We were delighted to hear that Irene McKay, a member of Levens Methodist Church, the District Equality, Diversity and Inclusion officer, and member of various District and Connexional Committees would be a recipient of the Maundy money. Royal Maundy takes place every year on Maundy Thursday when the Queen distributes money to pensioners in a service which commemorates Jesus washing the feet of the Apostles at the Last Supper. Recipients are nominated by their local diocese for contributions to their local church and community and in the current circumstances the service itself could not go ahead this year. Instead, the Maundy money was blessed at the Chapel Royal, St James's Palace, before being posted to recipients along with a letter from the Queen.
Reflecting on this honour Irene has written:
Ever since the first communication arrived from Buckingham Palace, I have found it difficult to share the news. The words 'I am not worthy' overwhelmed me at the time and especially on Good Friday when I know each one of us will have those feelings at the heart of what the day means for us. I am writing to you with the sincere belief that each of you is equally worthy and that is why it has been so difficult to share this.
You may be aware that on Maundy Thursday the Methodist President Revd Richard Teal broke the news on his President's Facebook page:
'My good friend Irene McKay has today been honoured for her work to the church and community by receiving the Royal Maundy money from the Queen. Thank you, Irene, and richly deserved.'
I realised that it was then shared widely, and I needed to be in touch with my friends. When the first notification came, I had no idea how I had been chosen and I felt really self-conscious about how to find out. After speaking with the District Chair, I discovered that the Cumbria District Covenant relationship with Carlisle Diocese was the background, with the nomination resulting from liaison between Bishop James and present and previous District Chairs. Their citation to Bishop James was:
'Irene's lifetime of commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, not only in this country, but also in Zimbabwe where she served as a mission partner, has been second to none. She continues to be an advocate for this (for example, she is presently convener of the Cumbria Methodist District 'Being Inclusive' group, but also brings this awareness and principles into her many other church and community commitments). The outworking of Irene's spirituality also prompts her deep commitment to ecumenical participation, and her dedication to social cohesion, both within inner city and rural contexts, which has similarly been outstanding.'
On Maundy Thursday I received a letter from Bishop James which shared the sadness of not being able to be in the service at Westminster Abbey and inviting me, with all in the Diocese who have been recipients this year and last year, to a service on 26th August at St John's Church, Keswick, followed by a luncheon. He also included the link www.royal.uk, where you will find details for this year as well as further information about the history of Royal Maundy.
The significance of the link with Maundy Thursday means so much to me – the words 'maundatum', towel, last supper all connect with our Methodist covenant service, which has been at the heart of my calling and my first communication with the Methodist Missionary Society in January 1968.
I have been so greatly blessed in my life and each of you have been such an important part of that blessing. Thank you so much for the way you have always let me be who God called me to be, with all my unworthiness."