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July 09, 2007

U2charist Coming to Christ Church - Christ Church Anchor

"A Multimedia Rock Concert Meets the Eucharist"

February 2007

By Richard Belshaw

At 5:00 in the afternoon on Sunday, March 11, Christ Church will do something it has never done before: host a U2charist. A what???

A U2charist is, for all those familiar with the music of the Irish rock band U2, essentially what it says it is - a Eucharist with U2 music. The actual band will not be in attendance - they comprise, after all, four of the world's most popular musicians - but their music and message will be; listened to, sung, chanted, danced to, and accompanied (at times) by other musicians.

Think of it as "multimedia rock concert meets Eucharist" -- informality, dancing, clapping, and movement in the aisles as well as the pews are not only encouraged, but assumed. The music, loud and emotional, demands ecstatic response which the Eucharist by its very nature is only too
happy to reciprocate. The result is a unique spiritual experience -- a new way of being together, worshipping together, and proclaiming the Gospel.

This very new way of “doing” liturgy was conceived a few years ago by a woman living in Maryland named Sarah Dylan Breuer, who, as it happens, enrolled this year as a seminarian at my school, Episcopal Divinity School. What makes a U2charist work is the power of the song lyrics, which are striking in the way they mirror our Anglican theological ethos of mission to those less fortunate than ourselves.

This is not a coincidence: the members of U2 have been as concerned with justice issues in the world as they have been with writing and performing the music that expresses that concern. Indeed, lead singer Bono (pronounced BAW-no, for those who aren’t quite that familiar with the band) was named Time magazine's person of the year with Bill and Melinda Gates for his efforts in promoting an end to poverty in the world, particularly in Africa. This makes the Millenium Development Goals an ideal and specific focus of the liturgy. And in fact, the readings, sermon, and collection are all tied to them, and projected images on a screen will accent the MDGs. This service is all about the message of eradicating world poverty as an expression of our faith. We become unified in communion, a witness to the way that we want to see the world unified.

A U2charist was celebrated at last summer’s General Convention and have happened in a few dioceses around the country. This will be the first one to take place in New Hampshire. Believe it or not, there are teams of clergy who have been “trained” to lead U2charists, one of which will be with us on March 11.

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, who some may recognize from her participation in our Via Media roundtable discussions last spring, will preside and I am pleased to report that Dylan Breuer herself will be with us in a leadership role. Five or six fellow seminarians will be here lending logistical support and their musical gifts.

Christ Church's youth group will be taking an active role in advertising, drumming up support, and helping behind the scenes. An invitation to attend will be sent to local churches and throughout the diocese. Please mark your calendars - this is unlike any worship you have ever previously experienced!

Link to original article

July 9, 2007 in U2charist in the news | Permalink | Comments (0)

what are some good sites for MDG information and activism?

Justice for the poor will take a lot more than individual charitable contributions, and I believe that we who identify as Christians are responsible for our stewardship of the power and privilege as well as the money we have. If you're looking for websites providing information on the Millennium Development Goals and other issues surrounding justice for the poor and helping people to act on this information and exercise good stewardship of their power, you might find these websites helpful:

