Iona, Camas and Glasgow

Musical talent, gusto, swimming in the sea – and seaweed fights: Young people from Castlemilk at Camas, from the Camas Diary

From the Camas Diary (the Camas blog):

‘… All six of the young people from Castlemilk engaged in both kayaking and abseiling … During kayaking a wild (but friendly) seaweed-tossing fight broke out and one of the most reluctant participants proved to be an enthusiastic thrower who engaged in the skirmish with total abandon and much enjoyment …’


2019 Camas Open Weeks

Camas: the outdoor centre with a difference

Photo from the Camas Diary, ©

‘A wide hospitality’: A reflection from Iona Centre Manager, Heinz Toller

‘Here we are – in the middle of the year and the visitors’ season, both the Mac and Abbey closed for visitors – and yet in some respects as busy as if we were open for business.

The small team of the international resident community – vollies, staff, members and associates – works well together, sustaining our three daily services, running the shop, and engaging with day visitors as well as those staying for a week or more in B&Bs, hotels, pods, hostels and at Camas … We have discovered that hospitality is something wider than just welcoming residential guests! …’



‘Iona Community team boat trip’ photo ©

2020 Iona Calendar – to help raise funds for a new Iona Village Hall, from the Iona Village Hall Trustees

From the Iona Village Hall Trustees:

To help raise funds for the new hall, we’ve created a calendar for 2020 featuring 12 stunning photographs by Iona photographers …

2020 Iona Calendar

Iona Village Hall: at the heart of Iona

‘Community in a time of climate change’: Iona Community Young Adults Group Week, 14th-20th August, 2019

The Iona Community Young Adults Group is organising a week away this summer:

What?: An Iona Community-style week living in community with other young adults, exploring what community means in the current and ever-growing climate emergency. We will spend time each day contributing to the work of the community where we’ll be staying as well as talking, reflecting, learning and building community together.

Who?: Anyone aged 19-30. Although the week is organised by the Iona Community Young Adults Group, it is not exclusive to just this group or those connected to the Iona Community.

Where?: Old Chapel Farm in Wales

How much?: The cost will be between £60 and £75 per person for the week and includes accommodation (of either camping or sleeping in the old chapel) and food. 

Fuller details and a booking form:

More information
Booking form

Old Chapel Farm, from The Wilderness Trust website, photo ©

2019 Autumn Encounters Programme on Iona, from Pat Bennett, Iona Community Programmes Development Worker

We are once again running some short residential programmes based at the St Columba Hotel this October. Three excellent retreats are in prospect: Poet and translator Mark Burrows will be exploring some ‘late’ poetry from contemporary poets as a source of wisdom for life; Jo Love (WGRG) will be offering creative autumnal ways of engaging with scriptural and seasonal stories; and Debbie Lewer will be looking at shadows in art and faith.  

Full details of the programmes and prices can be found here, where there is also a poster and a new leaflet which can be downloaded for use in advertising. Even if you are not able to come yourself, do please consider spreading the word about this programme – it allows us to continue to offer residential engagement during the Abbey Centre closure and also makes an important contribution to various different island economies.

There is also a new short video featuring some lovely photographs by members David Coleman and Alison Adam set to a track from the Wild Goose Resource Group. This can be seen below, and shared from the Iona Community website or our Facebook page. We can also send copies of the mp4 if anyone is able to use it on their own or church website: e-mail [email protected]

Thank you.

And Jesus Said No: A liturgy on sectarianism – new resource from the Wild Goose Resource Group

What would Jesus ‘do’ about Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists if he were present in person today? Would he embark on an evangelistic campaign, or prefer to befriend people who were not of his faith? We cannot give a definitive answer, but we might learn something from considering his attitude to the Samaritans, a tribe who were ridiculed and despised by his own tradition. These ‘foreigners’ so intrigued and delighted Jesus that he spent an extra two days in their company. Did it change his attitude? That is the question this liturgy poses.

