Iona, Camas, Glasgow

‘Into this world’: A Christmas message from Kathy Galloway and Christian MacLean, Co-leaders of the Iona Community

‘Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ comes uninvited. But because he cannot be at home in it, because he is out of place in it, and yet he must be in it, his place is with those others for whom there is no room. His place is with those who do not belong, who are rejected by power because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world …’

(Thomas Merton, from Raids on the Unspeakable, New Directions, 1966, p.51-52)

In a dark world where simplicity and vulnerability are despised, ‘truth’ is bought and sold, and the rich close their doors and their lives to the refugee and the homeless, Christ is born.

Come, God, in whom we live and move and have our being,
strengthen us to wait in faith for the dawning of your light.
In a world of noise, still us to be open to your presence in each other and in our world.
In a world of habit and complacency, astonish us with your life.
In a world of conflict and fear, enter the darkness with your peace.
In a world of cynicism and despair, strengthen us to be heralds of your bright hope.
And fill us with the joy of your presence this Christmas.

Thank you for your support, prayers and encouragement through the past year. As we move towards Christmas we think of our Supporters, Friends, Associates and Members across the world, and give thanks for the Community, for the vision and struggle we share for a more just and peaceful world, and for all those with whom we share our journey in faith. We know many of you are facing hard situations but we pray that wherever you are the joy and peace of Christmas will be with you.

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

– Kathy and Christian

Iona dawn © David Coleman

Vacancies on Iona for 2019 …

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

We are currently recruiting our Resident Staff Team for 2019 and accepting applications for the following posts:


Iona Housekeeper

Iona Assistant Cook

Iona Operations Manager

Deadline for applications: 10th January, 2019

For information and application forms

Iona gate © David Coleman

Christmas query: A reflection from Iona Centres Director, Heinz Toller

As the coach approached the city centre, it felt like I must be time-travelling.

Christmas was the message screaming from all sides – lights, decorations, adverts, shoppers – and it wasn’t even Advent yet!

Coming from the unspoilt, serene, rugged and wild beauty of Iona, I was somewhat unprepared for the sudden onslaught of the city’s tawdriness.

And then there were its victims, scores of them, sitting on the wet, cold pavements, at corners, in entrances, whispering ‘Change, please’ and holding up their collecting cups.

The harsh contrast reminded me of the contrasts alluded to in the Christmas stories: God coming into this world in a stable, unexpected, unplanned, unscheduled. The son of a God of surprises who speaks of a Kingdom which is as surprising as his birth itself; in the words of the Welsh poet R.S. Thomas:

The Kingdom, by R.S. Thomas

Advent, Christmas is about the beginning, the coming of that Kingdom in the here and now, for the here and now – pointing to a new direction in an aimlessly drifting world.

When we look into the face of that newborn child, love looks back at us and wants to light up our yearning for the Kingdom, a different, a better world.

When those asking for change look into our face, what ‘looks at them back’? What do we have to offer them? …

– Heinz Toller

Iona night sky © David Coleman

Glory to God in the High St, by George MacLeod, Founder of the Iona Community

An Iona Community classic:

A boy threw a stone at the stained-glass window of the Incarnation. It nicked out the ‘E’ in the word HIGHEST in the text, ‘GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST’. Thus, till unfortunately it was mended, it read, ‘GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGH ST’.

At least the mended E might have been contrived on a swivel so that in a high wind it would have been impossible to see which way it read. Such is the genius, and the offence, of Christian revelation. Holiness, salvation, glory are all come down to earth in Jesus Christ our Lord. Truth is found in the constant interaction of the claim that the apex of the Divine Majesty is declared in Christ’s humanity. The Word of God cannot be dissociated from the Action of God. As the blood courses through the body, so the spiritual is alone kept healthy in its interaction in the High Street.

(Originally from Only One Way Left, George MacLeod, 1954)

– From Daily Readings with George MacLeod, Ron Ferguson (Ed.), Wild Goose Publications


‘Among the poor’, a Christmas prayer from the Wild Goose Resource Group

Among the poor,
among the proud,
among the persecuted,
among the privileged,
Christ is coming.
He is coming to make all things new.

