the Iona Community), speakers included: Aamer Anwar (Human Rights Lawyer), Mohammad Asif (Afghan HRF), Robina Qureshi (Positive Action in Housing), representative of the Jewish and Muslim communities, Jock Morris (Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees), Rev Dr Iain Whyte (Church of Scotland), Sabir Zazai (Scottish Refugee Council), Stand Up to Racism and others.

The Iona Community was founded in this city, in the face of the squalor and poverty in Govan in the 1930s.

As a Community we believe:

– that work for justice, peace and an equitable society is a matter of extreme urgency;

– that, handled with integrity, creation can provide for the needs of all, but not for the greed which leads to injustice and inequality, and endangers life on earth;

– that everyone should have the quality and dignity of a full life that requires adequate physical, social and political opportunity, without the oppression of poverty, injustice and fear.

We follow the pattern of life of a refugee from Palestine.

Who commanded us to love our neighbour, regardless of who they are.

Who enjoyed the hospitality of others.

Who was so shamed and humiliated by nervous, brutal authorities that he was tortured and executed and his friends had to borrow a tomb for his body.

Who said – ‘do not be afraid.’

Who said – ‘peace be with you.’

And who, when confronting the unjust rulers and profiteers did so by walking into the equivalent of the tax office, and denouncing the profiteering, corruption and greed of a den of thieves.

Friends, we have our own den of thieves, hell-bent on turning our hospitality and dreams of justice and equality for all in this city and country into hostility – detaining, deporting and making destitute those who seek sanctuary, and are our neighbours. It is not love for neighbour.

Jesus said to those rulers in his day: ‘Woe to you; woe to the moneyboys – I’ve had it with you – I’m sick of you – you hypocrites. You are roadblocks to lives lived in justice and peace and dignity for all.’

What would Jesus say today to our rulers: ‘Woe to you Serco; woe to you Home Office.’

What would Jesus say to us:

‘Love your neighbour; do not be afraid; I am with you.’

I am with you; we are with you. Peace be with you. Selam. Salaam. Frieden. Paix. Peace be with you.

– Alison Swinfen

Scotland Welcomes Refugees: Stop Serco’s mass eviction

Photo from Twitter ©

Mediterranean Hope, from associate Fiona Kendall

Iona Community associate Fiona Kendall is European and Legal Affairs Advisor for Mediterranean Hope.

Find out about the work of Mediterranean Hope in the film here:

‘The View from Here’, a blog from Director of Christian Aid Scotland and associate of the Iona Community, Sally-Foster Fulton

Sally writes ‘The View from Here’ for Christian Aid every other month. Over the next few months, Sally will be bringing news about solar-powered businesses run by women in Ethiopia, drawing attention to the Climate Bill in the Scottish Parliament, and preparing a global reflection for Christmas …

Sally’s blog:

The View from Here

‘The View from Here’ photo from the Christian Aid website ©

Saidiana Women’s Project, Kenya – a life-transforming experience, from Iona Community associate members Fridah Wafula and Marksen Masinde

It is almost one year now since Kenya emerged out of a chaotic general election which had all the signs of a long political stand off between the opposition and the government of the day. However, the position today is different as a result of a surprise handshake last March between the President and the opposition Chief. It was a big relief for the local population, who can now go about their daily lives without fear, intimidation and interference.

Both of us are therefore encouraged in our work with rural communities in the areas that matter to them most, namely: seeking justice, building peace, overcoming poverty and encouraging sustainability in food production. We believe that heaven manifests on earth when we choose peace, harmony and joy as key expressions; that using integrity, grace, compassion, honesty and generosity, we make a difference in this world, and each quality of unconditional love goes forth and expands everything throughout infinity.

Saidiana Women’s Project (Kenya) is one such example of a life-transforming experience. The group began initially with a membership of 21 women in a village – and now activities cover at least four counties. Today we rejoice in the growth and expansion of our project activities, which include: water harvesting, distributing relief supplies, micro-financing and empowerment, sewing and knitting, promoting literacy levels, HIV/Aids care, and visiting and welcoming the stranger.

