Photo Credit: The Prayer Book Society
There may be confusion about how martyred King Olaf’s name should be spelt; but there is no dispute that the book store that bears his name in Chichester is housed in the oldest building in the West Sussex city. The book store, owned by an ecumenical trust, has become the first book retailer to join the Prayer Book Society, a charitable group that exists to “encourag rediscovery and use of the majesty and spiritual depth of the Book of Common Prayer at the heart of the Church of England’s worship.”
St Olav’s Bookshop is owned by the St Olave’s Trust, an ecumenical group which includes representatives from a number of local churches, including the city’s cathedral, Roman Catholics, Baptists, free and independent churches as well as individuals from various Church of England congregations. Operating since the 1950s, the book store is housed in a church built 20 years after the Norwegian King Olaf was martyred in 1030. The church is closed for normal worship but remains consecrated and holds one service each year – a Eucharist on St Olav's Day (29 July).
The Prayer Book Society has described the signing up of the first book retailer as a corporate member as “a new chapter in the history of the PBS”.
The Prayer Book – the Book of Common Prayer – “is central to our mission to provide books and resources for Christians of all backgrounds and traditions”, St Olav’s Bookshop manager, Bradley Smith, said. “The ecumenical outlook is fundamental to the ethos of our bookshop.
“As we keep a full range of BCPs in stock – as well as PBS materials, including CDs – we felt that signing up for corporate membership was a natural step.”
The bookshop becomes the second business to join the PBS as a corporate member after the Isle of Wight-based Gresham Books, which specialises in the production of bespoke books of hymns and prayers for schools, colleges and churches.
“We have launched a drive to increase interest in the Book of Common Prayer beyond Anglican churches and their worshippers”, John Service, the PBS Clergy and Churches Coordinator, said. “In the past seven years our corporate membership has grown by more than 40 per cent and includes 100 churches as well as several schools. Now we are keen to expand our membership to include other organisations which are supportive of our work.”