And Jesus Said No is the thirteenth in the series of WGRG Liturgy Booklets. It contains a complete liturgy, in both Leaders’ and Congregational versions, with full preparatory notes.

And Jesus Said No

Into the Foothills of Transformation, by Donald Eadie – new book from Wild Goose Publications

Shortly after becoming Chairman of the Birmingham District of the Methodist Church, Donald Eadie was told that he had a degenerative disc disease. Following three major spinal operations, he was forced to retire, and to face the letting go of identity and role, feelings of marginalisation and abandonment – living with the death of the old life, and not being able to imagine a new one with meaning and purpose.

Jesuit priest and writer Gerard Hughes accompanied Donald during this time. ‘The borderlands are the place of exploration and discovery. They are the new centre,’ he said. And paradoxically, in time, Donald began to experience the move away from the centre of a busy life to the edge as a journey deeper into the heart of things.

‘There will be new companions,’ another wise old friend promised. And to Donald’s great surprise and joy this has been true.

Much of Donald’s time is now lived in ‘a loved room’, visited by people who are also pilgrims within the borderlands.

Into the Foothills of Transformation is a collection of Donald’s reflections and journal writings, and letters, prayers and poems.

Donald’s previous book is Grain In Winter.

Into the Foothills of Transformation

Iona Abbey Capital Appeal

Jimmy: An Iona story, by member Iain Whyte

Jimmy (not his real name) is someone I sometimes think of when I read or preach on the encounter of Jesus with the tragic man who lived in the tombs who was, as the gospel writers understood it in their time, ‘tormented by devils’, self-harming, throwing off his clothes and wandering through public places while his mind was confused.

After spells in psychiatric hospitals Jimmy was now in the community, but very vulnerable. He wanted to join a group spending three nights at the Abbey, because he had always wanted to go to Iona.

At the preparation meeting Jimmy had been very concerned about whether he would be able to cope and whether he would be accepted at the Abbey. He freaked out a bit over the chores, but in a very short time made breakthroughs with folk from a variety of backgrounds.

Jimmy played the guitar and sang songs he had composed. We persuaded him to do a turn at the weekly guest concert. Jimmy gave of himself totally to this, and the clapping and cheering would have done justice to a concert-hall maestro. It reduced Jimmy to tears – of joy. This shy and awkward young man, whose confidence had so often been totally sapped, got up at the farewell meal at the Abbey. He spoke of his anxiety about coming to Iona, but of the extraordinary friendship, acceptance and support he had experienced in these last three days. He would remember this, and remember those he had befriended and lived with, as an inspiration and encouragement to him. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

– Iain Whyte, from Iona of My Heart: Daily Readings

All royalties from Iona of My Heart go to the Iona Abbey Capital Appeal

‘Iona heart’, by David Coleman ©

Members, associates and friends

Reflection on the Northeast USA Regional Gathering, June 2019, from associate member Katharine Preston

‘What are you fishing for, this time of year?’


‘Ah – they ought to taste good!’

‘They would be … if we could catch them. That’s the haaad part!’

The response of a Maine native (‘haaad’) to my question as I passed by on an early-morning walk along the beautiful beach in front of the Marie Joseph Spiritual Center in Biddeford. Along with 24 others, I was attending the yearly gathering of the New England Iona Associates.

After our opening worship, our programme moved into a ‘check in’ time, where we shared a bit about ourselves. We then listened to a wonderfully illustrated presentation by Phyllis and Bobby Ives about the history of Iona, including the influence of Columba, the Iona Community, as well as past and present villagers; a description by me of my recent book – Field with a View (Wild Goose Publications); and a presentation by Paul Sullivan, SOF, on the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. We had updates on the Community and on the New World Foundation and discussed how to enhance our interactions with other associates.

After a pilgrimage through a marsh and along the beach, led by Dick Waddell, we concluded with a community Eucharist and recommitment service under the shade of a lovely maple tree.

Although brief, only about 24 hours together, this gathering has become precious to those who attend, as it connects us with others who share the commitment to inspiring worship and to working for peace and justice that are the marks of the Iona Community. We leave knowing that there are special prayers for all of us living the Rule, each in our own particular way. The sharing makes living the Rule less hard. 

