Northern Ireland

Elvis 'shakes up' St Canice's Church service

The church invited Elvis impersonator Andy Rogers to lead the service through the music of 'The King' Image copyright BBb
Image caption The church invited Elvis impersonator Andy Rogers to lead the service through the music of The King

Almost 200 people gathered at St Canice's Church, Eglinton, on Sunday night for a rather unusual service.

The Church of Ireland parish invited Elvis impersonator Andy Rogers to lead the service through the music of The King.

American flags adorned the altar as Rev Paul Hoey took to his feet to encourage the congregation to "sing, dance, clap and enjoy the music".

Most of all he asked them "to be open to the message of the songs".

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Media captionElvis Presley songs performed at St Canice's church

The opening song eased the audience in with Swing Down Sweet Chariot blending spiritualism and Elvis.

People had come from as far afield as Belfast and Dungannon to enjoy the night, and all denominations and religions were welcomed.

Rev Hoey, who organised the event near Londonderry, said the service - the first of its kind in Northern Ireland - was "partly an Elvis gig and partly an act of worship".

Image caption 'Elvis' got the congregation all shook up

"Last year I heard Andy Rodgers sing at a concert," he said. "As I listened it began to dawn on me how many of the songs related to the message of the Church."

There was an excited if hesitant atmosphere among congregants.

"At first, I thought it was a bit unusual but I'm looking forward to it now," said one parishioner.

The Elvis-inspired service featured the rock'n roll hits Blue Suede Shoes, All Shook Up as well as gospel tracks Take My Hand Precious Lord and How Great Thou Art.

Upon seeing the church was packed to the rafters - and there actually were rafters - Reverend Hoey indicated that the church could maybe repeat the event, but change the theme.

"It's proven so popular, who knows what's next? Maybe Johnny Cash."