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Priest Gives Music of Bono's Band His Blessing for Communion Services

by Jim Brown
April 7, 2006
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(AgapePress) - - At some Episcopal Church services, hymns are out and U2 is in. The popular Irish rock band's songs blared from speakers at a recent "U2 Eucharist Service" in Providence, Rhode Island, where 130 worshippers were offered fluorescent glow sticks and earplugs.

Priest Robert Brooks said the service was meant to attract young people and those interested in social activism. The strategy appears to be working well, as Episcopal parishes from California to Maine are weaving U2's music into the denomination's traditional liturgy.

But Whis Hays, also an Episcopal priest and head of the Pennsylvania-based "Rock the World" Youth Mission Alliance, says such services have taken place in the Episcopal denomination for a long time. "Going back to the 80s, I was actually using U2's rendition of the 40th Psalm, which is their song 'Forty,' in services that I was in charge of," he notes.

"So, from the perspective of whether the music could be used in a liturgy that the Episcopal Church has," he continues, "been there done that."

In February, U2's colorful and often controversial lead singer Bono spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC. President George W. Bush and several members of Congress were in attendance, and Bush praised the singer as "a great guy" who used his talents to effect positive change.

Hays believes the social activism of the internationally renowned recording artist arises out of his personal faith in God. "To be sure," the priest notes, "his social activism has a broader appeal, but I think he's somebody -- as I understand what he's said -- who has a vital faith in Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior."

Bono's social activism "comes out of that," the minister contends. Nevertheless, he acknowledges, "I'm not sure whether that's really being reflected in these services or not."

In any event, although Bono and his band members occasionally use profanities and some of the songs they sing are about sex, Hayes says he sees nothing wrong with incorporating many of U2's more meaningful music into Episcopal Church communion services.

Jim Brown, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is a reporter for American Family Radio News, which can be heard online.

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