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Worshippers all shook up as 'Elvis' performs during church service in Northern Ireland

By Donna Deeney

A Church of Ireland congregation packed the pews for a Sunday Gospel service with a difference at the weekend.

Elvis impersonator Andy Rodgers performed at St Canice's in Eglinton for two hours leaving stunned worshippers - including resident rector Rev Paul Hoey - all shook up.

During the service Coleraine man Andy donned a sequined white jumpsuit as he belted out The King's hits.

They included classics such as Are You Lonesome Tonight and The Wonder Of You, as well as gospel classics such as Peace In The Valley and He Touched Me.

Andy told the Belfast Telegraph that the St Canice's gig - performing in front of worshippers from different Christian denominations - was the most unusual one he has had in 12 years working as an Elvis impersonator.

He said: "Performing in a church was certainly a first for me but I was only too happy to say yes when Rev Hoey asked me.

"The church was packed, in fact they had to bring in more seats, and there were people from both communities there, which was great.

"There were two guys from a church in Dungannon who were so impressed that they are thinking about having a similar evening in their church."

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. He was not disappointed.

During the service Rev Hoey reminded the congregation of Presley's own faith journey and how he politely told a female fan who had called him The King that he couldn't accept the accolade because there was "only one king - Jesus Christ".

Rev Hoey explained the idea of a service inspired by Elvis, who also covered the Blackwood Brothers' song In My Father's House.

He said: "I have long thought that a lot of the songs Elvis sang, both Gospel and non-Gospel songs, have a message for today's society.

"After seeing Andy perform at a concert I made a spur of the moment decision to ask him to come and perform for all of us in church.

"He agreed, and he packed the pews. He sang for about two hours, but it could have gone on for four hours going by the reaction of the congregation.

"Everyone was extremely positive on the way out the door and many people suggested we have similar evenings in the future, which I definitely wouldn't rule out."

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