THE Prayer Book Society has announced that Prudence Dailey is stepping down after 12 years in the chair. It is beginning the search for a successor to take over from September next year.
Miss Dailey’s involvement with the society, which promotes the continued use of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, goes back 30 years. After working regionally, she was one of its first trustees when it became a limited company in 2003, and was appointed deputy chairman in 2006.
During her time in office, attendance at the society’s annual conference has grown, helped by bursaries to fund the attendance of under 30s. The society is also attracting more younger members.
She spoke this month about a key achievement: recruiting newer clergy to the use of the Prayer Book. “At the time when the Prayer Book Society was established in the early ’70s, 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 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 happened.”
The Prayer Book Society has worked on its relationship with theological colleges, and provides free resources for ordinands.
“We found that the majority of theological colleges and courses were prepared to open their doors to us,” Miss Dailey said. “They are increasingly appreciative of our offer of help and free resources. . .
”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.”
The task of the next person in the chair has been set, to a degree, by a resolution passed by the trustees, the “2030 vision”: “People of all ages finding life in Christ through a growing Prayer Book service in every benefice.”
Miss Dailey described the Prayer Book as “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.”