Luton URC member gains MBE in New Year’s Honours

Last Updated on 6 January 2022 by Ann-Marie Nye

David Jonathan, a member of Bury Park United Reformed Church, has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List 2022.

David, known as Johny, serves as Director for both Luton Council of Faiths and Grassroots, a Christian ecumenical organisation which also forms the hub for the Near Neighbours Programme – an initiative which brings people together in Luton that are religiously and ethnically diverse, funding and supporting local community projects.

He received the honour for his work.

“I feel humbled and honoured to be included in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List 2022 and to receive the MBE for services to community cohesion and interfaith relations in Luton, but I would like to share this with people of Luton and many others who have supported and enabled the work over the years,” Johny said.

“John Donne’s phrase ‘no man is an island’ is a poignant reminder that human beings do badly when isolated but thrive if they are part of a community. There is nothing that I could have done all by myself. ‘I am because we are’, as the African Philosophy of Ubuntu says. So, while I shall be ever awed by, and thankful for, this honour bestowed upon me, I also remain grateful to the people and diverse communities of Luton, my past and present co-workers, colleagues, volunteers, trustees and partner agencies which include Council for World Mission and the United Reformed Church who invited me initially for a four-year term in 2001 to develop inter faith work in Luton.”

Johny added that it is with a sense of gratitude and privilege that in 2021 he also marked 20 years of his community work with Grassroots and Luton Council of Faiths and ten years with Near Neighbours Programme.

“During these years, the focus of my work has always been on strengthening peace building and reconciliation by appropriate mediation and constant relationship building across Luton’s diverse communities and individuals of faith or of no particular faith affiliation,” he added.

Including the URC Thames North Synod, Johny thanked three other denominations for their consistent interfaith support. These include: The Church of England St Albans Diocese, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Northampton, and the Methodist Church Beds, Essex and Herts District.

“Long may our work continue to inspire communities to stand together in solidarity with one another and send a strong message of defiance to all those who seek to divide in the name of race, religion or ethnicity, by promoting prejudice and hate.”

In June last year, Luton Council of Faiths won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS).