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RESURGENCE IN USE OF THE PRAYER BOOK ATTRACTS NEW WORSHIPPERS image

RESURGENCE IN USE OF THE PRAYER BOOK ATTRACTS NEW WORSHIPPERS

24th May 2019

Use of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer for services in parish churches around the country
is proving to be the key to attracting worshippers.

Growing numbers of worshippers of all ages who only now are discovering the Prayer Book
– or rediscovering it after years of attendance at services using contemporary language –
are turning to churches which maintain the ancient traditions.

‘While modern worship does appeal to some people, we know of others who don’t come to
church because they find it off-putting’, says Prudence Dailey, chairman of the Prayer Book
Society.

She adds: ‘Interestingly, this is often the case with men: although significantly outnumbered
by female churchgoers, they seem to be disproportionately drawn to the BCP and are more
likely to feel that contemporary worship is not for them.’

According to the PBS, the Prayer Book can draw more people into a church outside their
own parish.

Among those reporting the ‘magnet effect’ of the BCP is the twelfth-century church of St
Thomas of Canterbury in the Somerset village of Cothelstone on the edge of the Quantocks.

‘Half of our congregation are resident in other parishes but come to us for services because
they prefer Thomas Cranmer’s words to the bland modern language used in some
churches,’ reports the churchwarden David Dacey. ‘We have never deviated from use of the
Prayer Book for all our services, including Matins or Holy Communion on Sundays.’

Enthusiasm for the BCP in Cothelstone is underlined by the fact that four members of the
congregation have become members of the PBS and the church itself recently joined the
society as a corporate member.

‘St Thomas of Canterbury is the latest of many churches which demonstrate the appeal of
the BCP by attracting worshippers from other parishes,’ reports John Service, the PBS
churches and clergy coordinator. ‘Other corporate members which do so range from St
James Garlickhythe in the City of London to St Michael’s in Shotwick, a tiny agricultural
hamlet on the Wirral peninsular, and St Clement’s, Powderham, close to Powderham Castle
near Exeter.’

They include also: the Thames-side Chelsea Old Church in Cheyne Walk, London; St Mary’s
in the village of Wycliffe on the south bank of the River Tees in County Durham; St Leonard
and St James in the Oxfordshire village of Rousham; St James the Great in the village of
Gawsworth near Macclesfield; St Mary and All Saints, Chesterfield and St Laurence’s in
Winslow, Buckinghamshire.

In addition to churches, corporate members of the PBS include two theological colleges – St
Augustine’s in Canterbury and Sarum College in Salisbury – as well as several schools and
businesses which together bring to the total to almost 100.

PHOTO-CAPTION: St Thomas of Canterbury in the Somerset village of Cothelstone

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