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Monday, 4 March, 2002, 12:00 GMT
Iona Community chooses female Rev
Iona Abbey
Iona Abbey is a popular tourist attraction
A woman is to head up an historic Christian community based on a tiny Scottish island for the first time.

The Rev Kathy Galloway will take up the seven-year post as leader of the Iona Community in the summer.

The 49-year-old is being elevated to the position after winning a ballot of its members.

The leader co-ordinates the activities of the community, which was founded in 1938 by the Very Rev George MacLeod as an ecumenical Christian group.

I am a little nervous, but I'm looking forward to it also

Rev Kathy Galloway

The religious group rebuilt the monastic quarters of a medieval abbey on the island, which lies just off Mull, on the west coast of Scotland.

Currently it has around 240 members who are all committed to daily prayer, sharing their time and money, and campaigning on peace and justice issues.

The tiny island is only one mile wide and 3.5 miles long and is now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.

Every summer it attracts thousands of tourists.

Ms Galloway, who was born in Dumfries and has been a member of the community for around 25 years, admitted to having some nerves about her new role.

She said: "I am a little nervous, but I'm looking forward to it also."

Iona Abbey
The community was established in 1938

Describing the group, she said: "It's about being part of a community that is committed to trying to live out and practise the gospel in a contemporary culture.

"It is very strongly committed to justice and peace issues, and reconciliation, in a way that overcomes the ring fencing of religion in our society.

"It sees the practice of one's faith as a way of life, rather than a particular set of beliefs.

"We have a number of things that are core commitments; one of them is prayer, one is engaging in peace and justice issues, and another is accounting to each other for how we use our money, how we set priorities and express our values."

See also:

17 Oct 00 | Scotland
Islanders hold bridge talks
17 Sep 99 | Scotland
New dawn for 'home' of Christianity
15 Mar 99 | Education
Reprieve for Iona's school
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