In the private house,
in the market place,
in the wedding feast,
in the judgement hall,
Christ is coming.
He is coming to make all things new.

With a gentle touch,
with an angry word,
with a clear conscience,
with burning love,
Christ is coming.
He is coming to make all things new.

That the kingdom might come,
that the world might believe,
that the powerful might stumble,
that the humble might be raised,
Christ is coming.
He is coming to make all things new.

Within us,
without us,
among us,
before us,
in this place,
in every place,
for this time,
for all time,
Christ is coming.
He is coming to make all things new.

© 2002 Wild Goose Resource Group, from Cloth for the Cradle, Wild Goose Worship Group, Wild Goose Publications

Camas Outdoor Activity Centre – Open Weeks in 2019

Spring Work Week (25th–30th March):

Come and get Camas up and running for the season ahead. Light the stoves, spruce up the rooms, check roofs are still on sheds, and launch the boat, as well as many other tasks. Live and work together as part of a community for the week in this remote and beautiful part of the world. There’ll be time to explore the local area and look up at the stars at night!

Easter Holiday Family Week (8th–13th April):

Spend a week living in community with other families in the remote Camas Bay. We will be offering a range of outdoor activities as well as trips to the beach and to Iona. There’ll be time for cooking, being in the garden or reading your book by the sea. (Adults pay according to the rates below, children under 16 at £125.)

May Garden Week (6th–11th May):

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, option of a day trip, and lots of tea and cake to keep you going!

Pricing information:

It’s really important to us that Camas is open to everyone regardless of financial circumstances. We therefore offer different rates depending on what guests can afford to pay.

£250 supporter rate – for those who are able to give a bit more

£175 standard rate – for those on average incomes

£125 concessionary rate – for students and those on low incomes. If you are unable to afford this then please contact us because we want to make sure no one is excluded from staying at Camas because of their financial situation.

For enquiries and booking: [email protected]

More weeks to follow – watch this space!


Photo from the Iona Community website ©

Iona Abbey Capital Appeal

HRH The Princess Royal hosts reception for the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal, from Coordinator of the Appeal, Christine Jones

At the beginning of December, The Princess Royal, as patron of the Capital Appeal, hosted a reception with Iona Community Members in the Chapel at the University of Glasgow. The 50 people who attended included donors, supporters, partners, islanders, people who have benefitted from time with the Iona Community and people who were interested to know more about the life of work and worship at the Abbey. It was a time for giving thanks, sharing stories, meeting friends and welcoming the stranger. The Princess spoke individually to the invited guests, and when we gathered for the formal presentations, she congratulated the Iona Community on a successful campaign, highlighting the value of life in Community and the significance of the international reach of the Iona Community.

I presented the Princess with a framed copy of an illustration of St John’s Cross, as was designed for ‘Cross the Line’, and also a pair of socks knitted with Iona wool – gifts that were a perfect fit! The event marked a time of transition as the Appeal team look to 2019 in the hope of reaching the funding target, whilst also realising the enormous investment the campaign has created in promising new life for other areas of the Iona Community.

2018 has been quite a year for the Capital Appeal – thank you to everyone who has supported the Appeal, donated, packed envelopes, initiated fundraisers and engaged in any way with sharing the story. Sometimes wonderful, miraculous things have emerged from conversations and often being in touch has created opportunities for pastoral care. The life of work and worship at Iona touches people in profound ways and the Appeal has created a forum for people to recount those transforming stories.

– Christine Jones, Coordinator of the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal

Photo: HRH The Princess Royal, Patron of the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal, smiles as she receives a gift of hand-knitted woollen socks after speaking at an event for the Iona Community at the Glasgow University Memorial Chapel. Photo by Stuart Wallace ©

Online Auction for the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal, from member Fiona Fidgin

In February 2019 we will be holding an online auction to raise funds for the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal.

Is there something that you could auction? We’re not only looking for goods – but also experiences, job offers, etc. Please think about what you might be able to auction.

Details of how to register your goods and interests will be available soon. So watch this space! Thank you.

