Letter: Praying for the right service

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your correspondents the Rev Simon Reed (Letters, 30 July) and the Rev Dr Stephen Cherry (Letters, 1 August) assert that many ministers of religion render "true and rewarding" funerals and listen "carefully and skilfully" to those arranging funerals.

No doubt this is true in many cases, but the Prayer Book Society often hears complaints that some vicars totally disregard requests made to them for church funerals according to the Book of Common Prayer.

Nor does the problem apply only to funerals. In one parish where a Book of Common Prayer marriage service had been expressly stipulated, the incumbent embarked on an alternative, modern form of service. It is impossible to overstate the distress this caused to members of the families concerned.

It needs to be more widely known that at the "occasional services", ie baptisms, marriages and funerals, it is the legal right of the families concerned to stipulate for a service according to the Book of Common Prayer, or the Alternative Services Book, and the legal duty of the priest to meet their needs. Otherwise, the church is short-changing its customers.

MARGOT THOMPSON

Prayer Book Society

London EC4

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