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Feather's Miscellany: An Annscroft Prayer Book

John Waddington-Feather tells how a prayer book containing the old Aglican liturgy helped to heal a Russian friend.

About a year ago, I was asked by a Russian writer, Sergey Streltsov, with whom I’ve corresponded for some time, if I would supply him and his writers’ group with one of our old Anglican 1662 Prayer Books. It was an unusual request, for as far as I know they are all Russian Orthodox worshippers; they are also multi-lingual and deeply religious. Several of them come from old aristocratic families with titles like ‘count’ and ‘prince’, which were banned under the Communists but seem to be coming back. Many of them were conscripted into the old Soviet army, where religion was frowned on, to do five years National Service.

Sergey, my friend, said that his group loved reading the old Anglican liturgy especially the Collects which they use for their personal devotions. The Book of Common Prayer which they’d had and passed round for years (clandestinely I imagine) was falling apart and they couldn’t obtain a new one in Russia.

I’d given my own copy away so I approached Anne Kent, churchwarden at Annscroft Church, who’d kept some of the old Prayer Books stored away in church when we stopped using them and changed to Common Worship. She let me have a copy with ‘Annscroft Church’ written boldly on the fly-leaf and I duly sent it off to Moscow. I received a very gracious e-mail back from Sergey when it arrived, thanking me warmly.

He’s recently been very ill in hospital, but now he’s out and recovering, he e-mailed me to say how much the Annscroft Prayer Book meant to him when he was so poorly. He’d read it regularly to bolster his spirit, and values it more than ever now that he is recovered. So it’s worth pondering how a ‘redundant’ little Prayer Book from the tiny hamlet of Annscroft helped in the healing of a very sick man over a thousand miles away in Russia, and is being used regularly by a group of Russian writers in their personal prayer-life..

God does work in very mysterious ways, doesn’t He?

Revd John Waddington-Feather ©


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