The Salisbury Branch of the Prayer Book Society held its recent meeting in the sumptuous surroundings of Bowood House.
COVID prevented the attendance of the Earl and Countess of Kerry, as well as the branch Chairman and Vice Chairman. So, proceedings were ably conducted by the branch’s longstanding Treasurer, Ian Woodhead.
Coming towards the end of his second year in office, PBS Chairman Bradley Smith was the guest of honour.
He identified three eras over the half-century since the foundation of PBS.
The first was one of widespread clerical hostility to the Prayer Book, which was seen as antiquated and doomed to disappearance; the second was one of ignorance, when many clergy were simply unfamiliar with it; the third phase, which is that of the present era, is one with signs of a revival of interest among ordinands and younger clergy.
A goal of the Society should be that people of all ages come to life in Christ through a Prayer Book service in every parish.
Smith cited an example in Middleton in Chichester Diocese, where a new young priest had brought the number of BCP services from one a month, to weekly at 8 am on Sunday plus Feast Days and a weekly Choral Evensong.
They are “done beautifully” and have rapidly come to be loved people, and the congregation is growing. The Society has had to donate two separate consignments of BCPs to cope.
New Evensongs are popping up all across the country, attracting congregations of young adults in particular. This had fed into a renewal of the society’s branches, especially in the North and Midlands.
There are also signs of deeper commitment than mere church attendance emerging. A father in his thirties recently visited PBS HQ at Copyhold Farm looking advice about praying every day from the BCP with his young children. The Society was able to give advice about how to break the offices up into manageable and memorable chunks.
The work of the Prayer Book Society is intensifying, Bradley told his audience. Work is being done to promote use of the Prayer Book with choristers and in prisons. PBS is also hoping to fund a Prayer Book missioner in a diocese. A new PBS Committee for Children and Families is being set up and will include one representative of the National Society; among other things, it will create catechetical resources using BCP material.
Bradley concluded by noting that a BCP Communion Service returned for the first time in many years at General Synod this February. It was the best attended service of session’s acts of worship.
The talk was followed by one of the Salisbury branch’s deservedly legendary afternoon teas. The day concluded with Evensong in the beautiful Bowood private chapel led the Revd Linda Carter, Team Vicar of the Marden Vale Team.
The Revd Gerry Lynch