  • Bread for the World -- "Seeking Justice, Ending Hunger." Bread for the World is an American organization that since 1972 has helped Christians in particular lobby effectively to address the causes of hunger. This page is dedicated specifically to Bread for the World's work with the ONE Campaign.
  • The ONE Episcopalian and Episcopal Public Policy Network -- The Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN) helps people use their voice to support public policy endorsed by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which has designated the Millennium Development Goals as our mission priority. Sign up for EPPN alerts (and no, you don't have to be Episcopalian to do so!) in your areas of interest and they'll notify you when legislation arises in that area and make it easy for you to email your senators and representatives in the U.S. Congress with YOUR views, whether you want to use their form letter or your own words. And don't miss this page of resources, including prayers and a liturgy of the Eucharist, for people of faith interested in engaging the Millennium Development Goals.
  • The ONE Lutheran Campaign -- with resources and info especially (but not exclusively) for Lutherans.
  • Oxfam International -- an outstanding website that provides news, analysis, and information on how to get involved to advocate for justice for the poor. I wish the ONE Campaign website were half as informative.
  • Make Trade Fair -- writing checks that make us feel generous while voting for people who and supporting practices that favor wealthy nations and make it impossible for people in developing countries to sell their products for a fair price places us in the spiritually dangerous position of holding on to power and privilege that preserve the gulf between rich and poor and keep us deciding, in effect, who lives and who dies. Oxfam provides the Make Trade Fair site with information on what the issues are and how we can change this profoundly unjust and dehumanizing situation.
  • The ONE Campaign -- I wish its website were better, but signing the ONE Declaration there is still one of the best ways for people in the U.S. to be alerted when legislation related to the Millennium Development Goals arises, and I have high hopes that the ONE Vote '08 site will be a positive influence in U.S. elections in 2008.

If I've missed a site that you find particularly helpful, please email me with information, and I'll be happy to consider it.

July 9, 2007 in MDG information and advocacy links, U2charist F.A.Q. | Permalink | Comments (1)

Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta's U2charist/MDG page

Don't miss this collection of information and resources on the U2charist and the Millennium Development Goals from the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. It's a good and concise one-stop destination for information not only on the U2charist itself, but on the larger goings-on in the world to which the U2charist points, and it also links to organizations dedicated to furthering the MDGs.

July 9, 2007 in Web announcement (examples) | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Cathedral Rocks - Episcopal Diocese of Western NY

Published Sunday, April 15, 2007
by Laurie Wozniak

Three to four hundred people of all ages filled the pews of St. Paul's Cathedral on Saturday, April 14, for the diocese's first U2charist. U2charist is the term coined for an Episcopal liturgy in which the hymns are comprised of songs by the rock band U2.

U2's music resonates with folks in their 60's who recall the band's early hits, as well as with high school youth and college aged young adults. Many of the lyrics incorporate biblical references and the social justice themes for which Bono, the band's lead singer and songwriter, is well known.

"It's great to see the kids here and so involved," commented Beverly Fortune, a 50-something member of the Cathedral. "These are the kids we don't see in the news. And to see all the adults here too, it's wonderful!"

The idea for such a service was conceived by Sarah Dylan Breuer, who planned the first U2charist held in Baltimore, Maryland in April 2004. In July of 2005, the Rev. Dr. Paige Blair, celebrated a U2charist at St. George's Episcopal Church in York, Maine, where she is rector. The service met with great enthusiasm and St. George's soon found itself serving as a resource for other churches desiring to introduce U2charists in their locales.

The service hosted by St. Paul's Cathedral was organized by the members of the Niagara Deanery Youth Group. Samantha Cutlip, the college-aged advisor to the group, attended the U2charist held at The Episcopal Church's General Convention in Columbus, OH last June and introduced the idea to the youth. She worked with them to select the "hymns" and put together a large screen media presentation of images that reflected each song's message. Afterwards, it was the impression made by these images that many worshippers carried home with them.

"The pictures were really interesting, said Kelsy Waack, 10. Sitting alongside 11-year-old Schyler Mathias, Kelsy enthusiastically clapped to the beat of every song throughout the service. Both girls are members of Calvary, Williamsville.

Some of the images portrayed starvation and extreme poverty. To the Rev. Canon Barbara Price, rector of St. Peter's, Eggertsville, these images were "deeply disturbing, but a great connection to what the Millenium Development Goals are all about."

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), established by the United Nations, are eight goals that aim to wipe out poverty around the world by 2015.

Aaron Taube, a 15-year-old member of St. Peter's, Eggertsville liked the combination of the music and the images. "The sermon really related well to them," he said.