 – Fiona Fidgin

News and campaigns

Christian Aid Christmas Appeal

From Christian Aid:

Will you be a peacemaker by supporting Christmas Aid – our Christmas Appeal to help bring peace to people affected by conflict worldwide?
Violence destroys lives and tears families apart. But while peace is broken every day, it’s also built – by strong women and men working to heal their communities.

These frontline peacemakers include Diana and Hamza in Lebanon, who are helping child survivors of conflict come to terms with their traumatic experiences.

Christmas Appeal

Celebrating 70 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

From the UN Human Rights office:

Thanks to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the dignity of millions has been uplifted, untold human suffering prevented and the foundations for a most just world have been laid. While its promise is yet to be fulfilled, the very fact that it has stood the test of time is testament to the enduring universality of its perennial values of equality, justice and human dignity … The 7oth anniversary is a chance for the world to celebrate the gift of the Universal Declaration and to help reaffirm the enduring human rights principles and standards it has helped establish.

Information and to take action

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 …

Right to Remain

Amnesty International

From Amnesty International:

We are ordinary people from across the world standing up for humanity and human rights …

Current campaigns and issues

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 ©

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 18th-25th January, 2019, from Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI)

From CTBI:

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is traditionally observed from the 18th to the 25th January – the octave of St Peter and St Paul. However, some areas observe it at Pentecost or some other time.

Material for 2019 originates from the churches of Indonesia, where there is a strong emphasis upon the need for unity alongside the nation’s ethnic and religious diversity. The resources also highlight issues of economic injustice and how religious pluralism can face challenges in the face of radicalisation. The theme is based around Deuteronomy 16:18-20, ‘Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue …’

Resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, 2019

‘Different light’: Church Action on Poverty Sunday, 3rd March, 2019, from Church Action on Poverty (CAP)

From CAP:

When Jesus’ followers witnessed the Transfiguration, it helped them to see the world and their mission in a different light.

On Church Action on Poverty Sunday, 3rd March, 2019, the Gospel reading for many churches will be the story of the Transfiguration. We invite you to join us on that day in looking at things in a different light, just as the Apostles did.

– Listen to stories of how Church Action on Poverty’s work transforms lives and communities.

– Commit your church to listen more deeply to people who have been swept to the edges of society by poverty.

– Explore new perspectives on familiar Bible stories.

– Hold a collection or soup lunch – raise funds to make voices heard, tell stories and call for action.

– Use our worship materials to reflect and pray for change.

Church Action on Poverty Sunday resources


Homelessness is you, homelessness is me, by Neil Paynter

Homelessness is you, homelessness is me
Homelessness is Dan who was a miner
Homelessness is Eric who was a computer programmer
Homelessness is Emily who was a student
Homelessness is Brian who worked packing meat for a while,
and worked picking fruit for a season,
and works in construction when they can use him
Homelessness is you, homelessness is me

Homelessness is Jack who fought in the Falklands War
Homelessness is Harry who fought in Normandy and in Korea
and in the east end of Glasgow
Homelessness is Jane who fought and survived
the mental health system
Homelessness is Maggie who says:
If there’s one thing she’s learned – it’s that she’s a survivor
Homelessness is you, homelessness is me

Homelessness is David who sees guardian angels in the trees;
seraphim perched on fences
Homelessness is Sarah who sees no way out
Homelessness is Eric who jumped from a bridge in London
Homelessness is Chan who they found frozen in a dumpster
Homelessness is you, homelessness is me

Homelessness is Ewan who has travelled to South America and
China and Alaska,
and has so many stories he could fill a book
Two books!
Homelessness is Victor
who has a tattoo of a butterfly he reveals –
like he’s baring his soul
Homelessness is Jenny who is dying of AIDS,
and whose last wish is to travel to Skye …
to sit on a beach near Portree
and watch the sun setting
Homelessness is you, homelessness is me

Homelessness is Mohammed who sleeps in his car,
and has to keep moving on when the cops come
Homelessness is Ray who sleeps in the graveyard
Homelessness is Vernon who lives in a tidy squat
where he likes to read the Evening Times
and cook sausages
Homelessness is you, homelessness is me