Having worked as volunteers on Iona was, and remains, a great inspiration. We’ve enjoyed being inspired by our many new-found global friends over the years. Please continue to share your insights, courage, wisdom and compassion through stories, music, prayers, collaborations and just by reaching out and touching us with your love, that we may touch others in our own communities.

Thanks to Iona Community and friends of the Saidiana Women’s Project for continued prayers and support, associate Mary Smith for helping with co-ordination, and Gavin’s Mill Gifts for being there with gifts that change lives.

From us in Kenya, we wish you all abundant peace, joy and laughter.

Yours faithfully,

Fridah Wafula and Marksen Masinde

Saidiana Women’s Project (Kenya), P.O BOX 3787-30200, Kitale, Kenya

Saidiana photo ©

A collective light for our world, from Executive Director of the Kirkridge Retreat Center, Bangor, USA, Jean Richardson

No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house (Matt 5:15).

In 1939, Dr George MacLeod did not believe in putting the light of the Iona movement under a bushel nor keeping it isolated in Scotland. Seventy-five years ago Dr MacLeod dreamed of a movement beginning with the Kirkridge Retreat Center in Bangor, PA, USA and a young man named John Oliver Nelson. Our gathering spaces, each shaped like a lighthouse, serve to remind all who come to Kirkridge that we are to be a collective light for our world. Moreover, through the clear glass, we clearly see the landscape of the world and work for spiritual and social transformation.

Howard Thurman once wrote, ‘The dream is a bearer of a new possibility, the enlarged horizon, the great hope.’ At Kirkridge, guests are offered an enlarged horizon that encourages divine and sacred dreaming for what is possible in our world. Guests speak of their dreams, visions and faith around tables, in circles and on long walks through the woods. Like on Iona, new internal divine light is often rekindled here and courage is reborn to place our lights upon a stand for all to see.

We are grateful for our historic relationship to the Iona Community. How fitting it was to have an Iona Community member, Katherine Rennie, as a volunteer at Kirkridge recently, to archive our first fifty years of history. And this summer we, once again, welcomed back John Bell to challenge our theology and lead us in worship and music.

We live in gratitude for the original vision of Dr George Macleod and his student Dr John Oliver Nelson. Today, with the support of the Fetzer Institute, we are part of a larger movement to support retreat centers across North America and hopefully soon across our globe. We continue to offer guests a time out to relight their inner flames, fall back in love with a deep calling in this world, and go hand in hand with others to extend the possibility of being a part of spiritual and social transformation across our planet.    

– Jean Richardson, Executive Director of Kirkridge

Kirkridge Retreat Centre

* On the 28th day of each month Iona Community members pray for Kirkridge and for other intentional and basic Christian communities around the world.

Kirkridge photo ©

News from the Wellspring Community in Australia, from Leader of Wellspring, Alex Scutt

In July, many of our members helped to mark NAIDOC Week, which is held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This year’s theme was the essential role that women have played, and continue to play, as active and significant role models in their communities and in the nation more generally.

Our state-based groups here in Australia continue to be active in areas such as Aboriginal reconciliation, working with refugees and asylum seekers and community engagement with sustainable living. As a community we have farewelled seven much-loved members who have died over the past twelve months or so. Tasmanians hosted a wonderful National Gathering in Launceston, their second largest city, last October under the theme of ‘Experiences of struggle and hope’, and our Queensland group is preparing to host next year’s Gathering in Brisbane, under the theme of hospitality.

Plans are in place for a National Workshop, which this year will be on a Bible study from Romans or Colossians from an ecological perspective, led by Dr Vicki Balanbanski, Director of Biblical Studies at the Uniting College for Leadership & Theology in Adelaide. Coincidentally, Vicki has just returned from a time of sabbatical in Scotland.

We send you our love and prayerful good wishes for your vibrant and exciting ministry of which we hear so much from people who visit the holy Isle of Iona.

– Alex Scutt, Leader


* On the 28th day of each month Iona Community members pray for Wellspring and for other intentional and basic Christian communities around the world.

