Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has entered the (church) building.
Imagine a mutton-chop-whiskered, white-jump-suited Anglican priest, posed dramatically on one knee, arm raised skyward, belting out, before a cheering crowd of the pious and the curious, the Elvis hit "Where Could I Go But to the Lord." (Yes, Elvis covered that song in 1968. His Majesty is not in the Gospel Hall of Fame for nothing—he garnered all three of his Grammies for gospel hits, not rock tunes.)
The priest then regales his riveted audience with Christian rewrites of such secular Elvis perennials as "Blue Suede Shoes" ("Well it's one for the Father, two for the Son, three for the Holy Spirit and your life has just begun.")
That's the Rev. Dorian Baxter—"Elvis Priestly," he likes to be called. Last Sunday, January 5, Baxter held the inaugural service of his "Christ the King, Grace-Land, Independent Anglican Church" in a Newmarket, Ontario Legion Hall. Two hundred potential members showed up, along with a bevy of paparazzi.
Baxter uses the hyphen in "Grace-Land" to emphasize "Grace." (He also recognizes that the King lived a less than saintly life, but he insists the rock'n'roll star held firmly throughout his life to faith in Jesus and died with a pure heart.)
He uses the "Independent" because Canadian Anglican officials have found his shtick "in poor taste," and demoted him to "priest-on-leave" from the Diocese of Algoma in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
This kind of reaction is a familiar one for those through the centuries who have drawn on secular cultural forms in their efforts to bring sinners from the world into the church.
In their defense, such churchly pop-culture innovators have pointed out that Jesus always showed up where the people were and ate and drank ...1