The Rock (music) upon which the Church is built: Celebrating the U2charist

I was talking with my friend Halden the other day and in the conversation he mentioned to me something he had heard about called U2charist. Halden explained to me that the U2charist is the celebration and partaking of the eucharist to the music of U2. I could hardly believe what I was hearing, but upon searching YouTube I was able to find several videos of congregations celebrating the U2charist. I’ve included one of them below for everyone’s…everyone’s…well, do with it what you want.

Apparently, this is the new way of some of today’s churches as they are emerging from…something/somewhere into/unto…something/somewhere else. I’m not really sure how all that works, but maybe they too still haven’t found what they are looking for.

While there is much that could be said about this movement I will hold off for now and allow people to comment as they like. I will add a follow up response soon after I have thought a little more about the reasons this bothers me so much.


10 Responses to “The Rock (music) upon which the Church is built: Celebrating the U2charist”

  1. 1 sue e June 13, 2008 at 9:07 am

    this is only a suggestion to help you balance your reasoning – why not go along to one and then base your opinions on experience rather than just hearsay?

  2. 2 WTM June 13, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    I’m sympathetic but a little worried.

    The last line of the segment (the woman talking) was, however, quite bad.

  3. 4 Nathan Smith June 14, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Perhaps we should turn the matter on its head and ask just what (if any) sort of music should be used in the celebration of the eucharist?

  4. 5 ericroorback June 15, 2008 at 12:50 am


    I appreciate your comment and engagement on this topic. Your suggestion is noted, and I would be more than happy to attend a U2charist and base my opinion upon that. Unfortunately, I’m not aware of any going on in the Portland area. It’s true that one shouldn’t normally base something on hearsay, but should do whatever possible to enter into to the idea(s) before submitting a criticism. However, I don’t have the opportunity, as far as I am aware, to attend one of these services. Because of this, I left only to go off of what I can find on YouTube that supporters have put up.

    I’m not intending to be completely dismissive of the U2charist. However, I do have reservations about the whole enterprise from what I have seen via the videos and testimonies that have been posted on You Tube.

    I am all for further dialogue with you, and please feel free to respond.

  5. 6 ericroorback June 15, 2008 at 1:36 am


    That’s a great question, and one that I actually really appreciate. I’m more than happy to take a stab at your question but i would love to open this up to others as well.

    So, here is my response: I’m not sure what specific music should be associated with the eucharist. My specific difficulty is not so much with the U2 music, so far as it speaks to the significance of the eucharist. My specific problem is with the discussions I have heard surrounding the U2charist. Much of what I have heard concerning the U2charist seems to be centered around Bono’s association with issues of Aids and poverty. Don’t get me wrong, I think his concern and the work he has done is commendable. My difficulty is that the celebration of the eucharist is a different matter than concern for issues of social justice. Not that there aren’t overlaps, but they nonetheless are different matters. I have to run for now but let’s keep the blogalogue going.

  6. 7 Nathan Smith June 15, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    OK, I see what you mean now. And yes, I agree there is such thing as too much Bono -> =P

    I was invited by a friend to a U2charist which was in Salem or Eugene probably 6 months back, but I missed it due to schedule conflicts. I might attend one, but I think using rock music in worship is generally not helpful, especially given the dangers of the personality cult of the rock star. I think music in the eucharist may be a case where there is no right answer, but there are wrong ones.

  7. 8 ericroorback June 16, 2008 at 4:03 am

    Good point, Nathan. I don’t think that music is necessarily a bad thing as an accompaniment to the eucharist celebration, nor necessarily an inherent good. I would agree with your comment that “music in the eucharist may be a case where there is no right answer, but there are wrong ones.”

    With the case of U2, I think I would have to know a bit more about the U2charist to say that it is the “wrong” music, but thus far I do find it a bit troublesome.

  8. 9 rihannsu June 16, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    The U2Charist services are supposed to be specifically for promoting the support of accomplishing the Millenium Developement Goals and U2 gives permission for the music to be used without charge as long as the collections from the service go to organizations that support the MDG’s. Here is a link to a resource site by the person who started this. If you have questions that are not answered on her site you should email her or commment somewhere that she can respond. This was never intended as just general use of U2 music in church partly because if you do use the music without following these guidelines you would have to pay the usual licensing fees. Anyway here’s the link:

  9. 10 Sarah Dylan Breuer October 15, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Yes, I’m the person who, with the Without Walls ministry team in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, started the U2charist, with the first service being held on April 17, 2004.

    The Nightline piece is full of inaccuracies, and small wonder — they didn’t talk to anyone who had been involved with the U2charist in its first year. It was created NOT to replace traditional services or to try to pack the pews, but as a traditional (everything I’ve done with it has always followed the rubrics for the Eucharist in my tradition, which is Anglican, though others are free to adapt it to their context), prayerful, and Christ-centered gathering — a service of the Eucharist offered with particular intention for the world’s poorest, and along the way showing the versatility of U2’s music (e.g., the many places *a* U2 song could work in a service). I as surprised as anyone to see it spread internationally, and to hear that some were seeing it as a pew-packing measure.

    In any case, please feel free to give me a shout via the U2charist resources page if you have any questions, comments, or criticism (yes, there’s a category of posts just for criticism) you’d like to offer.

    Thanks for your thoughtful reflection, and I’d love to hear more from you!



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