Wellspring photo, from the Wellspring website © Helen Weaver

‘The holy in the everyday’: Iona-inspired Network in Sweden summer gathering, from Ruth Wieting

The Iona-inspired Network in Sweden held its annual summer meeting 4-8 July at Hjortsbergagården in southern Sweden. The theme this year was ‘The holy in the everyday’. There were 20 of us, and the days were warm in both weather and fellowship. We were blessed and challenged by presentations by Helene Hägglund, a former Roman Catholic nun, and by Julia Ryberg, a Quaker. Both of them, each from their own very differing angles and life experiences, encouraged us to look within, to find the God-relationship there, and let that be the foundation for our outward involvements.

As is our custom, on one of the days there was a silent pilgrimage through the green, though dry, surrounding countryside with stops along the way for reflection. One evening we also enjoyed our equivalent of a ceilidh, with participants sharing poems, circle dances and a slide show from two of our members’ visit to Iona. And Julia Ryberg treated us to some lovely violin pieces.

We were divided into groups for planning morning and evening prayer, and preparing breakfast and the evening meal for the group. There was also free time to take a cooling dip in the lake or sit outside in the sun (or the shade) and have a chat with other members, or just sit and enjoy the view of the sparkling lake, feel the breeze and ponder.

On a sad note, during our weekend we received word that one of our members, Lennart Alfredsson, had died after a year’s struggle with pancreatic cancer. (Having attended several Iona Continentals meetings, Lennart was also known to Iona members there.) Though we were deeply saddened, it felt especially meaningful that his passing took place during the time we were gathered. We continue to hold his wife, Simone Allertz, in our prayers.

Those attending the summer meeting left renewed in our fellowship and challenged to open our eyes and hearts to find the holy in our everyday.

– Ruth Wieting, Sweden

Photo after the feast-meal on the Saturday evening, ©

‘Poverty – what can we do?’: Iona SW Gathering, 27th October 2018, Exeter, from member David Osborne

Principal Speaker: Niall Cooper, Director of Church Action on Poverty

When: Saturday 27th October 2018, 11.00am till 4.00pm

Where: South Street Baptist Church, Exeter, EX1 1EB

This is not the same venue as the last Iona Gathering but is nearby.

Cost: There is no charge, but please make a contribution if you can: suggestion £7.

Booking: As this venue is smaller than the previous one, please book if you plan to come. Contact David Osborne (see Members Book).

If you are travelling by car and can offer a lift, please say.

This day is for everyone who is involved with or interested in the Iona Community, and for anyone else who is concerned about poverty and wants ideas and encouragement in working to overcome it.

The day will include worship in the Iona Community style, music, a bring-and-share lunch, a bookstall, information, discussion, news of the building work at the Abbey, and Iona Community news from the South West and beyond.

Geese in flight © David Coleman

Iona Abbey Capital Appeal

Iona Abbey Capital Appeal film


Holy Saturday (an Iona story), by Ron Ferguson

This piece was written shortly after Easter (Ed.).

Iona: place of dreams, visions, and sometimes even nightmares. The island inhabits me, challenges me, inspires me. It has certainly marked me. One afternoon last summer, I returned to the old Benedictine cathedral, a great shelter in the storms. Let me tell you about it.

As I walk down the centre aisle, the sun is streaming through the window, highlighting the big silver cross on the marble communion table. Then I move into a side chapel, where a number of candles flutter in the draughts. I light a candle. I do so for a particular reason. Let me explain.

When I studied at St Andrews University in the 1960s, I lived in an anarchic student residence called Hepburn Hall. In the room next to mine was a hardworking student, a lovely guy by the name of Alan Lewis. We became fast friends.

Alan’s brilliance as a theologian was recognised in his appointment to a lectureship at New College. While there, he began work on a book about Holy Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

In 1987, Alan was appointed to the chair of theology at Austin Presbyterian Seminary in Texas. But in the course of a routine job medical, a tumour was discovered. Alan kept on teaching, and he was much loved by his students. However, his condition deteriorated, and he found himself facing his own dark Saturday.

