St Canice’s Church in Eglinton was packed to capacity on Sunday evening for what is believed to have been Ireland’s first ever ‘Elvis Service’.
The service, which featured the music of the late, great Elvis Presley, was the brainchild of the Rector of Faughanvale, Rev Paul Hoey, and was called ‘All Shook Up’.
Rev Hoey hoped to attract not just Elvis devotees but worshippers who were curious to see what songs not normally sung in church might say about Christianity. The Rector was not disappointed. The large congregation included people of different Christian denominations, some of whom had travelled from as far away as Dungannon or Portstewart.
During the service, Elvis impersonator Andy Rodgers, from Coleraine, donned costumes similar to those worn by Presley during his career, including a GI’s uniform, black leathers, and a sequined, white jumpsuit. He belted out classics such as Are You Lonesome Tonight, and The Wonder of You, and gospel hits such as Peace in the Valley and He Touched Me. Rodgers’ performance ended with a rousing version of American Trilogy.
However, the most enthusiastic reaction of the evening was reserved for the Rector, Rev Hoey, who appeared after the last number wearing a black Elvis costume, dark glasses and wig. Peals of laughter turned to applause when the Rector revealed that a friend had pledged £100 to church funds if he donned an Elvis suit.
During the service, Rev Hoey reminded the congregation of Presley’s own faith journey. He recalled what the entertainer said to one female concert-goer who referred to him as ‘the King’. Presley thanked the fan politely but told her “I can’t accept this kingship thing because to me there’s only one ‘King’ – Jesus Christ”.