The Iona Community

Chris Gidden gave a talk at the St Mary’s Ladies Group about the history of the Iona Community and her own involvement with them.

Around 550AD Columba travelled to an island of granite rock outcrop later to be called the Isle of Iona. The monastic order that Columba organised was pastoral, and the seat of power was with the abbot in the monastery. This suited the Celts’ pastoral economics. Celtic spirituality was centred on the ascetic discipline of peregrinatio – wandering or pilgrimage “seeking the place of one’s resurrection.” 

The settlement on Iona survived for some time and was rebuilt after several marauding attacks by the Nordic raids.1208 saw the Benedictine set up a more substantial monastery buildings in stone which survived for several centuries, then decayed after the Reformation from total neglect.

In the 1800’s with the organisation of the Scottish church Iona became a parish. The Lord of the Isles the Duke of Argyll supported the restoration of the Abby Church, by 1910 the sanctuary restoration was completed and gifted to the nation as a place of any Christian worship.

The WW1 veteran cum the clergyman from Govan felt that priests needed further training to communicate well with the working parishioners so together in summer months to rebuild the whole of the complex that was completed in 1965. Those who carried out this work from 1938 to 1965 formed the beginnings of the Iona Community with George Macleod as Leader. The Iona Community’s remit of rebuilding was completed in 1969 a revised remit to find new ways to touch the hearts of all and now included female members.

Today there are around 280 Members from 138 Christian denominations held together by the community rule of: Daily prayer and reading the bible; sharing and accounting for our use of resources money and time; and action for justice and peace and the integrity of creation.

Chris Gidden

Please visit for more information about the community. 
Details of an event this Sunday in London featuring members of the Iona Community is given below – all welcome to attend!