As the electric guitar in the U2 anthem "Pride (In the Name of Love)" faded from four speakers, the Rev. Robert Brooks welcomed worshippers to Grace Episcopal Church with an unusual suggestion: He warned them to protect their hearing.
"If the sound's an issue, we do have earplugs available," he said.
Ushers handed out earplugs and fluorescent glow sticks for the "U2 Eucharist," a communion service punctuated by the Irish rock band's music. Episcopal parishes from California to Maine have hosted similar events, weaving U2's tunes laced with biblical references into the liturgy.
Streamers flew over worshippers' heads at the recent gathering in Providence. Children danced by the altar. Plasma-screen TVs illuminated the gothic sanctuary. Some people sang and clapped, while a few looked puzzled.
Brooks said the evening was designed to invigorate his once-aging congregation attracting young people and those interested in social activism. "We absolutely need to grow in order to survive," he said.