Iona Community Leader, Ruth Harvey, reflects on mission, contemplation and action.
This month, I have been surrounded by Iona Community loved ones – past, present and future.
The unveiling of the newly-refound mural, Christ Feeding his People, at Govan Old Parish Church offered a glimpse not only of the rich history of our movement, but of the radical, inclusive community we seek to be every day. On the same day, another work of art was refound. A wooden cross, made on Iona from old piano keys, and taken by a past volunteer in the 1970s to their home in the Caribbean, was put into my hands for safekeeping on the death of that volunteer.
These two magnificent works of art, one on public display, one quietly, privately shared, each tell the story of the power of human relationships at the heartbeat of the Gospel and of our life in community. In work and worship, gathered and scattered, now and always, God is with us!
The inaugural ‘Iona Community Lecture’ was given this year by Alison Phipps and the ‘Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts’ (RILA) team from Glasgow University on the theme of ‘These Stones will Shout Aloud.’ On the same day that Members heard the news of the death of long-time Member, peace activist and refugee campaigner Sally Beaumont, we were reminded of the power we have to move mountains, to roll away the rocks of shameful government policy through life-changing hospitality, creative campaigning, advocacy and education on behalf of all.
The AGM of the Iona Community, held as a hybrid event from Govan, confirmed indicators of financial stability for the charity thanks to the huge generosity of so many in membership, along with rigorous budget control by staff, and grant awards. We also heard about Iona Community Learn, an online space to gather the Community’s resources, publishing, training and equipping programmes. We hope to bring our volunteering programme and our New Members Programme under this umbrella in 2022/23. More news will emerge over the next months.
Plans are afoot to retrofit the MacLeod Centre as a youth centre focussed on climate justice and sustainable living. Building on wisdom gleaned from the Mac Options Group and the Abbey Capital Appeal team, work will begin over the next months to scope the build, establish rigorous fundraising systems, and clarify the radical vision. Members will be invited to reflect on the vision and to share feedback to the Mac Advisory Group.
At the Council meeting in May Trustees approved these slightly shortened strategic objectives which will guide our work and our witness over the next period. Please hold staff and trustees ‘in the light’ as we work to these goals.
We said goodbye in June to Callum Orr as Executive Director. We will miss Callum for the energy and rigour he brought to the renovation of core internal and database systems which are so crucial to our ongoing development. The post of Executive Director has been advertised with interviews scheduled for September 12th. Please help in this recruitment process by considering if this is a post for you, or by passing the link on to networks and individuals who may be interested.
Volunteering options at the Abbey are still open. Please do consider applying to join the remarkable team on Iona.
At ColumbaFest, the urban festival co-ordinated by the Wild Goose Resource Group, I was part of a panel remembering how it felt to express faith through mission in my twenties. Alongside me were older and younger contributors for whom life’s landscape is very different. Despite the differences, a golden thread bound us together – a thread which shines with a passion for justice for the most marginalised, and reminds us to reclaim the radical language of faith for today. As I was the preparing for the panel, I remembered the songs I sang in my 20s, written for the most part by John Bell and Graham Maule and sung by the Wild Goose Worship Group. The pair wrote songs which linked faith to action, giving me permission to sing my faith loud and clear – an experience of outreach and inreach, of mission if you like! These songs from around the world, full of praise and possibility, still encourage me to keep singing, keep walking – ‘for the journey is long.’
With love, solidarity and peace,
Iona Community Leader