Homelessness is Sittina who escaped the war in Sudan
and is scared of being deported by the Home Office
Homelessness is Susan who escaped her husband in Manchester
and is scared of being found and killed
Homelessness is Jessica who escaped her stepfather

Homelessness is Curtis who volunteers at a charity shop
and can fix anything – radios, TVs, bicycles, washing machines …
Homelessness is Curtis who’s lived for forty years with the labels
stupid, defective, disabled, broken …

Homelessness is Neil who loves to sit and talk about ’60s music –
and knows his stuff
Homelessness is Nicola who loves the ballet
Homelessness is Sylvester who plays joyful, jangly ragtime piano in the shelter chapel
Homelessness is Paul who writes the most sensitive, beautiful poetry
Homelessness is you, homelessness is me

Homelessness is Craig who never speaks or smiles
and has a collie dog he takes excellent care of
Homelessness is Ian who wanders the streets looking for a hit,
and has a distant light in his eyes when he remembers:
playing football with his mates, walking in the hills,
fishing for salmon …
Homelessness is you, homelessness is me

Homelessness is Chaz and Barry and Lynne,
who spent their childhoods in and out of foster care,
their teenage years in and out of institutions,
and all of their adult lives inside either jails or shelters
Homelessness is Albert who spent 10 years inside Belmarsh,
where he learned to hate
and how to play
the whole dirty, rotten game

Homelessness is Dave who wants to work with children
Homelessness is Lewis who can’t pay his council tax
Homelessness is Norma who can’t pay her electric
Homelessness is Elizabeth who is eight months pregnant
Homelessness is Miles who misses tucking his kids in

Homelessness is Robbie who says:
when he wins the lottery he’s gonna buy his own tropical island,
and give what’s left to the nuns –
who accepted him for who he is,
who treated him like a human being again
Homelessness is you, homelessness is me

Homelessness is Dick who says:
‘I was staying with friends but they get sick of you.’
Homelessness is Chris and Nina who take good care of each other
and make love where –
and when –
they can
Homelessness is Matt who says you feel like ‘the invisible man’
Homelessness is Vincent who says:
‘It could happen to anyone, people don’t realise –
lose your family, your job, your mind …
People have no idea –
how close to the edge they’re walkin’.’
Homelessness is me
Homelessness is you …

Inspired by work in night shelters in Canada, London and Edinburgh.

‘Homelessness is you, homelessness is me’ taken from a story by Ed Loring, Open Door Community, USA.

From Down to Earth, Neil Paynter, Wild Goose Publications




‘Cry of a tiny babe’, by Bruce Cockburn, from YouTube

Christmas song from Canadian prophet Bruce Cockburn. From Nothing But A Burning Light (Ed.) …


Carrying a candle, by member Jan Sutch Pickard

Carrying a candle
from one little place of shelter
to another
is an act of love.

To move through the huge
and hungry darkness, step by step,
against the invisible wind
that blows for ever around the world,
carrying a candle
is an act of foolhardy hope.

Surely it will be blown out:
the wind is contemptuous,
the darkness cannot comprehend it.
How much light can this tiny flame shed
on all the great issues of the day?
It is as helpless as a newborn child.

Look how the human hand,
which cradles it, has become translucent:
fragile and beautiful; foolish and loving.
Step by step.

The wind is stronger than this hand,
and the darkness infinite
around this tiny here-and-now flame
that wavers, but keeps burning:
carried with such care
through an uncaring world
from one little place of shelter to another.
An act of love.

The light shines in the darkness
and the darkness can never put it out.

Jan Sutch Pickard, from Candles & Conifers, Ruth Burgess, Wild Goose Publications



A New Year blessing from Bethlehem

This blessing is a rephrasing of a Christmas greeting sent in a card from Bethlehem by Hanna Azar, a Palestinian who had been a volunteer in Iona several times …

May this coming year
be full of love, joy and peace,
in our hearts, in our communities
and in our countries;
may the small Jesus Baby born in Bethlehem
light our lives,
guide our ways toward the best
and save us from all harm.

– Hanna Azar, Palestine, from Jan Sutch Pickard, in Winter, Ruth Burgess (Ed.) Wild Goose Publications

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