Alan died on February 19, 1994 at the grievously young age of 49. His great work was nearing completion; Alan’s widow, Kay, lovingly and skilfully finished the task. Between Cross and Resurrection: A Theology of Holy Saturday was published to acclaim.

Describing Alan’s magnum opus as ‘The most remarkable and moving book I have ever read,’ Professor T F Torrance went on: ‘Every page was written by a dying, saintly theologian who stood in the presence of God.’

Alan’s son, Mark, studied his late father’s illness. It was pointed out to him that some of Alan’s forebears had exhibited the same genetic patterns as Alan himself. Mark decided to devote his life to the fight against cancer: he is now gaining a fine reputation as a rising star in the field of oncology in the USA.

The story doesn’t end there, though: Mark began to exhibit some of the same symptoms as his father, indicating that early surgery was called for. That prayer candle in Iona Abbey was for Mark Lewis and his loved ones it was burning at the time when Mark was undergoing potentially life-threatening surgery.

As I brood there in the stillness of Iona Abbey, a young woman sits down at the piano in the organ loft. She starts to sing a haunting song:

You were the Word at the beginning
One with God the Lord Most High
Your hidden glory in creation
Now revealed in You our Christ
What a beautiful Name it is
What a beautiful Name it is
The Name of Jesus Christ my King.

The sun is streaming in again, lighting up the prayer-saturated ancient walls. Ambushed by poignancy and beauty, I find that I am crying.

Mark Lewis has thankfully made an excellent recovery, back doing the skilled, caring work he loves. He will worry about his own son, Alan. Mark’s father would have been so proud of his boy.

As we move from Easter to Pentecost in the great Christian journey, there is so much we simply don’t understand. In the great communion of saints, Alan Lewis will understand more, in the company of the One with the beautiful Name, and nail prints in his hands.

– Ron Ferguson

This reflection was first published in Life & Work magazine and is reproduced by permission. Orkney-based, award-winning writer and playwright Ron Ferguson, who was Leader of the Iona Community from 1981-88, is the author of 15 books (including Chasing the Wild Goose and George MacLeod, Founder of the Iona Community). He is a full-time author and journalist, writing columns for the Press & Journal and Life & Work.

Iona Abbey South Aisle Chapel Photo ©


Prayer for Hiroshima Day (6th August)

God, today in sorrow we remember and share our grief.
The few seconds of annihilating time
at Hiroshima and Nagasaki that seared itself for ever
into the depth of our present existence.
Those who died, those who wish they had died
and those who live never to forget:

The many thousands all over the world
who sighed with relief at the ending
of six long years of war.
Those who died,
those whose suffering made them long for death,
those whose experiences seared their lives
and hopes for ever,
those who waited, mourned,
and lived lives of regret at home:

The scientists, politicians, engineers, technicians
and members of the armed forces
who came to realise the awesome power and
responsibility of new technology,
and who live with the results of that knowledge:

The present generation,
growing up in a changed world
overshadowed by the threat of extinction,
feeling helpless in the web of events:

We acknowledge our share of the pain and the responsibility.
God, in Christ you showed us
that you are not removed from us
but share in our agony and suffering.
You are the mother holding her child from the blast,
you are the tortured prisoner longing for release,
you are the war-weary soldier,
you are the scientist pacing the midnight hour,
you are the child with nuclear nightmares,
you know and suffer our human condition.

We know that nothing can separate us from your love.
We pray for your love to enfold us in comfort,
your love to share our agony,
your love to inspire us to love one another,
your love to live in hope.

– Helen Steven, from The Pattern of Our Days, Kathy Galloway (Ed.), Wild Goose Publications

Nae Nukes Anywhere International Rally, September 22, 2018, Faslane: On September 22, 2018 peace activists from around the world will join Scottish and UK society at Faslane to emphasise that opposition to Trident is based on international and not just Scottish concerns, and to call again for UK involvement with the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

For information about the September 22nd Faslane rally

Faslane vigil photo © David Coleman


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