One of the great privileges in my role as Leader is the opportunity to meet with Members locally, to come to learn about your passions and your concerns, and your expertise. So I was delighted to stay with Peter and Melia Cope recently and to take part in a gathering of ‘Ludlow Under Pressure’, part of the wider Churches Together Around Ludlow network. The focus of our time was on ‘building a more just society.’ With the backdrop of the Beatitudes to root us, we explored among other things what it means for us in Europe, and in the UK in particular, to be part of a ‘european community’ while we wrestle with the implications of having being removed from the ‘European Union.’
This was focused for me in October as I had the delight to represent the Iona Community, along with our Iona Warden Catriona Robertson, at the General Assembly of Oikosnet Europe. A network of lay communities and academies across Europe, the Iona Community was a member in the 1990s. We re-join now at a time of political disintegration in Europe, the rise of right-wing political movements, a cost-of living crisis, a rise in violence and war not only in Europe but across the globe, and the ongoing global climate catastrophe (Malaga, where we were, has not had rain for 2 years).
To meet with our colleagues from Greece, Austria, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Belarussia, Czech, Ukraine, Russia, Spain and more was a privilege and a reminder of the european community to which we belong. Many of the academies and centres represented were birthed after the second world war, as a response to disintegration and destruction. I was particularly delighted to meet Lucia Leonardo, Director of the Agape Ecumenical Centre in northern Italy. Founded out of the rubble of the second world war, their resident team, sharing a common life in community, host youth camps all year round. They remain a beacon of hope and solidarity for us in these uncertain times. The two centres hosting us in Malaga, Los Rubios and Lux Mundi, are also beacons of light, offering a sanctuary for prayer and stillness while advocating for the rights of refugees and migrants and offering shelter to women rescued from modern day sex-slavery.
A further highlight this month is that I am delighted to confirm that four of our Camas Staff, Eilidh McMillan, Emma Lowe, Davie Johnstone and Cat Muckart are moving to Glasgow for four months to form the first of our Mac Houses. They will be working on our behalf, focussing on living together in community, supporting young people through the local churches in Maryhill where they will be based, and following up groups and individuals who have come to our centres over this last year, with a particular focus on supporting our Unlocked partners. They’ll all move back to Camas in the spring of 2023 to join the rest of the team there for the season. Thank you to everyone in the Glasgow area who has offered support as we furnish two modest flats for the team. We’ll let them settle in and then bring you more updates from this work as it progresses.