"Imagine showing up for an ordinary service expecting organ music and walking in to 'In the Name of Love,'" says the Rev. Ollie Rencher of Church of the Holy Communion, setting the scene for this Saturday's U2charist.
The first U2charist was held in 2004 in an Episcopal church in Maryland and has since been picked up by churches of all dominations across the country. The service typically pairs a sermon about caring for the poor with the music of U2, often performed by a live band. Money raised at the service goes to organizations fighting global poverty.
Church of the Holy Communion, an Episcopal church in East Memphis, jumped on the bandwagon, as it were, for their first U2charist last November. (The procession is pictured.) More than 300 people attended and more than $2,000 was raised. "People asked if we could do it monthly," Rencher reports.
Rencher will lead this Saturday's service and will be joined by Mike Peterson, who will guide the musicians. Among the songs on the set list: "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" and "Pride (In the Name of Love)."
"The first offers lyrics about life as journey; the second tells of our human need to give and receive love," Rencher explains. "Both point to a loud call for human beings in all corners of the world to reach beyond themselves to create a better and just society."
Rencher says the message of the U2charist is one of hope. "We look at the lyrics of the music and of the text of the Old and New Testaments and one of the four Gospels that speak to justice and how essential it is for us to think about the poor," he says. "We can do this in Memphis. We can do this around the world."
U2charist, Saturday, May 22nd, 6 p.m., at Church of the Holy Communion (4645 Walnut Grove)