Thursday, September 8, 2011

U2Charist worship event coming to Clayton Center for the Arts

What do you get when you cross the music of Irish rock band U2 with Holy Communion? It’s called a U2Charist, and it’s coming Sun., Sept. 11, to the Clayton Center for the Arts at Maryville College.

This unique worship event, which begins at 6 p.m. in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre, is hosted by Maryville College’s Center for Campus Ministry and Green Meadow United Methodist Church in Alcoa. Classic U2 songs such as “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “Pride (In the Name of Love),” will be offered up during the worship service by Davis Mitchell, other members of Dishwater Blonde, and keyboardist and Maryville College alumnus Jerry Sullivan.

"Many of U2's songs are rife with spiritual themes," said Buzz Trexler, pastor at Green Meadow United Methodist Church. "In recent years, many churches have taken the opportunity to explore those themes from the pulpit and in small groups. At Green Meadow, for instance, one Christmas Eve message was based upon the U2 song 'When Love Comes to Town.'"

The Rev. Anne McKee, campus minister at Maryville College, will lead the service, and Trexler, who is designing the service, will present the message and assist McKee during the service.

Trexler said the Sept. 11 service at Maryville College has been a six-year effort at trying to put together a U2Charist in the Maryville area. U2Charists have been held around the world since 2004, featuring the music of U2, with a message supporting Millennium Development Goals, such as eradicating poverty and hunger, and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

"The ability to have live music in a neutral setting was something that always seemed to evade me," he said. "Yet, here it is coming to pass for the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks."

As the band and the venue came together, it became clear to him that there was a U2-based theme relevant to this anniversary, he said.

"The chorus in 'Sunday, Bloody Sunday' is 'How long must we sing this song …,'" Trexler said. "When you think of all the grief and misery that has come in the wake of that attack, what more relevant question to ask for such a time as this?"

The event is free and open to the public. An offering will be collected to benefit ministries related to One Millennium Goals: Strength for the Journey, an East Tennessee AIDS/HIV ministry; Family Promise of Blount County, a homeless ministry; and The Welcome Table, a food and fellowship ministry in Maryville.

“We are excited to host this event,” said Preston Fields, director of community engagement at Maryville College.  “U2Charist is an innovative way to engage our students and church community in living out Christ’s command to serve the poor and marginalized.”
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