Sunday service ‘all shook up’ as Elvis enters Derry church building

A young Elvis Presley.
A young Elvis Presley.

The songs of Elvis Presley are to form the basis of a forthcoming service with a difference as the traditional Sunday ceremony at a Derry church gets “all shook up”.

Elvis is set to enter the building at St. Canice’s Church in Eglinton as the King’s music takes centre stage at the special service on March 12.

Rev. Paul Hoey.

Rev. Paul Hoey.

Those attending can expect a little less conversation and a little more popular songs as the King’s back catalogue is brought to life, and Church of Ireland Rector at St Canice’s Rev Hoey said he doesn’t mind if people want to come kitted out in full Elvis regalia.

Rev Hoey said the idea came to him last year when he heard Elvis tribute singer, Andy Rodgers, from Coleraine, sing at a concert.

Rev Hoey said: “As I listened it began to dawn on me how many of the songs related to the message of the church.

“I suppose this service will be partly like an Elvis gig and partly an act of worship.

All shook up.... Elvis Presley.

All shook up.... Elvis Presley.

“We obviously hope that it will attract worshippers who are Elvis devotees, but also others who are just curious to see how songs that are not normally sung in a church setting still have a lot to say about the message of Christianity.”

Elvis was known for singing gospel greats, such as ‘Peace in the Valley’, ‘If I Can Dream’ and ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’, but there will also be a focus on the message of his more ‘secular’ songs.

Rev Hoey acknowledged that there might well be people who see this kind of music as inappropriate for performance in a church.

“There were people who objected to Jesus bringing the gospel into the marketplace,” he noted. “But there is a long tradition of the church using popular music to convey its message.

“Besides, it’s the same God who inspired the music of Elvis as inspired the hymns we sing. It all gives glory to him.”

The special service takes place on Sunday March 12 at 7pm, and everyone is welcome.

“We won’t mind if anyone turns up wearing the Elvis gear,” Rev Paul says.

“I am genuinely excited by the challenge of engaging with people who might not be in church for a regular service. God gives us many means through which we can worship him and this is a wonderful new way to try and do so.”