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17th October 2019

The trustees of the Prayer Book are seeking a new chairman following the announcement
that Prudence Dailey is to step down in September next year after more than 12 years in the

Prudence, whose involvement with the PBS regionally and nationally spans 30 years, was
one of the first trustees of the society when it became a limited company in 2003. She was
appointed deputy chairman in 2006.

Her achievements over the years include the introduction of major changes to the PBS
annual conference programme resulting in significant increases in attendances as it
continues to grow and develop. By introducing a bursary scheme under Prudence’s
leadership, the society has helped clergy, ordinands and young people aged under 30 to
attend the conference each year.

She also oversaw the appointment of the society’s first churches and clergy co-ordinator
who has successfully built relationships with clergy, ordinands and theological colleges and
courses, as well as increasing the number of churches and other organisations becoming
corporate members of the society. In addition she supervised the hiring of a PR consultancy
to increase awareness of the PBS and its activities.

In recent years the PBS has benefited from growing numbers of younger people joining the
society to balance the decline in older members.

‘Many of them are discovering the Prayer Book for the first time and embracing it
enthusiastically,’ reports Prudence whose love of the BCP goes back to her childhood.

She said: ‘I grew up in a church which used a mixture of BCP and contemporary services. As a child I was initially attracted to the beauty of the language, as well as the sense of the
words resounding down the ages; but I soon came to realise that the significance of the BCP
is not only linguistic and cultural, but also theological.

‘The Prayer Book is the official doctrinal foundation of the Church of England and the
cornerstone of the distinctive Anglican way. Precisely because of its antiquity, it transcends
whatever happen to be the fads and fallacies of the moment, as well as the whims of the
clergy taking the service!

‘Worshipping with the BCP, I sense that I am standing on solid ground.’

Asked about the PBS’s main achievement under her chairmanship, Prudence described it as
the ‘strategic focus on Prayer Book churches, particularly on clergy and ordinands.’
She explained: ‘At the time when the PBS was established in the early ’seventies the
fashionable view was to regard the BCP as passé while liturgical reform was being promoted
throughout the Church of England.

‘Many clergy were emerging from training convinced that, despite the unwillingness of PCCs
(Parochial Church Councils) and congregations to do so, modernising the services to make
them more “relevant” was the key to reversing the decline in church attendances and
attracting younger people into church.

‘Hindsight shows that, like many social experiments, this failed utterly; it is much easier to
drive out existing congregants than to encourage new ones in and that is exactly what

By the time Prudence was first elected as PBS chairman, ‘contemporary’ services had
already largely displaced the BCP as the main form of worship in most churches.
Simultaneously, the church was embracing the idea of diversity in worship and this was
reinforced in Common Worship, introduced in 2000 as the successor to the Alternative
Service Book.

‘There was no longer any systematic inclination to do away with remaining BCP services but
pressures on the curriculum meant that trainee clergy were still not being taught much about
the Prayer Book,’ says Prudence.

‘The PBS had to evolve to find a new sense of direction and purpose in the new
environment, and we concluded that the way to do this was by connecting with clergy,
ordinands and those churches that still had significant BCP elements in their worship.

‘At the same time, we found that the majority of theological colleges and courses were
prepared to open their doors to us. They are increasingly appreciative of our offer help and
free resources, and we are open equally to all strands of churchmanship within the Church
of England.

‘As a result of this focus, we have begun attracting new, young clergy and ordinands to our
ranks, and a few churches are even beginning to reintroduce BCP services where there had
been none for several decades.’

Asked what advice she would give to the next chairman of the PBS, Prudence said: ‘I’m
hoping that my successor will develop and renew the society’s strategy to take the campaign
for the Book of Common Prayer on to the next level.

‘While not wishing to interfere with that, I would advise the new chairman never to forget that
most of the work of the PBS at national and branch level is carried out by volunteers who
aren’t obliged to do anything they don’t want to do, but will often do an enormous amount if
they feel genuinely supported, valued and appreciated.’

With regard to the greatest challenges and opportunities faced by the PBS in the years
ahead she added: ‘The PBS board of trustees recently has adopted this 2030 vision: “People
of all ages finding life in Christ through a growing Prayer Book service in every benefice.”

‘For that vision to be achieved there will need to be at least one regular BCP service as part
of the overall mix of worship in every benefice, and these services will need to be a nexus of
spiritual and numerical growth.

‘In addition, the PBS is committed to the development of a small number of churches around
the country as “centres of influence” for the BCP. Ideally these will be in university towns and
other significant towns and cities. They will use the BCP for most or all services and will
have families and young people attending Prayer Book worship.’

Prudence explained that the key to achieving this will be to facilitate the marriage of
appropriate churches, when vacancies occur, with clergy who share that vision with PCC

‘My hope is that such churches will act as exemplars of the Prayer Book tradition in its purest
form, as well as being a source of vocations to the ministry, and possibly of academic
scholarship,’ she said.

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