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June 30, 2007

when and how did the U2charist start?

Sarah Dylan Breuer contributed six meditations weaving themes from the music of U2 with biblical allusions and sources from St. John of the Cross to Desmond Tutu to the book Get Up Off Your Knees: Preaching the U2 Catalog, which came out in 2003. The book both responded to widespread interest in the spirituality of U2's music and ignited a new wave of enthusiasm, and very quickly, Dylan was receiving queries, letters, and sometimes CDs from people who ad read her meditations from the book and found her via SarahLaughed.net.

Dylan, who had been a U2 fan since the early 1980s, had long wanted both to bring the kind of energy she experienced at U2 concerts to settings of explicit and intentional Christian worship and to help church leaders become more aware of places outside of church where people were experiencing God's presence and connecting that with work for social justice. With the success of Get Up Off Your Knees, Dylan found herself wondering whether the momentum generated by the book could be broadened and deepened in a way that could both energize worship and excite people with a vision of God's mission of justice and reconciliation in the world. She decided that a service of Eucharist using the music of U2 as service music (e.g., the Sanctus, the Gloria) as well as hymns might do both -- and in any case, as a U2 fan, she thought it would be a fun experiment. She decided to call it a 'U2charist.'

Dylan was a part of Without Walls, a network in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland for sharing wisdom, resources, and encouragement for innovative liturgy and 'emerging church' styles of building communities of Christian worship and praxis. She took the idea of designing and hosting a U2charist to Without Walls, where it was received with immediate enthusiasm. The Rev. Ken Phelps, now rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Sunderland, Maryland, offered to officiate, write the Eucharistic prayers, and find a lead guitarist, bassist, and drummer for the music. Kathleen Capcara, well known throughout the church as a trainer for the Godly Play approach to children's formation and a genius with PowerPoint, offered to do the visuals and write the Prayers of the People. The Rev. Deacon Melissa Timmerman offered a fabulous and flexible worship space at the St. Mary's Outreach Center (SMOC) in Baltimore for the service. Dylan offered to choose the music, do lead vocals for the band, and preach, as well as write some prayers for the liturgy.

After months of rehearsal, the U2charist was ready for launch, and the first service was held on Saturday, April 17, 2004, starting at 8:00 p.m. Songs used in the service were:

"The First Time"
"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"
"With Or Without You" (instrumental -- used as background during prayers)
"Desire" (instrumental only -- used as background during the sermon)
"God Part II" (forming part of the creed, with some new lyrics written for the service by Sarah Dylan Breuer)
"When Love Comes To Town" (used in the Confession)
"Mysterious Ways" (used in the Absolution)
"Elevation" (used in the Sanctus)
"Where the Streets Have No Name" (hymn during Communion)
"All I Want Is You" (hymn during Communion)
"Beautiful Day"
"I Will Follow" (used in the Dismissal)

June 30, 2007 in How the U2charist began, Playlists/song choices, U2charist F.A.Q. | Permalink


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