The sermon was preached by the Rev. Philip Dougharty, rector of St. John's Grace, Buffalo and diocesan MDG coordinator. "God has set this feast," he said. "And we're all invited. Some of us are already there."

A ripple of laughter ran through the pews when he said, "We've got our faces down in the trough!"

But the crowd sobered quickly with his next thoughts. "We've got our faces right down in the trough and some of us don't even know it. Two billion people in this world live on less than a dollar a day. One child under five dies every five seconds due to hunger and disease. And some of us think we aren't rich enough."

Jesus in his own time, Dougharty said, was concerned that people were making rules and regulations aimed at keeping others out of the feast. "And it's still done today. We don't want any foreigners. We don't want any poor folks here."

"What are you doing that may be keeping people out of the feast?" he asked. "You may not even be doing it consciously. Let's at least pick our heads up out of the trough and look around. Just quit consuming long enough to take a look at the two billion people."

"This planet should be a place of abundance for all creation. Can we make it happen? Maybe so." As Dougharty's concluding words echoed in the minds of worshippers, the music of U2's song "One" filled the air.

One life
but we're not the same
We get to carry each other

Symbolic of the entire service, these lyrics had been incorporated into the poster graphic that advertised the event and that was projected on screen during parts of the service. It also adorned t-shirts sold at the door and worn by the youth and others who organized the service. The artwork, which portrayed a broken heart and a broken world held together by four hands, each of a different color, was conceptualized by Matthew MacIntyre, 16, a member of St. Andrew's, Burt and the Niagara Deanery Youth Group.

The collection taken during the service totalled $1400. It will be donated to two charitalble organizations chosen by the youth. Millennium Promise works with villages in ten African countries to develope agriculture, health care, education and access to clean water. People Funding People is a small New Jersey based group that develops projects in Cameroon. The youth especially liked People Funding People, because it enables them to have some say in the specific project for which the funds they donate will be used.

Link to original article

July 9, 2007 in U2charist in the news | Permalink | Comments (0)

what is Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation?

Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation (EGR) is an American organization that works to educate people in the U.S. about the Millennium Development Goals. They didn't start the U2charist -- among other things, the first U2charist was in 2004, and EGR incorporated two years later in 2006. EGR executive director Mike Kinman and EGR New England coordinator Paige Blair (both friends of mine from Gathering the Next Generation, the network for GenX Episcopalians and friends) have worked tirelessly to raise awareness of and energize The Episcopal Church the MDGs, and have made excellent use (with my enthusiastic blessing) of the U2charist to that end -- and hurrah for that!

July 9, 2007 in U2charist F.A.Q. | Permalink | Comments (0)

The "It's up to You-Chrarist" - RONdezvous

Link to original, a post by Ron Rienstra at RONdezvous:

Apparently we here in Grand Rapids are on the cutting edge of liturgical inculturation. Not just once in a while, but every month a few churches here in town sponsor an increasingly popular event that is known as the "U2charist."

Despite the admiration of Bono in certain circles, (not entirely undeserved), the U2charist is not the worship of an Irish singer who sacrifices his rock-star career in order to lobby for African debt relief.

No, it is, rather, a fairly ordinary worship service wherein a congregation from a liturgically conservative tradition (usually Episcopal) lifts up the One Campaign and the Millenium Development Goals (in the sermon or prayers in particular) and incorporates U2 songs into the traditional liturgy, replacing, for instance, an opening hymn with Mysterious Ways, or singing Gloria as service music.

I'm not sure I want to comment too critically on this sort of thing -- it does indulge a healthy impulse to reach out and connect with people the church usually doesn't, and to embrace the good things God is already doing in the world outside the church. That's nothing but good. Full stop.

Still, one wonders if the clever marketing ploy that is the name of the service (and it is clever) might distract attention from, well, Jesus. The holy supper isn't about U2; and the sermon isn't (or shouldn't be) first about laudable social goals -- except as they are a fitting response to Jesus' message of concern for the poor.

