Presiding Bishop Michael Curry meets backstage with U2, Bono to talk about Reclaiming Jesus

By David Paulsen
Posted Jun 27, 2018
Michael Curry and U2

This photo released by U2 shows Presiding Bishop Michael Curry posing with band members, from left, Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton backstage at Madison Square Garden on June 25.

[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry met backstage this week with U2 and front man Bono at New York’s Madison Square Garden, where the Episcopal Church leader and the globally renowned rockers discussed Curry’s Reclaiming Jesus initiative.

The meeting happened in the evening of June 25 just before the first of a series of U2 concerts in New York on the band’s Experience + Innocence tour. A photo released by the band shows the foursome posing with Curry.

“I know of no other group that has sung and witnessed more powerfully to the way of love than U2,” Curry said June 27 in a written statement to Episcopal News Service. “It was a real blessing to sit with them to talk about Jesus, the way of love, and changing our lives and the world. They are an extraordinary community gift to us all.”

U2, which formed in Ireland in the late 1970s, has been one of the most popular rock bands in the world for more than 30 years, and Bono – among that rarefied group of musicians known globally by a single name – makes headlines these days as much for his support for humanitarian causes as for his music.

Curry, too, has become something of a minor global celebrity since his sermon on the power of love at the royal wedding on May 19. After the wedding, he was invited to discuss the sermon on a dizzying variety of media outlets, from the BBC to celebrity gossip site TMZ. Curry told ENS last month that he sees the sudden attention as a unique opportunity for evangelism, as he tries in interviews to bring the conversation around to what he often calls the “Jesus Movement.”

Reclaiming Jesus is a new initiative he spearheaded this year with the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners to address “a dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest levels of our government and in our churches” and to affirm what it means to be followers of Jesus in today’s world.

U2 and Bono have not yet commented publicly on Reclaiming Jesus, though Curry said he spoke with them about its origins and intention.

“I shared with them our commitment to reclaim Jesus of Nazareth as the center of Christian faith and life,” Curry said in his statement to ENS. “And this means a way of faith with love of God and Love of neighbor at the core. A love that is not sentimental but a disciplined commitment and spiritual practice infusing every aspect of life, personally, intra personally and politically.”

Curry didn’t say whether he was a fan of U2’s music, though he stayed June 25 to attend the concert at Madison Square Garden. He had at least one prior connection to the songs before this week: A sermon he delivered in 2006 at a U2charist service in Columbus, Ohio.

The U2charists were a popular trend in the Episcopal Church at that time, structured as a Eucharist that incorporates songs from the band, whose catalogue is thoroughly infused with Christian imagery. (Bono’s father was Catholic, and his mother was Anglican, according to this New Yorker report on the band’s faith background.)

Celebrating a U2charist also held a deeper purpose, calling attention to the push to achieve the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, such as eradicating extreme poverty, reducing child mortality, and fighting HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. The ONE Campaign, co-founded by Bono, was a key advocate for the Millennium Development Goals – U2’s megahit “One” became its rallying cry – and the Episcopal Church endorsed the organization’s work in a 2006 General Convention resolution.

More than 700 attended the U2charist in Columbus in 2006. Curry, the bishop of North Carolina at the time, preached in support of the Millennium Development Goals and the ONE Campaign, telling those gathered to “be a witness” for Christ. He called the goals “a way for us to discover life again as a Church … a compelling vision of the world God intended from the beginning,” according to an ENS report on the service.

It wasn’t clear whether Curry referenced U2’s music directly in the sermon, though in one unconfirmed transcription of the sermon he is quoted as referring to the band’s leader as “Brother Bono.”

– David Paulsen is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at dpaulsen@episcopalchurch.org.


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Comments (41)

  1. Douglas Register says:

    “Reclaiming Jesus” movement continues it drift away from Christianity. Our Lord did not teach what Curry claims. God deliver us from this charlatan.

    1. Grace Cangialosi says:

      Which part of Curry’s message is not in keeping with Jesus’ teachings?

