A church in Denmark held a worship service on Friday night featuring songs of the late global entertainment icon Michael Jackson.
Attendees packed the sanctuary of Natkirken på Strøget (Night Church at Strøget) in the capital city of Copenhagen, where an overflow crowd spilled down the chapel’s aisle. A choir-led sing-a-long harmonized to some of the King of Pop’s top tunes — including “Man in the Mirror,” “Heal the World,” and “We Are The World,” which was co-written by Jackson and Lionel Richie.
Jens Biegel-Fogh, Priest in the Church of the Holy Spirit and Leader of The Night Church, told The Daily Wire: “As a pastor I take a look at the lyrics and enter into dialogue with them in the light of the gospel. Sometimes I think ‘with’ them, other times it’s a more critical perspective. But the focus is never the artist but the songs. Their faith or lack of faith, perspective on life or actions is not relevant.”
Biegel-Fogh said The Night Church has been experimenting with such musical worship services for the past two years. He has led similar services based on the ballads of Prince, George Michael, Justin Bieber, Queen, ABBA, and Disney songs.
However, the Jackson-themed event had been criticized as insensitive for taking place soon after the debut of “Leaving Neverland,” a two-part HBO film claiming the deceased singer molested young boys. The Associated Press reported that Denmark’s oldest shopping mall removed a wax statue of Jackson earlier this year “out of fears it could offend customers and may be vandalized because of the accusations.”
“We have had the worship with MJ’s songs planned for months before ‘Leaving Neverland’ was shown,” Biegel-Fogh wrote in an email exchange with The Daily Wire. “So it has nothing to do with that. The worship was not a comment on the guilt or innocence of MJ.”
“But we didn’t cancel. Primarily for the reason that I think it’s a dangerous (and impossible) path to go down to have certain purity standards that the artist behind the work cannot transgress. A person is always more than his or her transgressions. The work is not the (potential) transgression.”
“I hope this — in my far from perfect English — gives some explanation of the service,” the email concluded.
Friday’s gathering was documented on social media by Christina Ihler Madsen, who is reportedly a Copenhagen-based spokesperson for the Moon-Walkers Michael Jackson fan club.
On Monday, she tweeted: “I assume that people who attend an event called ‘Michael Jackson church service’ on a Friday evening, are people who like MJ, and not because they were just there for a regular sermon. Most people where (sic) singing along. I only saw around 10/15 people I knew from the fan community..”
Follow Jeffrey Cawood on Twitter @JeffreyCawood.