– Katharine Preston

Northeast folk photo © Chad Wohlers

The Open Door Community, Baltimore, USA: ‘A prophetic discipleship community honouring the black Jesus, Dorothy Day and Martin Luther King Jr.’

News from one of our sister communities:

‘At the open table’: Ed Loring, a founder of Open Door, on the streets of Baltimore

Current edition of Hospitality: the newspaper of the Open Door Community

The Open Door Community is a residential community in the Catholic Worker tradition (we’re sometimes called a Protestant Catholic Worker House). We seek to dismantle racism, sexism and hetero-sexism, abolish the death penalty, and proclaim the Beloved Community through loving relationships with some of the most neglected and outcast of God’s children: the homeless and our sisters and brothers who are in prison.

We have a prison ministry, including monthly trips for families to visit loved ones at the Hardwick Prisons in central Georgia. We also advocate on behalf of the oppressed, homeless and prisoners through non-violent protests, grassroots organising and the publication of our monthly newspaper, Hospitality (From the Open Door website).

Open Door Community photo ©

Ecu-Action: news from some of our friends in New Zealand, from Sheena Dickson

As you can imagine, the country is still mourning the loss of so many people [15 March, 2019]. Our Kiwi Muslims should have been safe in their worship spaces but the intelligence services were looking in the wrong places and for the wrong people. It was a tragic event on so many levels. 

Thankfully we have a PM who embodies compassion and care. The new gun law she pushed through so quickly, and which so angered the gun lobby, is being enforced.

There’s a growing movement to have a national debate on racism, and Ecu-Action hopes to play a part in that. I hope to be involved too as I minister in a very low socio-economic area where racist attitudes and unhelpful stereotypes regarding people of colour as well as Maori and Polynesian people are deeply entrenched. I’m under no illusion that racism will be eradicated any time soon but if it can be brought out into the open in a healthy and constructive debate then we might get somewhere.

Currently Ecu-Action is offering four seminars on ‘Climate change and a faith response’. We asked some respected and engaging speakers. The feedback is all positive so far. It can be pretty lively on the night because we never know who’s going to rock up and join in the question time … it can be quite exciting.

Thanks for your interest in our work and in Aotearoa New Zealand’s journey to wholeness.

Nga mihi nui 

– Sheena Dickson

Reflections from the 2019 Kirchentag, from member David Coleman

Impressions and thoughts from Iona Community member and Eco-chaplain David Coleman – who has recently returned from the 2019 Kirchentag in Dortmund, Germany:


Photo of David Coleman ©

Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s ‘Commission on Housing, Church and Community’, from associate member Paul Nicolson of Taxpayers Against Poverty

Here is our submission to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s ‘Commission on Housing, Church and Community’. I am sending it in case it might be of interest within the Iona Community.

With best wishes, Paul

To the Archbishop of Canterbury’s ‘Commission on Housing, Church and Community’

Taxpayers Against Poverty

Photo of Paul Nicolson ©

Extinction Rebellion

Iona Community folk Gill Westcott and Tim Gorringe have been active in supporting Extinction Rebellion. Reflecting on the recent actions in London, Gill wrote these hopeful and impelling words:

‘Many people have been … fearful of what climate change will bring – horrified at the news of disappearing insects, birds and animals, yet without hope or direction. But offered the chance to act, in a spirit of non-violence and sacrifice, they do. The invitation to do what is right, without assurance of results, is liberating. With the support of those willing to change purchasing and lifestyles, and enough citizens ready to play a part in political action, can this potential be maintained long enough to change the course of our economies? Could it bring acknowledgement of planetary limits into our daily lives and our social and political fabric? Whether it does may depend upon the actions of all of us …’

More in an upcoming Coracle/e-Coracle.