    2. Dave Garcia says:

      Show us where Bishop Curry teaches something contrary to what Christ taught and give us one example of where he is a “charlatan”

    3. Elizabeth Kaeton says:

      Ah, Doug – “Log Cabin (gay) Republican” – Register, who uses a picture of Ben Carson as his profile picture on FB and his newsfeed is filled with clippings from Fox News, was just bounced off Integrity’s page for, among other things, talking smack about +Gene Robinson’s marriage on a thread which celebrated his birthday, smack about the church with regards to the commemoration of Pauli Murray on the church’s calendar and then, finally, objecting to a poster which called Mike Pence on his homophobia and, when folks gave evidence of why it was entirely appropriate to call Pence on his homophobia, lied and said that he had been told by Integrity’s Web page administrator that those comments were in violation of Integrity’s comment policy (They were not and he had not been told that. At. All). Poor Doug’s interior troll must be very hungry. Well, he’s certainly gotten fed here.

      Truth to Authority, he says? Doug has neither any authority or a close relationship with the truth.
      Read, learn, mark, note and inwardly digest this name and, in the future, identify him and then encourage everyone to ignore him.

  2. Steve Price says:

    The foundation of the Jesus Movement that I’m hearing from the P.B.’a words is love of God and love of neighbor.I don’t understand how this strays from the teachings of Jesus.

    1. Douglas Register says:

      Sometimes real love is stern and disciplined. I can hop on one foot and shout “love, love, love, thou should love” but this is meaningless. Humans do not know by nature how to love. We imitate Christ as the example on how to love through being controlled (not guided by) the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that determines the act of real love. Unlike Bishop Curry, Jesus concerned himself only with saving souls for Heaven. He did not advocate secularism.

      1. Douglas Register, please reflect on Jesus’ words in the “Lord’s Prayer”: “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth…Think also of his parables which were very much about things on earth.

      2. Greg Garrett says:

        I’m not aware that Jesus talks at all about how to save souls for heaven. As NT Wright points out, the language of Heaven in the NT is about the Kingdom of Heaven, not about a realm where we will wind up if we believe the right things.

        1. Douglas Register says:

          I welcome all comments. Join me in praying that our church will be delivered from this charlatan.

          1. Dave Garcia says:

            Again… Show us where Bishop Curry teaches something contrary to what Christ taught and give us one example of where he is a “charlatan”

          2. Douglas Register says:

            Join the newly starting Freedom from Curry Movement. A thoughtful, spiritual, introspective union of persons within the Episcopal Church that prayerfully stands strong against the secularism and atheism the Church is now pulled toward.

          3. Matt Ouellette says:

            As others have asked you before, show us where PB Curry is promoting secularism or atheism. I doubt you can, because the Presiding Bishop has done no such thing. What he has done is proclaim the gospel. The Episcopal Church is blessed to have as a leader someone who is so on fire for Jesus like PB Curry.

      3. Gordon Fuglie says:

        Are you sure you are in the right conversation, Mr. Register? Having attended one of PB Curry’s revivals, I can tell you it was mainly Jesus and little else. And the “little else” was an exhortation to learn from the church in the Book of Acts. And “CONTROLLED by the Holy Spirit??” What kind of disciple are you — a spirit-telepathic puppet??

  3. DAVID T BORTON says:

    PB et al begin: “Jesus is Lord…” and conclude: “…The best response to our political, material, cultural, racial, or national idolatries is the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Jesus summarizes the Greatest Commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind. This is the first commandment. And the second is like unto it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:38). As to loving our neighbors, we would add “no exceptions.”

    Drift away from Christianity? Afraid not.

  4. Andy Parting says:

    Amen to the work of Bishop Curry and U2.

    Douglas Register, may the Lord bless you… with a brick.

    1. Douglas Register says:

      Church echelon are closely following these comments of which I am glad.

  5. Nancy Barrick says:

    Perhaps Mr.Register misunderstands what love is.I suggest he read 1 Cor.13.
    P.B.Curry is a disciple who spreads Christ’s message ‘that love is also an action word’.

    1. Douglas Register says:

      Love is a transitive verb. It always requires an object. You are getting closer to the vacancy in its usage by Curry.

      1. Steve Price says:

        Douglas Register, I sense from your comments that you have not yet experienced the full relationship with Christ that changes you into someone who is guided by the Holy Spirit into the full gospel experience that is there waiting for you.I’m not going to throw anything but prayers that you will find that experience.

