Children carried toy lightsabers to a church in Berlin, where some of the congregation dressed up as Darth Vader to mark the release of the new film "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" with a service Sunday. At the terra-cotta-brick Zion Church, an organist played the movie series' theme and Ulrike Garve, a vicar in training, opened the Protestant service with the words, "The wait is over: The Force has awakened!"

A screen set up next to the altar showed a clip from a "Star Wars" film in which Luke Skywalker fights off Darth Vader and declares to the Emperor that he will never turn to the Dark Side.

Garve and fellow vicar-in-training Lucas Ludewig, fans of the seven-part epic movie series, said Skywalker's actions showed it was important to eschew violence. Speaking to a packed church with capacity for 500 people, they said this was also a message found in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, in which some passages refer to overcoming evil with good.

"The more we talked about it, the more parallels we discovered between Christian traditions and the movies," Garve said. "We wanted to make churchgoers aware of these analogies."

Some on social media called the service "sinful" and "disgraceful." But priest Eva-Maria Menard, who is mentor to the two trainees, said, "We need to address contemporary issues or our faith will not be able to carry us through it."