Furthermore, it does feel a bit like a desperate lunge at cultural relevance by the usual staid and respectable members of the church family. Done wrong, I suspect, it may feel a bit like when Uncle Eugene tried to dance the Macarena at Suzie's wedding. Awk. Ward.

And then there's the inevitable slippery-slope questions. If the church offers a service to attract the U2 fans and that particular sub-culture, should it do the same for other subcultures? Should Christians somewhere offer a Competitive Prayer-service for athletes and prayer warriors? Or a Goth Mass that really embraces the dark side of the human condition? Or a Jazz Vespers that is so cool it's hot? (Short answer: maybe.)

All of this might or might not be worth commentary on this blog, except that today I found that the instigator of the first U2charist has a sense of humor about herself, as she responded to critics with a list of further liturgical experiments unlikely to come to your town anytime soon, including:

  • The Kazoocharist - for vaudeville musicians
  • The R2D2charist - for Star Wars enthusiasts
  • The Goo goo g'joo-charist - featuring music by the group that once claimed to be more popular than Jesus

To which we add, in the spirit of Theologiggle, the following:

  • The Achoo-charist - a service of prayer for healing from colds and allergies
  • The Chim-chim-chiroo-charist - a good-luck service featuring music from Mary Poppins and the ceremonial "shake 'ands or blow a kiss" with your neighbor
  • For the gourmand, there is the Cordon bleu-charist, the Fondue-charist, and even the Home-brew-charist (that's for you, Chip!)
  • The Sioux-charist and Zulu-charist -- bold experiments in adaptation to particular cultures; those willing to go a bit further may consider the Voo-doo-charist or the Vishnu-charist

At this point, you can easily see how one can get carried away.

  • I.O.U.-charist - capitalizing on the Dave Ramsey rage -- an offering will be held for people dealing with overweening debt
  • Haiku-charist - The Lord be with you/With one voice, in verse, they spoke/And also with you
  • Et, Tu-charist - a service of reconciliation for those who have been the perpetrators or victims of betrayal
  • Deja-Vu-charist - talk about anamnesis! (WARNING: worship geek joke alert)
  • Shoo-bee-doo-bee-doo-charist - featuring the music of Frank Sinatra and dry martinis as the blessed beverage
  • And now, we invite you to comment on the following or add your own ideas:
  • Tattoo-charist (hmmm)
  • Kung-fu-charist (whaddya think, Andrew?)
  • Pas-de-deux-charist (liturgical dancing with the stars?)
  • Timbuktu-charist (this one is way out there)
  • Kalamazoo-charist (this one not quite so far)

You know, there seems to be no end to the possibilities here. Maybe I should make this part of my 5-year scholarly plan...

UPDATE: Hey - just realized I can start my scholarly work right here. Since my dissertation has to do with paedocommunion (i.e., the full participation of all baptized children/infants in the Lord's Supper), perhaps the last chapter, after all theological analysis, should be a return to praxis: a set of liturgical recommendations for the cootchie-cootchie-coo-charist.

UPDATE2: Jacob just suggested that congregations uncomfortable with the cootchie-cootchie-coo-charist can keep their sunday-school or children-in-worship programs and have an age-appropriate celebration of the Winnie-the-Pooh-Charist. Hunny. Mmmm.

July 9, 2007 in U2charist criticism, U2charist humor | Permalink | Comments (0)

first "U2 Eucharist" to be held in Utah - Utah's 24 TV

Saturday, May 19, 2007
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Tag(s): Music

Centerville, Utah. The Episcopal Church of the Resurrection will be holding the first "U2 Eucharist" ('U2charist' for short) in Utah on May 19, 2007. The event derives its name from the music of the Irish rock band U2. The event was conceived by Sarah Dylan Breuer, an Episcopalian divinity student, in 2003 and inspired by the publication of "Get Up Off Your Knees", a collection of sermons employing on U2's lyrics. Bono, U2's lead singer, has been a particularly vocal proponent the Millennium Development Goals which are a set of eight humanitarian objectives officially endorsed by all nations in 2000. The primary focus of the Millennium project is to eradicate poverty and disease by 2015. To that end, all of the voluntary contributions and offerings collected during the evening will be donated to the Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation. The band, U2, is contributing the music on a royalty free basis.

