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SOUP, BREAD AND CRUMBLE IS A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS AS EVENSONG ATTENDANCES SOAR  IN A CANTERBURY CHURCH image

SOUP, BREAD AND CRUMBLE IS A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS AS EVENSONG ATTENDANCES SOAR IN A CANTERBURY CHURCH

23rd September 2021

Services using the Book of Common Prayer and the King
James Bible have proved popular with all ages says the vicar

A Canterbury parish church in which a 25-strong choir regularly sang Evensong
before a congregation of just one worshipper has seen attendances surge since the
introduction of its innovative new Evensong and Supper services.

With Choral Evensong on the verge of being discontinued in the 12th century church
of St Paul without the Walls in Church Street, churchwarden Michael Keeler-Walker
unveiled his plan for the monthly Evensong and Supper which immediately proved
popular with churchgoers aged between ten and 95.

‘Up to 70 people – including the choir as well as a significant number of teenagers
and young adults – now attend Evensong on the third Sunday of each month and
then enjoy socialising over a light supper in the adjacent hall,’ reports Michael.

‘Our bigger congregations have meant that we have been able to attract a wider
range of guest preachers.’

Simplicity is the key to the success of event, he says.

Evensong starts at 5 pm, so there is no competition from popular Sunday evening
television programmes. Guest preachers attract repeat attendances, helped by the
eight-minute rule for sermons, so the service never exceeds an hour.

‘We opted for a traditional “back to basics” approach which appeals to all ages,’
explains St Paul’s rector, the Rev Mark Griffin. ‘We use the service of Evening Prayer
in the Book of Common Prayer* and the readings are taken from the King James
Bible.

‘Because Evensong-and-Supper takes place just once a month, there is plenty of
time for the choir to learn new musical settings of Choral Evensong and that helps to
maintain a healthy level of interest and attendances. In some cases choir members
have themselves composed the music for a service.’

Supper – which is free of charge – typically includes, soup, bread and crumble in the
winter. On summer evenings it might be quiche with salad followed by strawberries
and cream.

No charge is made for supper but donations are requested. In the past three years
this approach has raised more than £2,000 which has been used to buy items the
church would not otherwise be able to afford. They include new psalters and choir
robes while also enabling the church to make donations to a local homeless charity,
food bank and playgroup.

The choir of St Paul without the Walls in Canterbury is pictured with Prayer Books
and plates – the latter for use at its innovative new post-Evensong supper.

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