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USE OF THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER BOOSTS CHURCH ATTENDANCES ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT image

USE OF THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER BOOSTS CHURCH ATTENDANCES ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT

3rd February 2021

A church on the Isle of Wight has seen a marked increase in its congregations since
adopting the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) for all of its services.

Mentioned in the Domesday book, the 11th-century church of St Michael the
Archangel in Shalfleet – a village located between Yarmouth and Newport – is the
first church on the island to join the Prayer Book Society (PBS) as a corporate
member.

The church’s decision to join the PBS – which encourages rediscovery and use of the
majesty and spiritual depth of the BCP at the heart of the Church of England’s
worship – was prompted by churchwarden Nicholas Oulton’s visit to the society’s
stand at the national school chaplains conference at Liverpool Hope University.

Mr Oulton was keen for the church to join following his decision to make his
publishing company, Gresham Books Ltd, the Isle of Wight’s first commercial
corporate member of the society in 2019.

‘Since St Michael’s took the decision to expand use of the Prayer Book from Matins
only to embrace all services the church has seen a significant increase in
attendances,’ reports Mr Oulton.

‘The size of our congregations rose from around 12 to around 30 worshippers prior to
the Covid lockdown and we are confident that they will return once the pandemic is
over. Most of our regular churchgoers are in the 50 to 86 age group and we now
welcome friends and visitors who travel to our church from across the Isle of Wight.’

Mr Oulton believes that many are drawn by the nostalgia and beauty of the Prayer
Book language as well as its theology.

‘Recently this has been captured in a series of videos filmed at the church, shown on
YouTube,’ he explains. ‘Because we are unable to welcome people into the church at
the moment, we have been filming the services and posting them up on YouTube
instead.’

External view of the church of St Michael the Archangel in Shalfleet on
the Isle of Wight.

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