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Priest rocks for church fundraiser

Priest Andy Eldred, of St Mark’s Anglican Church, sharing his passion for music. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

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Andy Eldred isn’t your typical priest.

He was once a heavy metal musician about to hit the big time when he put a rifle to his head and contemplated pulling the trigger.

But after “a radical encounter with Jesus”, he put down the gun and picked up a bible instead.

He laughs as he recounts the day in his early 20s, when he had long hair and eyes black with eyeliner.

That was decades ago and, while his life has changed, Eldred still hasn’t put down his guitar.

Originally from the United States, he will be performing with his band Good As Gold and cooking up some of his favourite recipes as part of a fundraiser for Carterton’s historic St Mark’s Anglican Church.

The Ragin’ Cajun Louisiana Hoedown is being held at Featherston’s Anzac Hall on Saturday at 6.30pm.

St Mark’s in Carterton. PHOTO/FILE

Eldred said St Mark’s, where he has been priest since May last year, was facing financial hardship.

“There’s been a lot of parishioners who over the last few years have passed away and they were regular contributors.

“Part of my job was to come here and revitalise things, get some younger families and people involved, and try and build that core of support and resource back up.”

The church was built in 1875 to serve the settlers of Carterton and is the oldest church in the Wellington Diocese still in daily use.

Eldred said funds were always needed for building maintenance and insurances, which had gone up since the recent big earthquakes.

The church would also need to be painted soon.

Eldred said community events were a great way to raise money and an opportunity for people to make new friends, while raising the profile of the church.

He would be putting on his apron for this weekend’s shindig to whip up his favourite American eats, including jambalaya and gumbo, with Fresh Choice Greytown donating the meat.

St Mark’s was a central part of the community said Eldred who moved to New Zealand to work as a youth pastor in Kapiti. He was appointed as priest to Greytown’s St Luke’s Church in 2009.

His unique background gives him a somewhat unorthodox approach to priesthood.

He said he interpreted the bible in a way that related to the world as it was now.

As well as Eldred’s three-piece band, the event will have performances from Wellington-based Laura Collins and her Back Porch Blues Band, as well as some Wairarapa musicians.

Tickets to The Ragin’ Cajun Louisiana Hoedown are $55 and are on sale at Take Note Carterton, Scented in Greytown, and EscVelocity in Featherston.

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