The Iona Community is an ecumenical Christian organisation which was founded in 1938 by George MacLeod, then a Church of Scotland parish minister in Govan, Glasgow. George brought together young ministers in training and unemployed craftsmen to rebuild the ancient monastic buildings of the Benedictine Abbey which had lain in ruins since the Reformation. Through this common task they discovered a common life together.
The Iona Community, therefore, was born as a practical response to the needs of people struggling with the challenges of poverty and unemployment in 1930s Glasgow. And out of MacLeod’s perception that the Church no longer spoke to the reality of their lives.
Ever since, the commitment to economic justice and the inclusion of the poorest and most vulnerable in society have been central to the Iona Community’s life and work.
Today this is expressed in many ways; through ministry and service in poor communities throughout Britain and across the world, in advocacy for trade justice, in support for refugees and asylum-seekers and in working with the most vulnerable and marginalised young people on the mainland and in our island centres.
The restored Iona Abbey, originally a medieval Benedictine foundation, welcomes up to 50 guests each week - as well as thousands of pilgrims every day during the summer months.
The Abbey provides neither a retreat house nor conference centre, but offers a unique opportunity to live with people from all over the world and all walks of life. Guests and staff of the community share all aspects of life - meals, daily worship, programme activities, chores and social events in a place which allows them to feel safe in exploring issues that challenge or concern them and to have space to reflect on their lives. Accommodation is mostly in bunk-bedded rooms for two, three, or four or five people. Disabled access is severely limited.
The Abbey buildings are held in trust by a Board of Trustees who have passed on responsibility for their maintenance to the expertise of Historic Scotland with whom the Community has a close working relationship.
Many people who come to Iona return again - and again. George MacLeod described Iona as a "thin place" - only a tissue paper separating the material from the spiritual. To spend some time in such a historic and inspiring setting is to be open to challenge and the exploration of new horizons.
The Iona Community leads daily worship in the Abbey church to which visitors are warmly invited. In addition, there are a number of weekly events on the Islands which are open to all.
The MacLeod Centre
The MacLeod Centre, a spacious, light-filled building, is a short walkfrom the Abbey. The 'Mac' as it is known, has accommodation for approximately 48 guests in spacious rooms for up to five and seven people, cleverly designed to give a degree of privacy as well as fostering community! Guests and staff come from many backgrounds, traditions and countries to experience community life together through sharing in worship, work, activity and relaxation. A major feature of the building is its attractive, well-equipped, north facing craft room.
Worship, concerts and ceilidhs are shared with the guests and staff from the Abbey. Many of the social events take place around the log stove in the 'Mac's' spacious Community Room, which is also used as the main meeting and eating place.
Children of all ages are especially welcome and there is disabled access on the ground floor, with adapted facilities for those with mobility difficulties.
Camas Adventure Centre
Camas offers a unique adventure to all. Many young people and adults have found their visits both memorable and meaningful through discovery and recreation, laughter and conversation, peace and activity coming together in this beautiful place.
Based in old quarrymen's cottages in a remote bay on the Isle of Mull, Camas provides accommodation and hospitality for up to 28 with an emphasis on simple lifestyle and closeness to nature.
As part of the integration of spirituality and work which is at the heart of the Camas and the Iona Community, reflections and daily chores are shared in by both guests and staff together.
Guests and staff get to know each other really well in such an isolated and small-scale living space, and they find that self-reliance and mutual dependence are two sides of the same coin. Living in harmony with the elements is a way of life at Camas.
Food from the garden; energy from the sun and wind for power - accommodation is simple but meets all the basic needs. Recent redevelopments at the centre have provided comfortable sleeping accommodation and separate rooms for Group Leaders; hot showers - depending on power from the wind or sun; environmentally friendly flushing loos; drying room, all add to the enjoyment of staying at Camas.
There are many enjoyable walks in the area. The scenery is beautiful, and there are lovely bays for those who like to swim. Camas bay itself is ideal for learning to Kayak or work together to build a raft. Gardening and peat cutting are two of the other delights on offer.
Iona and Camas, Mull
Island Centres Director
Or Bookings Secretary
Isle of Iona
The Iona Community,
140 Sauchiehall St,
Glasgow G2 3DH.
0141 332 6343.
Scottish Registered Charity No SC0037494