The eight Millennium Development goals are:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.
2. Achieve universal primary education.
3. Promote gender equality and empower women.
4. Reduce child mortality.
5. Improve maternal health.
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.
7. Ensure environmental sustainability.
8. Create a global partnership for development with targets for aid, trade and debt relief

Over the past two years the U2charist movement has caught fire around the globe with dozens of services being held as far away as Australia. Most of the hosts have been Episcopal congregations, but the list also includes Roman Catholic, Lutheran, United Methodist and United Church of Christ, among others. The service at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection is open to all faiths and denominations. All are welcome.

The music and celebration will begin at 6:00 PM, Saturday, May 19th. It is strongly suggested that those wishing to attend arrive at least 20 minutes early to ensure seating. The church is located 1131 South Main, Centerville, Utah.

The Episcopal Church of the Resurrection
1131 South Main
Centerville, UT

July 9, 2007 in U2charist in the news | Permalink | Comments (0)

First Presbyterian Church, Galesburg, IL

This U2charist announcement is a well-designed page with good information set out in a compact FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) format that addresses the kinds of things many people want to know about. Well done!

July 9, 2007 in Web announcement (examples) | Permalink | Comments (0)

U2 church service held in Dublin - NME.com

'U2charist' held in band's hometown
02.Apr.07 2:42pm

A church in Dublin has conduced a service based on U2's music.

The so called 'U2charist' was attended by 150 people at the Anglican St George And St Thomas Church yesterday (April 1).

Organiser Greg Fromholz said: "We're reaching out to the youth. There's a deep Christian message in U2's music."

During the service, the band's songs were sung instead of hymns. They included 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' and 'One'.

The services have occurred in Australia, New Zealand and Britain and were created by Sarah Dylan Breuer in April 2004 for a service in Baltimore in the US, reports BBC News.

Link to original article

July 9, 2007 in U2charist in the news | Permalink | Comments (0)

U2 service reaches out - BBC

A church in Dublin's city centre has conducted a service based on the music of Irish rock group U2.
Around 150 people attended the Anglican St George and St Thomas's Church, to sing hits like "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and "One."

"We're reaching out to the youth," said organiser Greg Fromholz. "There's a deep Christian message in U2's music."

The so-called U2charist, named after the band and the Eucharist - or Holy Communion - originated in the US.

Featuring the band's music instead of hymns, it was created by Sarah Dylan Breuer in for a service in Baltimore in April 2004.

It has since spread around the world, with services held in Australia, New Zealand and Britain.

The U2charist often features a political message centred around Bono's campaign to eradicate extreme poverty and Aids.

'Soundtrack to searching'

Dublin's Sunday service lasted an hour and a half, with the church kitted out with concert-style lighting, video screens and dry ice.
But US-born Mr Fromholz insisted the Irish version wasn't as "fanatical" as similar services on the other side of the Atlantic.

"I think at times they have pushed it a bit too far, using images of the band," he said.

"We're not doing that at all, we're just using the songs as a soundtrack to searching."

U2's music has often had a spiritual message. The song Until The End Of The World from the band's Achtung Baby album, for example, describes a conversation between Jesus Christ and Judas Iscariot.

Fromholz said U2 were an obvious choice to help draw young followers back to Ireland's church congregations.

"They are always searching, always on the look out, always looking for something beyond themselves," he said.

"I think all of us are looking for that intimacy. They are writing songs that accentuate that and they're very easy to sing along to."

Story from BBC NEWS
Published: 2007/04/02 09:32:26 GMT

July 9, 2007 in U2charist in the news | Permalink | Comments (0)