Photo from the Extinction Rebellion website ©

Stop New Nuclear Springfields action

Iona Community members Douglas Shaw and Jean Oliver recently took part in an action at Springfields. ‘Springfields is the world’s first nuclear fuel manufacturing plant, based in a small village near Preston. It carries out civil and military nuclear contracts for facilities across the UK, producing nuclear fuel, storing and processing nuclear waste and decommissioning nuclear plants and facilities’ (from the CND website).

More in the upcoming Coracle.

Photo from the ‘Stop New Nuclear’ website, ©

‘Gathering in Glasgow on Conflict and Faith’, 31st October-2nd November, 2019, from Director of Place for Hope and Iona Community member Ruth Harvey

Dear friends,

On behalf of Place for Hope and our partners, I’m delighted to announce that bookings for this gathering are now live.

The aim of the gathering is:

– to respond to the hunger for reconciliation and peace in our churches and communities

– to develop and sustain the art of conflict transformation, reconciliation and peacebuilding

– to nurture the network of skilled practitioners that supports this work

– to strengthen the unique contribution churches and faith communities make to the work of conflict transformation

– to discover peacemaking skills you never knew you had.

The gathering is intended for:

All interested in the art of faith-based conflict transformation, including local church members, church leaders, practitioners in faith-based mediation.

Expert input/skills training offered by: Place for Hope, St. Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation, The Blackley Centre for Reconciliation, St Michael’s House, Bridge Builders Ministries, The Corrymeela Community, The Rose Castle Foundation, The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Reconciliation Ministry, Centre for Good Relations, Scottish Mediation and others.

Details and a booking link here

With love and light,


‘Somer and Areeb must stay in the UK’, petition forwarded from friend of the Community Alastair Ogilvie

From Alastair Ogilvie:

This petition needs to reach 100,000 so it may be presented to the UK Parliament:

‘Somer and Areeb must stay in the UK’ petition, from 38 Degrees

Best wishes,

Alastair Ogilvie

Iona Community member Alex Clare-Young to be ordained in the URC, from member Anna Briggs

When Alex Clare-Young, a ministry student at Westminster College Cambridge, was nearing the end of his internship at St Columba’s United Reformed Church in York, church minister Revd Alison Micklem told Alex there would have to be some kind of farewell to him during his last service there. ‘I hope you won’t all be laying hands on me,’ Alex had joked.

During the weeks before his departure church members had prepared a surprise for him. A very large wrap or blanket was made, using quilted fabric and adorned with the ‘hands’ of all the members. The wrap was planned and finished by church member Anna Briggs. Each hand was fixed onto the background and edged with colourful fabric paints.

On Sunday 26th May, Alex conducted the service, and prayers for Alex and his future were led by Alison and staff member Katherine Buckland. At the end of the prayers Alison told Alex that we were, after all, going to ‘lay hands’ on him, and wrapped him in his blanket. Alison said she hoped that he would always remember the love and affection in which St Columba’s congregation held him.

Alex will be ordained to serve a church in Hull in July and many church members are hoping to be there. Alex was hallowed as a member of the Iona Community in May.


Photo: ‘Alex, blanket and Revd Alison Micklem’, ©

About death cafés, from associate member Rachel Weiss

Thank you for the latest e-Coracle.

Members may be interested to read about the death cafés held in Perth twice a year. This is part of a worldwide network of Death Café events.

Until recently, the Perth Death Cafés were run by a steering group of four people, three of whom are Iona Community members: Ruth Burgess, Liz Patterson and myself. However, I have just stepped down – but that still leaves two Iona Community members running the events.

They are pop-up events where people, often strangers, gather to drink tea and coffee, eat and talk about death. I think this could be of interest to e-Coracle readers, and may inspire them to host a death café in their neighbourhood. We have a well-tried and tested menu of discussion starter questions which readers may find helpful.

Recent feedback includes: ‘it was good to hear other people’s experiences’, ‘amazing gentle, funny moments’, ‘open non-judgemental honest conversation’, ‘I enjoyed the variety of people there and it was good to listen to different perspectives.’

