Friday, August 11, 2006

Elvis Brings Spiritual Wholeness

A cathedral (Anglican) shook up its Sunday evening worship with a pioneering Elvis Presley night that attracted 900 people.
Some of the congregation wore T-shirts paying tribute to "the King", clutched programmes with Elvis's face on them and sang and clapped throughout the 75-minute service, which was led by an impersonator, Johnny Cowling.
Truro Cathedral, which moved its traditional evensong to 4.30pm last Sunday to make way for worship led by the impersonator, says it now wants to become even more adventurous because ordinary services "do not connect with people".
(And all this time I thought worship was about connecting with God)

Colin Reid, a spokesman for the cathedral, said: "The Elvis evening was a rip-roaring success. (Rip roaring and anything regarding church, doesn't belong in the same sentence unless it is a church carnival) "Elvis" sang a series of gospel songs and in between the head of worship, Canon Perran Gay, reflected on the significance of the lyrics.
"Everyone loved it. There were many people there who never normally darken the doors of a church or a cathedral. That was the point." (Yep, and they will never come again unless you can top the last "performance" because they came for the show, not for worship)
However, the cathedral, which has also conducted Sunday evening worship through country and western music, jazz and poetry, has a problem - how do you follow Elvis? (Ahhh, so they do get part of it)
Mr Reid said: "The Elvis event far exceeded expectations and dwarfed attendance for the jazz and country and western, but the question is where do you go from here? You can't beat Elvis." (I suggest trying God! Yep, God can beat Elvis, but I guess a God impersonator wouldn't work. In the Catholic Church where God is physically present 24 hours a day. He never leaves the building.)
He added: "This seemed to really work, so we are going for something more adventurous, which does not include music. The plans are still being considered." (More adventerous? I don't want to know.)
Future services could include film, meditation and meals, he said.
Kay Greenway, one of many parishioners who filled in forms afterwards giving their reaction, wrote: "I have been a church-goer all my life but I felt more spiritual wholeness in the past few hours than I have felt for a long time. Thank you." (Spiritual wholeness? From an Elvis impersonator?)
Sue Martin, from Newquay, wrote: "I enjoyed everything about the service and the way it was conducted. It has left me uplifted and happy." (Happy clappy...err what would you call it with Elvis?)
The experiment was not without its critics, however. Some traditionalists complained that the cathedral was dumbing down.

Read more here and here

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