THE IONA COMMUNITY RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS
At this time of acute global public health crisis, and taking into account guidance and direction from governmental and public health authorities, the leadership team and Council of the Iona Community have made the following decisions. As an organisation running residential centres, a book and craft shop and a publishing department, these decisions will have huge practical, pastoral and financial implications for many individuals, for members of staff and for the Community as a whole. However, the health and wellbeing of everyone towards whom we have a responsibility must be paramount.
The Abbey will remain closed to residential guests till at least the beginning of July. We will be constantly reassessing the situation in the light of public health and governmental guidelines. The Abbey Bookings Office will be contacting everyone who has already booked to come to Iona during that period.
‘Outside Holiness’: Unfortunately we have had no choice but to cancel ‘Outside Holiness’ – the retreat for Holy Week. We are planning instead to run at least one retreat in October based at the St Columba and those booked on the Holy Week retreat will be able, if they wish, to transfer their booking to this (the St Columba hotel have said they will transfer non-refundable deposits from those booked in there for ‘Outside Holiness’ to the October week to enable people to attend. Please contatct the hotel directly to arrange this)
The Community Shop will close to the general public (as will every other shop on the island with the exception of the Spar shop). We are exploring the possibility of some online trading from the shop.
Historic Environment Scotland are closing all their historic sites to public access. This includes Iona Abbey. The small resident group whose home the Abbey is will continue to pray the Daily Office in the sanctuary, and offer prayers for healing. The Iona Prayer Circle will continue to offer prayer through its dispersed online network of intercessors.
Phone and internet outage on Iona. Due to a lightning strike we currently have limited telephones and internet access in our Welcome Centre Offices.
Abbey Re-opening Event. This has also been postponed, to an as-yet unknown date.
The early season Work Weeks have been cancelled. Thereafter, Camas will remain effectively closed to guests until late May. Camas staff are contacting groups expecting to come to Camas, updating them as appropriate.
Glasgow-based staff, including Wild Goose Publications and the Wild Goose Resource Group, are being enabled to work from home. Contact by email will continue, and this will be the best way to get in touch. The physical office will not be staffed, and the phones will have a recorded message on them, but Glasgow staff will make regular visits to pick up messages and any post.
Wild Goose Resource Group/weeWONDERBOX
All forthcoming events have been postponed, including the Lent Series, Mediterranean Hope and Uncertainty and Hope. When new dates are decided, details will appear on our website, and on the WGRG website. ColumbaFest 2020 has been cancelled.
All official/committee meetings will now move online. Family Group meetings are the responsibility of the members, and we know that many of them are already moving to alternative online ways of meeting and keeping in touch. We are also working on different ways we can sustain the spiritual life of the Community through online postings. Many of our members, for different reasons, will be physically isolating, so it is all the more important that we maintain social solidarity, giving particular thought to how we keep in touch with folk who are not internet users. It’s encouraging to see so much of this already happening.
The AGM and Hallowing Service will not now happen in late May. We will keep you informed about when they will take place.
All job recruitment has been suspended for the time being. The Volunteer Programme has also been suspended. Centre staff will be contacting all those expecting to volunteer.
The recruitment deadline for new Trustees of the Iona Community has been extended until 17 April. Interviews will take place via online methods.
The consequences of these difficult decisions will be huge for our staff. We expect email traffic and phone calls to be overwhelming for the next few weeks as we effectively undo much of what a year’s work has been planning for. Please, please be patient with us as we try to deal with everybody’s queries. Please also know that we will be trying to address long-term financial ramifications, and doing so at a time when the whole country, and indeed, the whole world, is doing the same.
This is a time when we have to lean on the affirmation from our Office, that ‘gathered and scattered, God is with us’.
God our challenger and disturber,
help us to confront
all that makes for death and despair
in our lives, our communities, our world.
May we never lose sight
of the possibility of transformation
and be continually surprised
by people who believe in one another.
Christian and Kathy