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September 05, 2007

Rock merges with religion in 'U2charist' - Longview News-Journal

By RANDY ROSS
Wednesday, September 05, 2007

It's where rock 'n' roll meets traditional worship.

Between a flashy slideshow and blaring rock music, a group of about 200 Christians took communion Tuesday night at LeTourneau University's S.E. Belcher Jr. Chapel and Performance Center as part of "U2charist," a Eucharist service featuring the music of the rock band U2.

Matt Walker and Ruby Outlaw were among the many students who came to the service out of curiosity.

Walker, 19, is a sophomore flight science student, and Outlaw, 17, is a high school senior from Temple visiting the Christian school. The pair saw the pamphlet and did not know what a "U2charist" was, Outlaw said.

Outlaw was all smiles as she talked about the service. She said it took the normal message of Christian communion and presented it in a new way. Walker said he enjoyed the way the service alternated between U2's music and readings from the Bible or brief thoughts from speakers.

Neither was familiar with the music of U2, but both appeared to be enjoying the music, as hand-in-hand, the couple nodded their heads to the music.

The Rev. Jim Watson of St. Michael and All Angels' Episcopal Church and professor of English at LeTourneau University, led the service, reciting from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer between songs. Watson said the Eucharist service was a celebration of Christian community around a fellowship of believers.

"This one is unique because Bono is here in spirit," Watson said with a smile.

Bono, lead singer of U2, gave the Episcopal church the opportunity to use the band's music during the traditionally liturgical service. Harold Carl, university chaplain, said Bono is a Christian who writes songs with spiritual themes. As a part of the service, churches are required to take a collection for human rights causes, Carl said. This service took a collection for the Longview chapter of Habitat for Humanity.

Many students are identifying with Bono's message, and many now see ministry as a way not only to evangelize but also to meet the needs of the world, Watson said. The service was a way to introduce students and other people in the community to a new way of worship, he said.

Students in attendance appeared interested in what they saw and heard. Most students sat in rapt attention as they watched religious images interspersed with global photographs and U2 lyrics.

"It's a very unique approach," Outlaw noted between songs.

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September 5, 2007 in U2charist in the news | Permalink

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