– Rachel Weiss

Photo by NP and HL ©

Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, from friend of the Community Jane Dallas Ross

Dear Friends,

I am back home in the UK from my three-month stay as an EA in Palestine and Israel with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme, and looking forward to sharing with you what I have witnessed and learned. I’ve been moved and shocked witnessing the impact of the Occupation upon both Palestinians and Israelis, and also utterly inspired by the warmth, the humour and the wonderful creative actions taken by those working for a just peace, an end to the occupation, and to improve the day-to-day life of Palestinians. Please get in touch if you would like to arrange a talk or a contribution to an event: [email protected]

This link will take you to recent accounts from EAs in the field

My warmest wishes,


Photo from EAPPI website, ©

A tribute to Ellen Moxley

It is with sadness that we tell you that Ellen Moxley, former Iona Community Member, died peacefully at home on Monday, July 8th, with close friends around her. We remember and give thanks for her inspirational life. We send our prayers and love to all who cared for and loved Ellen.

A full tribute to Ellen will follow.

2004 Peace Award and Annual Lecture, by Helen Steven and Ellen Moxley, from the Gandhi Foundation

Photo of Ellen Moxley at Faslane ©

Festivals and gatherings

Generous hospitality: the Iona Community at the Glastonbury Festival, 2019, by member Deborah Chaloner

Before the festival started, three of us arrived in a transit van full of all the things we needed to set up camp. We were joined by seven others, who mainly arrived on the Monday and Tuesday. We set about building a community around the common task of preparing a sanctuary next to the rave area.

Old friends often visit as they arrive, and we become a part of the south east corner community of volunteers and workers at the festival.

From Wednesday afternoon – having set up the camp area by building benches, repairing steps, setting up a ‘quiet’ prayer space and decorating with lights and flags – we were open each day from about 10am to 5 or 6am the next day. We had many conversations about all sorts of things. Many questions were asked about ‘what is the Iona Community?’ and many questions asked about Christianity. Many people were surprised that the Iona Community offered a liberal, welcoming and politically engaged Christianity in contrast to the more fundamentalist Christianity which many people were familiar with.

One lesbian woman wept when I told her that one of our volunteers had presided at the first same-sex marriage in a church in a Midlands town.

People came in to have a cool down, to take time out, to chat, to have water bottles filled, to feed their babies, to sing or to find a safe place. The campfire is very attractive at night. One man, at about 2am, had clearly decided we were a safe place for an acid trip. He appeared to be on a very mellow trip but when some men came in and starting to line up lines of cocaine he turned to them and told them that they shouldn’t do that in our camp as it wasn’t appropriate. They meekly left!

We built a beautiful community which offered generous hospitality. It was such a privilege to meet so many lovely and interesting people. Hopefully we found ‘new ways to touch the hearts’ of many.

– Deborah Chaloner

Photo © Richard Pickering

Greenbelt Festival, August 23-26, 2019

John Bell will be speaking at Greenbelt on the Friday evening. For more info:

Greenbelt Festival


Photo of John Bell ©

Iona Continentals Meeting 2019, the Netherlands, 27th August-1st September, 2019

The Iona Continentals Group is holding its annual meeting in the Netherlands in August at the Mennonite Centre in Dopersduin, Schoorl. The theme of the meeting is ‘the joy of creation’.

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

Photo from the Doperduin website, ©


‘UK arm sales to Saudi for use in Yemen ruled unlawful’, from Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT)

From CAAT:

‘The Court of Appeal concluded that it was ‘irrational and therefore unlawful’ for the Secretary of State for International Trade to have granted licences without making any assessment as to whether violations of international humanitarian law had taken place.

This historic judgement means that the government must now stop issuing new arms exports licences, and retake all decisions to export arms to Saudi in accordance with the law …’


UK arms sales to Saudi for use in Yemen ruled unlawful

Campaign Against the Arms Trade

Photo from the CAAT website, ©

Voices from the Margins: Church Action on Poverty (CAP)

From CAP:

Voices from the Margins is a place where previously untold stories can be given the space and audience they deserve.