        1. Douglas Register says:

          Why was the audience so aghast at the Curry homily during the May royal wedding? The humiliation in Curry’s homily was that it was a direct take off of that old Beatles’ song: Love Is All You Need. The Queen knew. I noted in his homily as well no objects, as in the song, to the verb love.

          Love, love, love
          Love, love, love
          Love, love, love
          There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done
          Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung
          Nothing you can say, but you can learn how to play the game
          It’s easy
          Nothing you can make that can’t be made
          No one you can save that can’t be saved
          Nothing you can do, but you can learn how to be you in time
          It’s easy
          All you need is love, all you need is love
          All you need is love, love, love is all you need
          All you need is love
          All you need is love, love, love is all you need
          There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known
          Nothing you can see that isn’t shown
          There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be
          It’s easy
          All you need is love, all you need is love
          All you need is love, love, love is all you need
          All…

          1. Matt Ouellette says:

            No, his sermon was not just a rift on The Beatles. In his sermon, the Presiding Bishop used several examples from the Scriptures to define what he meant by love. He wasn’t talking about sappy, sentimental love or a romantic love between spouses, although he did use those as analogies (as did the Apostle Paul). He was talking about the divine love that was revealed to us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is a much more powerful form of love that can change lives and societies. And the people were not aghast at the sermon. While there were some naysayers, most people loved PB Curry’s sermon and found it a refreshing expression of the gospel compared to the more hateful expressions often portrayed in the media.

          2. Douglas Register says:

            Thank you for your comment.

  6. Bob French says:

    This all sounds great…social justice is very important, but if you claim to be Christian, you have to follow ALL of Christ’s teachings, like “Thou shalt not kill.” Bono has come out publicly in favor of abortion in the recent Irish referendum. And he also thinks same-sex marriage is just fine, saying that marriage is “now an idea that transcends religion.” Jesus loves all people, and the moral code of Christianity can’t be separated from his loving plan for us.

    1. Douglas Register says:

      One knows a charlatan when they profess only one cure-all. Curry preaches of love endlessly but the only sin Curry speaks of is racism which he defines as whites towards blacks. (Refer mandatory indoctrination program begun by Curry.) Yet, to reclaim Jesus, one must not only profess compassion toward others but also to identify all sins as Jesus did both. No minister could ever preach of love legitimately without also preaching of sin. Jesus said both exists.

      (Thank you all for your comments.)

      1. Matt Ouellette says:

        Again, PB Curry is not a charlatan. He is genuinely on fire for Jesus, and preaches on Jesus constantly. You may disagree with the focus of some of his sermons (I do not. I think he’s right to call attention to the sin of racism in society), but you can’t argue he isn’t a genuine Christian unless you have good evidence to back it up (which I doubt you have). And how is preaching the love of God equivalent to the cure-all of a charlatan? Is it not the gospel that God’s love as revealed through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is the cure to sin? How is that not the Christian message?

  7. Dave Garcia says:

    I think we have fed the Douglas Register troll long enough… move on folks, we have better things to do with our time like living out the mission that Bishop Curry is calling us to.

  8. Steve Black says:

    One need not worry about being called a charlatan by a religious person-after all wasn’t Jesus also called this by religious people?

  9. Douglas Register says:

    A counter-balance or a Resist Curry Movement is healthy within every church. One must speak truth to Authority. My thank you to Nancy Barrick for reminding us of St. Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians 13. Corinth was known as the city of Love. Paul’s words are insightful.

  10. Elizabeth Kaeton says:

    Ah, Doug – “Log Cabin (gay) Republican” – Register, who uses a picture of Ben Carson as his profile picture on FB and his newsfeed is filled with clippings from Fox News, was just bounced off Integrity’s page for, among other things, talking smack about +Gene Robinson’s marriage on a thread which celebrated his birthday, smack about the church with regards to the commemoration of Pauli Murray on the church’s calendar and then, finally, objecting to a poster which called Mike Pence on his homophobia and, when folks gave evidence of why it was entirely appropriate to call Pence on his homophobia, lied and said that he had been told by Integrity’s Web page administrator that those comments were in violation of Integrity’s comment policy (They were not and he had not been told that. At. All). Poor Doug’s interior troll must be very hungry. Well, he’s certainly gotten fed here.

