Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Iona Community report

The report of the Iona Community was delivered by Stewart Smith, Acting Convener of the community. Mr. Smith started his address by thanking the work of Rev. Kathy Galloway as former Leader of the Iona Community as wishing her every success in her new role as head of Christian Aid. Mr. Smith then introduced Peter Macdonald, the current leader of the community. Mr Smith told the Assembly that “change is possible” and that he encounters this often through the work of the Iona community, where people that come on retreat often speak of being in Iona as a transformational experience. This transformation is available not just for those going to Iona on pilgrimage, but also to people in more difficult situations.

Mr Smith then described the work of the Jacob’s Project. This is a project that befriends young re-offenders as they come out of jail. Befrienders meet the young people when they come out of prison and walk with them as they make a successful transition into society through support, advice and friendship. He quoted the words of a young man who has benefited from the programme “Without the Jacob’s Project I would have come out of Jail in a box. Nobody gives a monkeys when you come out of prison.” Eight young people are now settled into ordinary life, with either jobs or a place in an educational establishment. All of them had been befriended and supported by the Jacob’s project. Nothing is beyond the transforming power of God’s love” stated Mr. Smith.

The leader of the community then told the Assembly that membership to the community is not for life but must be renewed periodically and that members make a transparent account of the use of their personal funds in front of small house groups. This is to honour the commitment that “you only keep what you need to live on. To live simply, and to make an offering of the rest to the work of the Church is a priviledge” he concluded. The discussion that followed was evidence of the fondness and admiration felt by the Assembly for the work of the Iona Community. Numerous testimonies of people involved within the Jacob’s project were offered as well as fond accounts of retreats spent on the island.

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