On 9 May the Prayer Book Society held an evening seminar for ordinands from Oxford’s three theological colleges for the first time. The event was hosted by the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Very Rev Canon Professor Martyn Percy, himself a PBS member, and began with Choral Evensong in the cathedral followed by a buffet supper. The title of the event, ‘Old Wine’, was inspired by Luke 5.39: ‘No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better’.
The speakers were the Revd Dr George Westhaver, Principal of Pusey House; the Revd Jonathan Beswick, Vicar of St Barnabas with St Thomas the Martyr, Oxford (whose idea the event was); the Revd Dr Daniel Newman, assistant curate of St John’s, Weymouth; Canon Angela Tilby, Diocesan Canon of Christ Church; and the Revd Dan Hames, assistant curate of St Aldate’s, Oxford (who had recently given a presentation on the Book of Common Prayer at the charismatic ‘New Wine’ conference). The event was overseen by the Revd Mark Stafford, Chaplain of Pusey House, and is intended to be the first of a series of such events, in Oxford and around the country.
The seminar was organised by the PBS’s Churches and Clergy Co-ordinator, John Service, who is working to strengthen links with churches, clergy, and ordinands, and has in recent years been building relationships between the PBS and theological education institutions. It is noticeable that, while the appeal and use of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer skipped several generations of clergy, many of those in their twenties and early thirties now are embracing it enthusiastically. The Prayer Book also has a particular ability to unite people from across different Church traditions, as events such as this demonstrate.
Other current initiatives include presenting every Church of England ordinand with a copy of the Book of Common Prayer at the start of training, supplemented by Using the Book of Common Prayer—A Simple Guide by the Revd Paul Thomas (Church House Publishing). In addition, the Prayer Book Society offers free honorary membership to those ordinands requesting it for the duration of their training. The Society has also recently launched a series of half-hour videos to guide clergy through its most popular services.
For those seeking ‘live’ papers on the Book of Common Prayer, the Prayer Book Society’s Annual Conference takes place at Girton College, Cambridge from Thursday 8 to Saturday 9 September, and offers generous bursaries for ordinands, clergy, and anyone under 30. The speakers include former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Williams of Oystermouth. Full details and booking information are available at www.pbs.org.uk.