Friends of Orthodoxy on Iona has been an informal association of Orthodox Christians who honour the name of Saint Columba and undertake week-pilgrimages to Iona and other places of importance in Celtic Christian history. By the grace of God, successful pilgrimages, each involving about 40 people from all over the world, were organised in 2009 (to the west of Ireland), in 2012 (to Mull and Iona) and in 2014 (again to Mull and Iona).
After a discussion about future directions for FOI, it was agreed that we should focus more on making it easier for pilgrims to visit Iona for a duration of their own choosing and participate in Orthodox Christian worship. In several recent years, Orthodox priests have established a de facto presence on the island by renting out a boarding house and holding morning and evening services in Saint Oran’s chapel, with the permission of the building’s steward, Historic Scotland. This experiment has worked well and valuable experience has been acquired. Metropolitan Kallistos has invited Father Augustine McBeth, who is the Orthodox chaplain of Glasgow University, to take over a new role as chaplain of FOI, and in that capacity to explore further opportunities for keeping an Orthodox presence on Iona for part of the year. It was agreed that every effort should be made to maintain good relations with the permanent residents of Iona, with the Iona Community, and with other Christian denominations.
FOI extends its good wishes to all other initiatives aimed at establishing Orthodox Christianity on the west coast of Scotland, although its own focus will continue to be on Iona and the heritage of Saint Columba.