PRAYER BOOK’S GROWING POPULARITY DRAWS OTHER DENOMINATIONS
30th November 2016
A parish church in Buckinghamshire is breaking new ground by attracting not only Anglican worshippers of all ages to Book of Common Prayer services but others from the wider Christian community.
‘I regard The Book of Common Prayer as the Gold Standard which enables us to play an ecumenical role in the current age,’ says the Rev Andrew Lightbown, rector of the church of St Laurence, Winslow, who points to its ancient origins.
‘This church has been the spiritual heart of Winslow since it was built in the twelfth century as a minster of St Albans to serve the surrounding villages.
‘These days Choral Evensong and Compline – chanted by candlelight – are among our most popular ecumenical services attended by a congregation which includes local Methodists and Roman Catholics.
‘Our strong choral tradition is supported by a robed choir of up to 30 drawn from around 50 whose ages span almost 80 years. They include a significant number of young people whose music, combined with our emphasis on liturgy, helps to bring Prayer Book services to life.’
Andrew reports that the involvement of so many youngsters encourages their families to attend so the Sunday Eucharist typically attracts around 100 people.
Now he is striving to boost attendances at Evensong with guest preachers drawn from a variety of denominations.
Growth in popularity of The Book of Common Prayer means that, from the start of next year, St Laurence’s will have at least one Prayer Book service every week, including Choral Matins on the fifth Sunday of the months which have one.
As his church is part of the part of the benefice of Winslow with Great Horwood and Addington within the Oxford Diocese, Andrew also has responsibility for the church of St Mary the Virgin, Addington.
Given by the Lords of the Manor to the Knights of St John in order to aid pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem in the twelfth century, the church today celebrates a Choral Eucharist on the fourth Sunday of the month, taking the number of Prayer Book services within the benefice to at least five a month.
Andrew believes that these services – which are attracting worshippers from beyond the bounds of his own parish – have a special appeal to those who, having attended services elsewhere using contemporary forms of worship, feel they have lost something.
He said: ‘Many who have not previously experienced the beauty of Prayer Book worship are pleased to discover some of the forgotten delights to be found in the Anglican treasure box they then come to love.’
- St Laurence, Winslow is the latest among more than 60 churches which have become corporate members of the Prayer Book Society which works to encourage rediscovery and use of the majesty and spiritual depth of the Book of Common Prayer at the heart of the Church of England’s worship.
Benefits of membership range from assistance with understanding of the theological and practical cases for Prayer Book use to a unique online service helping parishes with job vacancies to fill them with clergy who are Prayer Book enthusiasts.
The annual subscription for corporate membership is £50. For more details call 0118 984 2582, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to The Prayer Book Society, The Studio, Copyhold Farm, Lady Grove, Goring Heath, Reading RG8 7RT.