NO CRYING IN THE CHAPEL

From THE STAR (Canada):

In a Newmarket veterans' hall, that stands in as a church, Archbishop Dorian Baxter has channelled the King of Rock `n' Roll each Sunday for the last seven years. On Sunday, an eclectic mix of more than 300 people gatheredto mark the breakaway Anglican church's anniversary and celebrate what would have been Elvis's 75th birthday on Jan. 8.

But as Baxter, who also performs as impersonator Elvis Priestley, is quick to point out, the main reason they assemble in the Spartan surroundings of the Royal Canadian Legion hall is to praise God.

"We honour Elvis's commitment to the Lord. Like Elvis, the King of Rock 'n' Roll, we worship Jesus, the King of Kings," said Baxter.

It was Baxter's Elvis act, his long sideburns and big black pompadour that got him in trouble with Anglican Church bishops in the first place. He was removed from his parish in 1998 and stripped of his right to perform marriages. After battling the church hierarchy for years, he formed Christ the King, Graceland Independent Anglican Church in 2003. Anglican bishops gave his fledgling church just a few months, but Baxter's congregation has continued to grow.

"It's deeply religious, but it's fun, too. It's not all about sinning and repenting, it's uplifting. The reverend is amazing. I smile all the time," said Teni Stevens, who has travelled from Brampton to attend the services for four years.

Each service features an Elvis gospel warm-up with Baxter performing one or two of Presley's gospel tunes to get the crowd in the mood for prayer. Sunday's service also had an organist, a couple on keyboard and guitar, and a bagpiper. The congregation included a section of ladies from the Red Hat Society, war veterans and several children, who were called to the front to receive a multicoloured lei from Baxter as a remembrance of Elvis and "the colours God brings into our lives."

Baxter even managed to squeeze in the ordination of two new ministers and a talk by native Indian leader David "Grey Eagle" Sanford into the three-hour affair.

Baxter's church sponsors a breakfast program, Christmas hampers and 92 orphans. He said he thinks Elvis would have liked that. He's also made peace with the main body of the Anglican Church, but has rejected offers to rejoin it.

COMMENT: Yes. Not my cup of tea. But, why not? Unless somebody can show me that this crazy priest is doing more harm than good he'll remain a chart topper as far as I'm concerned.

Comments

NO CRYING IN THE CHAPEL — 12 Comments

  1. Yeah, not my cup of tea either, but how on earth could the way he cuts his HAIR get him in trouble with the bishops in the first place???

    Sheesh.

    Once more, I really understand why the Desert Fathers and Mothers used to say, “Flee bishops!”

  2. I avoid bishops whenever possible. I cannot completely avoid them, they show up at my parish from time to time, but I can set a new record getting to my car and avoiding coffee hour!

    FWIW
    jimB

  3. According to Wikipedia, Ellie:

    “In 1998, Bishop Ronald Ferris of the Diocese of Algoma removed Baxter from his parish and revoked his license to perform Anglican weddings because of his use of Elvis in Anglican services, saying it was ‘in poor taste.’ . . .

    “Baxter says that the controversy originated when the media reported that he performed weddings and funerals dressed as Elvis, which he denies doing. Instead, he says, he performs the services in traditional clerical garb and changes into the Elvis clothes for the reception. He now performs weddings with a United or Baptist minister proclaiming the couple married. He is still officially a priest on leave from the Diocese of Algoma.”

    If “poor taste” is to be the criterion, I’m surprised we still have as many clerics in the church as we do.

  4. I knew Dorian at college. He went to the wretched evangelical college across the street from the fine Anglo-Catholic institution I attended. In those days, he was the only student around the University of Toronto consistently dressed in grey flannel slacks, button-down white shirt, tie and blue blazer.

    How things change.

    And yet another irony, both he and Bishop Ferris (who suspended him) have departed the life of this Communion of Churches to live the life of episcopi vagantes.

  5. My parish priest attended the above-mentioned wretched evangelical college. (Although she is in no wise a wretched evangelical, Trinity went through a rough patch in the 80s and a number of clergy of that generation ended up at Wycliffe who might not otherwise have been thusly inclined). Dorian Baxter was a classmate of hers. I mean to attend a service one Sunday (preferably on the last Sunday of the month for Holy Communion).

    I went to high school near Newmarket, and Christ the King Graceland’s was the only BCP service in the vicinity in other than an “off” time, so I have to give credit where it is due. And I think that the “poor taste” line is a bit feeble.

    @Mark: Southern Ontario is in the most temperate ecological zone in Canada and can be unbearably hot from late May to late September, especially for those like myself with a warm constitution.