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Several news outlets reported this weekend that Episcopal churches are piping in U2 music as part of their services–even their liturgy–in an effort to preach the message of ending global poverty.

“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,” said an AP story. “He warned them to protect their hearing. ‘If the sound’s an issue, we do have earplugs available,’ he said.”

The story went on to highlight how U2’s tunes are woven into the liturgy and how something called “guerilla marketing” was utilized weeks in advance to ensure high attendance. Members and visitors are able to take communion while listening to popular U2 anthems.

For churches to include the music of secular musicians is not a new thing; the Vineyard movement, seeker churches, and the growing number Emergent Church communities have long been among those that feature house bands playing popular and classic songs. But piping in music from one of the biggest bands in the world is a signal of what may become a new trend, as pastors and other church leaders realize they can leverage the music of name-brand musicians and bands to communicate their message to the faithful army of church-goers, making it easier for ministers, pastors, rectors, and priests to get it across themselves.

And for bands–or their business managers or labels–this may signal a new realization that churches can be an effective venue for reaching new listeners.

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