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Soup, bread and crumble, a recipe for success as evensong attendance soar in a Canterbury church

by Kelly Valencia

An innovative Evensong service has grown its attendance from one to 70 in the last few months by offering supper to its churchgoers after the service. 

St Paul without the Walls church in Canterbury has been hosting a monthly Evensong and Supper service that's attracting people aged between ten and 95. 

"The congregation has just blossomed", Bradley Smith, chairman of The Prayer Book Society told Premier. 

"The congregation attending Evensong was tiny, almost non-existent. This great new initiative, it's based on music, food, and the prayer book," he continued. 

The parish uses the service of Evening Prayer in the Book of Common Prayer, the readings are taken from the King James Bible and follows a strict eight-minute rule for sermons. 

The lead pastor, Rev Mark Griffin said they wanted to use a "'back to basics' approach which appeals to all ages". 

When asked about the reasons for the success of the service, Smith said he believes there's "a real longing for traditional worship", even among young people. 

"People often say that young people won't be attracted to traditional worship. That's absolutely not true at all. Lots of young people have discovered the beauty of prayer book worship, particularly the service of Evensong," he added.
The supper typically includes soup, bread and crumble in the winter and on summer evenings it might be quiche with salad, followed by strawberries and cream.

"I think some of the most meaningful and deep conversations that I've had about faith with people have happened in that sort of context sitting around the table. And church is the only place where people from such a wide variety of backgrounds can sit together and eat," Smith concluded. 

Evensong and Supper takes place once a month at 5pm. 

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