Remembering Murdoch MacKenzie (23.2.1938 – 3.2.2015) by Eley McAinsh
If you ‘Google’ Murdoch MacKenzie you will find a number of tributes and obituaries which detail his life and give some sense of the man and the impact he had wherever he went. From his Glasgow roots and childhood in Birkenhead, to study at Oxford, marriage to Anne, a doctor, membership of the Iona Community, missionary service with the Church of Scotland in India, ordination into the Church of South India, ministry in Glenrothes, Runcorn, Birmingham, and finally, from 1996, to Milton Keynes, where he served as Ecumenical Moderator.
It was in this last post that I knew Murdoch. He was on the interview panel when I was appointed Director of the Living Spirituality Network and he oversaw my work until he retired in 2003, and moved back, with Anne, to ‘God’s own country’, to Connel in Argyll.
He was highly committed to the work of LSN and always supportive, encouraging, and in the very best of ways, challenging and provocative. Even after he retired he kept in touch, and I know that he and Anne always remembered the Network in general and me in particular in their prayers.
At the services to celebrate his life, held simultaneously in Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh and the Church of the Holy Cross in Milton Keynes, family, friends and colleagues queued to pay tribute to an outstanding and inspirational man. I have much for which to thank Murdoch, and will always remember him with fondness and great respect.
Two memories of him, in particular, will stay with me. Our first LSN Gathering after I joined the network in 2002 was held in the Wesley Memorial Chapel in Oxford, with Frances Young as the keynote speaker. Murdoch sent greetings and apologies – he and Anne were unable to attend as they were hosting eight Masai warriors for the weekend.
The second memory is of our final Gathering, on 21st April 2012. He and Anne travelled all the way down from Connel to London for the event and he gave a brief, but moving talk. At the end of his reflection, in an act I never saw coming, he called me up to join him and presented me with a shimmering brocade shawl – a beautiful golden ‘Ponnadai’ from his beloved India. I will treasure the gift, and the memory of the giver, always.
An extract from Murdoch Mackenzie’s talk at the final gathering of the Living Spirituality Network in April 2012 can be found here – www.livingspirit.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/lsn_final_gathering.pdf.
Eley McAinsh is the former Director of the Living Spirituality Network, the predecessor of LivingSpirituality.