It's a priestly kind of magic
By John HowardReligious Affairs CorrespondentA PRIEST is livening up his services with magic tricks – and even sawing people in half – as part of his repertoire of illusions to make Christianity more exciting to families.
By John Howard
Religious Affairs Correspondent
A PRIEST is livening up his services with magic tricks – and even sawing people in half – as part of his repertoire of illusions to make Christianity more exciting to families.
The Rev Michael Eden, who has just started as priest-in-charge at St Peter and St Mary's Church in Stowmarket, uses magic to help teach the gospel.
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Mr Eden, who is thinking of using magic during the Mother's Day service when there will be many families worshipping, said: "Within the Magic Circle there is a strand called gospel magic and I do that.
"It's a way of illustrating the gospel message and putting it across to people. It always helps to have a visual dimension. I want to create something memorable.
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"I use conjuring tricks. Jesus used parables to paint a picture in people's minds. I have sawn people in half, used a guillotine to chop people's heads off.
"I do everything from large-scale illusions to small card tricks, as long as it helps get the message across. I have done it for about 15 years as part of the service, if it's suitable."
He added: "Next time there is a family service, such as Mothering Sunday, I might do something then. I have even juggled fire before and eaten fire as part of a service.
"It is one of those things when you are up in front of a crowd of people you need to do something big and spectacular to reach those people at the back of the church. I also do little tricks for people, one to one."
Mr Eden, a former BT engineer who has been a clergyman for 17 years, is excited at taking up his new role as priest-in-charge in Stowmarket and meeting people in the town.
"At the moment I am trying to get to know the town. It's a large parish, a similar size to Corby where we were before. I like to be where things are happening," he said.
"The people of Stowmarket are being very friendly and we are very excited to be here. I want to work with the congregation and move the congregation on to a deeper relationship with God."
Mr Eden worked as a BT telephone engineer for seven years before entering the priesthood. He was formally the vicar of St Columba Church in Corby for 10 years.
Married to administrator and public relations adviser Judy, the couple have three children, David, 21, Anna, 20, and Sarah, 13.
The Stowmarket church has been without a full-time clergyman for more than two years after the last priest, the Rev Trevor Jones, was jailed for dishonesty.
Last year the Rev Christopher Myhill was appointed to the Stowmarket position, but had to withdraw due to ill-health.