Sunday service for Swifties sees priest 'blown away' as chart hits entice new wave of young churchgoers

13 May 2024, 16:06

Sunday service for Swifties sees priest target new wave of young churchgoers
Sunday service for Swifties sees priest target new wave of young churchgoers. Picture: Alamy

By Danielle de Wolfe

A church in Germany is hoping to entice a new wave of young churchgoers by harnessing the pop prowess of chart-topping music icon Taylor Swift.

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The initiative, thought up by one resourceful priest in Heidelberg, Germany, is the latest attempt by religious leaders to attract a younger congregation through their doors.

A town known for its large student population, the move looks to harness the cult-status of the pop star's music - notably her lyricism, in a bid to bring god to a wider audience.

After losing around 2.9% of its worshippers in 2022, with numbers dwindling to around 575,000 people that year, the move aims to attract an under-represented demographic.

After successfully trialing the new service at the beginning of May, it's clear there's no Bad Blood where the new service is concerned, rolling the concept out to two separate services each Sunday.

"Sometimes I feel like everybody is a sexy baby,” the priest can now be heard reciting, far from the words of an average Sunday service.

After losing around 2.9% of its worshippers in 2022, with numbers dwindling to around 575,000 people that year, the German church aims to attract an under-represented demographic.
After losing around 2.9% of its worshippers in 2022, with numbers dwindling to around 575,000 people that year, the German church aims to attract an under-represented demographic. Picture: Alamy

A service with a T-Swift twist, the service's motto is said to be “Anti Hero” - named after the song in which Swift sings about “being left to my own devices ... come[s] with prices and vices”.

The service is said to be popular among mothers and daughters, with a total of nearly 900 people thought to have attended Sunday's services.

Taking place in the 600-year old Gothic venue, the Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit chose Swift due to her strong global fanbase and the fact the singer is a self-described “Tennessee Christian”.

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A Presbyterian, Swift had largely remained silent when it came to her political stance, raising her voice for the first time by endorsing the Democrats ahead of the 2018 and 2020 US elections.

A service with a T-Swift twist, the service's motto is said to be “Anti Hero” - named after the song in which Swift sings about “being left to my own devices ... come[s] with prices and vices”.
A service with a T-Swift twist, the service's motto is said to be “Anti Hero” - named after the song in which Swift sings about “being left to my own devices ... come[s] with prices and vices”. Picture: Alamy

It's a move her team feared would impact her fanbase, however, the singer's steadfast following endures.

The chorus is led by Tine Wiechmann, professor of popular church music at the Protestant School for Church Music in Heidelberg.

The professor has previously incorporated artists including Leonard Cohen, Madonna and The Beatles into services.

“I am quite blown away and surprised, I hadn’t expected this response,” said Rev Vincenco Petracca, who leads the Heidelberg church.

Speaking with Germany's Der Spiegel magazine, he added: “We deliberately want to reach other milieus, especially younger people.”

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