Rev. Ed Shirley brings laughter and a message to church

Published 11:00 pm Monday, September 2, 2013

The Rev. Ed Shirley, pastor of Brundidge United Methodist Church, is not your “usual” Methodist preacher. In fact, he’s not the “usual” any kind of preacher.

Rev Ed, as he prefers to be called, is a minister who wears many hats or better said, “costumes.”

Ed Shirley is pastor of Brundidge United Methodist Church and is known for his impersonations.

Ed Shirley is pastor of Brundidge United Methodist Church and is known for his impersonations.

Shirley is an impersonator. He might appear as Martin Luther or John or Charles Wesley. Then again, he might appear as Elvis Presley or Pastor Pugh Hopper.

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“Of course, I can be me and share an inspirational message and some music,” Shirley said, with a smile.

Rev. Ed came to pastor Brundidge United Methodist Church in July. But, he is no stranger to Troy.

He received a degree in broadcast journalism from Troy University where he took voice lessons from Jean Barr, who is now a member of his church choir. He also worked as an announcer for WTBF-Radio when the station was located on the campus of Troy University.

Shirley said that he has always enjoyed performing.

“During elementary school, high school and college I was involved in music and theater,” he said. “I was in several musical productions at Troy (University). My master of divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary includes an emphasis in music.”

Shirley said most of his impersonations include Biblical characters.

“History makes a greater impact when the actual historic person seems to be standing right in front of you,” he said. “Young people are especially fascinated with the firsthand account by a person from the past.

“Awakening preacher Jonathan Edwards, the Apostle Peter, Roman Governor Pontius Pilate, John Newton, and Bishop Francis Asbury are among my repertoire,” he said. “In preparing to portray historic characters, I read books and search the Internet to learn all I can about them. Then, I put the information in chronological order and decide which events in their lives are most important and which are most revealing about their character. Then, I become that person.”

But, Proverbs 17:22 says that a cheerful heart is good medicine and Rev. Ed dispenses big doses of good medicine.

“Humor can be clean and help us to laugh at even ourselves,” he said. “Boudreaux and Pastor Pugh Hopper are my comedic characters.”

Boudreaux, the Cajun comedian, was created when Shirley was attending seminary in bayou country.

“Pastor Pugh Hopper has his Bible stories mixed up, sings silly songs and talks about his crazy life in the church,” Shirley said.

Then, there’s Rev. Ed’s “juke box list.”

His most requested characters are, of course, Elvis, and then pop singer, Neil Diamond, and country singer, Ray Price.”

Shirley said he enjoys developing Biblical personalities and sharing the gospel message through them. And, he also enjoys creating comedic characters that bring fun and laughter to his messages.

“I pray that others are inspired to see how worship can be innovative and creative through drama and music,” he said. “Dramatic monologues, theater groups, artwork and heartfelt music are avenues of marvelous praise and can be an important ministry.”