Sounds of Iona – June 2023

Rev Kathy Kelly precedes over communion at Iona Abbey

Each year in May the Iona Community shares a report with the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland through a Board (made up of Members of the Iona Community and representatives from a range of Christian denominations). The Convener of the Board, Tom Gordon, and the Leader, Ruth Harvey, share an update of highlights in the last year. The theme of the GA 2023 was ‘Remember Who You Are.’ What follows is an extract of what they shared in Edinburgh on 24th May 2023.


Remember who you are.

In this time of rapid change, ‘we remember who we are’ when we stand in solidarity with all faith leaders offering hope, vision and models of Jesus-centred actions for love and compassion in a world sorely in need of both.

The Iona Community remains passionate about the interface between contemplation and action; dedicated to working for peace with justice; focussed on the needs of the poorest and most marginalised in society; engaged in uplifting authentic voices for worship. We bring a particular focus, developed over these last 9 decades, on the renewal of worship, on the eradication of poverty, and on work for peace.

The escalation of war in central Europe along with the ongoing ‘Nakba’ or catastrophe in Palestine remind us that the peace to which Jesus calls us is a costly peace asking those of us with power to share it, those of us with hope to articulate it, those of us with rage to focus it. We stand in solidarity with peace makers everywhere.

You can join in our prayers for peace using this vigil hosted by the Israel Palestine Common Concern Network to mark the 75th anniversary of the Nakba:

Contemplation in Community

We remember who we are when we stand in solidarity with all people of goodwill who yearn for a life of contemplation and action. There is an increase in interest and expertise within our membership in reflective practices that, through giving time and space for contemplation and prayer, bring renewed focus to action for justice.

A time of collective stillness within a busy central London park for some of our Members in advance of The Big One climate action march around parliament by tens of thousands of people recently is a powerful testimony to this yearning for the action/contemplation balance.

Our Contemplation and Community week and Stillness in Community weeks at Iona Abbey in November tap into the wisdom of contemplation with action.

Renewal of worship

Leaning on the remarkable body of work by John Bell, Graham Maule, colleagues in the Wild Goose Resource Group, and by many others within the wider Iona Community, our Trustees have affirmed an ambitious programme of worship renewal work for the next period, with a focus on training in leading congregational song; on rigour and creativity in our use of language; and on equipping and resourcing local groups in the art and craft of worship leadership. In all of this we will continue to partner with others and build on existing wisdom to support the tender growth of a church, ‘always in need of reform.’

As William Bridges and others say in their work on transformation and change, leading through times of change takes courage and vision. Our hope is that as we remember who we are, and stand in solidarity together, we can catch that kingfisher splash of colour darting across our vision – that glimmer of hope in the midst of so much that is tough.

You can read more about the Iona Community report and watch some of the videos shared as part of it here. 


Image: Rev Kathy Kelly presides over an act of remembrance, communion, at Iona Abbey. Credit: Iona Community/ B. Forsyth

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