Voices from the Margins is a dedicated blog where people with lived experience of poverty can speak truthfully, free from misrepresentation.

If you have a story to tell, are interested in speaking to those involved, or would like to help us amplify these voices, please get in touch.

Voices from the Margins blog

End Hunger UK Week of Action, 11-18 October, 2019

End Hunger UK is supported by many national organisations, including: Baptists Together; Caritas Social Action Network; Child Poverty Action Group; Church Action on Poverty; the Church of England; the Church of Scotland; First Steps Nutrition; Food Bank As It Is; Food Ethics Council; The Food Foundation; the Independent Food Aid Network; Food Matters; Magic Breakfast; the Methodist Church; Nourish Scotland; Oxfam; Quaker Peace and Social Witness; Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming; The Trussell Trust; and the United Reformed Church …

End Hunger UK Week of Action

Charities urge UK government to uphold principles of international law and justice in face of US so-called ‘Deal of the Century’, from Medical Aid for Palestinians

From MAP:

Statement endorsed by a coalition of UK-based humanitarian, development, human rights and faith organisations working to support the rights and welfare of the Palestinian people (20 May 2019):


Medical Aid for Palestinians

Photo from the MAP website, ©

Book review

A Palestinian Theology of Liberation: The Bible, Justice, and the Palestine-Israel Conflict, by Naim Stifan Ateek, Orbis Books, 2017, reviewed by Dr W. A. Campbell

This is the latest in a series of books by the author, a former Canon of St George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem and a Palestinian who, as a boy, lived through the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948, when he and his family were driven out of their prosperous home in Palestine by Zionist militias in the ethnic cleansing that accompanied the founding of the State of Israel.

Seventy years later, the injustice meted out to the Palestinian people continues, with little sign that the Israeli government and its Christian and Jewish supporters in the West have any real interest in redressing the issue. Ateek attempts to speak the truth, not just to power, but also to all those who have an interest in a just peace in Israel/Palestine. He shows how a non-violent, Christ-centred approach is a real alternative to an illusory security achieved through the barrel of a gun and how the resultant justice will lead to true peace, not just in Jerusalem, but also in the wider world.

Many texts in the Old Testament appear to justify and even glorify the use of violence to expel indigenous peoples from the land. For those Christians who struggle to reconcile these passages with their belief in a universal God of justice and mercy, Ateek offers a radical proposal: we should view all of these biblical texts through the lens of Christ and ask whether the God depicted therein is the God as revealed to us through our Saviour. If these texts do not meet this criterion, then they should not be regarded as ‘the word of God’.

Inevitably, such an approach will make uncomfortable reading for those Christians who argue for the inerrancy of the Bible but it is to be hoped that even they would find some food for thought in this book. For the rest of us, this is an important contribution to our understanding of this complex issue and its resolution.

– Dr W. A. Campbell

A Palestinian Theology of Liberation: The Bible, Justice, and the Palestine-Israel Conflict

Dr Campbell is an elder in the Church of Scotland, a general practitioner, and has been married to a Palestinian for 45 years.



Be still (Psalm 46:10), by Simon de Voil

Many folk will know or remember former Iona Resident Group member Simon de Voil – many will also remember that Simon is a wonderful songwriter/musician.

A beautiful song and video by Simon here: a chance to be still for a moment …


The Bay at the Back of the Ocean, by Kenneth Steven

I come back here brittle and broken,
to be washed up new and rinsed and clean,
with eyes that no longer see
the clutter of what must be done.
To be made pure west again
on days the sea’s moiling and searching,
roaring over beaches in chariots,
beneath the battlefield of the skies.
Then when the light comes, sometimes,
shimmering like a whole shoal of herring,
and the wind stands still, I think –
this is to fill the heart.

From West, by Kenneth Steven, Wild Goose Publications, 2019


Warm God of summer, by member Ruth Burgess

Warm God of summer,
strewer of petals,
ripener of fruits,
delight in us,
revel in us,
mellow us in joy.

– Ruth Burgess, from Friends and Enemies, Wild Goose Publications


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