    Truth to Authority, he says? Doug has neither any authority or a close relationship with the truth.
    Read, learn, mark, note and inwardly digest this name and, in the future, identify him and then encourage everyone to ignore him.

    1. Susan Salisbury says:

      Ah Elizabeth, why does someone who claims to be motivated by love, assert that someone who disagrees with her is gay? I’m confused. That used to be a tactic I associated with people who have contempt for gay people. Especially when it has zero to do with the discussion. But let’s get to the meat here. I am a conservative. Not because I’m stupid. I have a law degree from a top 20 law school. Nor because I inherited my beliefs. I was raised by my Franklin Roosevelt supporting single mom. But because life and caring for other people and what happens to them have taught me the humble understanding that we humans really cannot fix everything, and further, that sometimes the measures we think are helpful turn out to be harmful.
      So getting back to PB Curry, when he decided to speak in support of the Dakota Access Pipeline protest, I was very unhappy with him. What the messy lawbreaking protesters did to the environment was far worse than the threat the pipeline posed. When they were eventually evicted they left a colossal mess that cost over a million dollars to clean up and it had to be cleaned up right away because it posed a serious and immediate threat of contaminating waterways. Yet I heard nothing from the PB nor Social activists like you even gently chastising people who would do such a thing. By comparison , and just as a reference. Burning Man hosts over 70,000 people in the desert each year and leaves the desert clean.

      Your remark here just looks kind of mean and self righteous to me. I don’t see any love for enemies in it at all. Nor do I see respect for those who disagree. Maybe my vision is limited

      1. Steve Price says:

        Log Cabin Republicans claims to be a gay organization,sort of the American gay baby boomers version of “*Jew’s for Hitler” thought they were long gone.Last time I saw one was in Atlanta airport.He was flying to L.A.to attend a party celebrating Hitler’a birthday

      2. Elizabeth Kaeton says:

        Susan – Doug is gay. As I wrote, I know his positions from his FB page and his numerous posts on IntegrityUSA FB page, which were so nasty (I gave examples in my comment) that the administrator permanently blocked him (that rarely happens on that page). Calling someone on their meanness and inappropriate behavior is not mean. It’s called “accountability”. Jesus did it all the time. As to your vision, I have no way to judge that, but I do suggest you take five minutes and review the posts that this man has made and the responses of others to him (Why you chose to address mine is curious). My issue is not that he’s either gay or conservative – both are fine with me – some of my best friends are ;~). My issue – as several here have also pointed out – is that the man is a troll. Enjoy the holiday weekend.

    2. Gordon Fuglie says:

      Thank you, Elizabeth. Your research explains a lot on this thread. In the case of Doug Register, context appears to be everything. Blessings to you!

      1. Douglas Register says:

        My citing that a post calling upon God to strike Michael Pence dead was contrary to shared Facebook community standards was what got me banned. Your reply confirms that Integrity USA does not think so. What sends a chill upon the Church is that Integrity USA says that this behavior is appropriate and approved by Michael Curry.

        http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1990-12-18/news/1990352115_1_clinic-staff-members-medical-staff

        1. Elizabeth Kaeton says:

          Doug, normally I would not dignify anything like your post with a response but what you have written is absolutely not true and, in fact, delusional. A cartoon was posted on Integrity’s FB page for Pride Month which depicted a Hebrew male of antiquity painting a rainbow over his door with the humorous admonition: “Don’t forget to paint a rainbow on your doorpost so Mike Pence passes over”. No threat to the VP. Just a humorous way of handling a man whom the POTUS joked is so homophobic he wants to hang all gays. Nothing approved or disapproved by the PB. You have just clearly demonstrated why you were banned.

          1. Doug Desper says:

            Elizabeth – since Integrity is in the mood to use Old Testament images (rainbow over a doorpost), your further imagery of Mike Pence as “death” to pass over (for which painting doorposts was the curative) is itself uncalled for. No, it wasn’t a threat, but yet the Talmud describes insult and slander against others as bloodless murder. Think on that for awhile – especially since you weaken your arguments by going low. (I know, time wasted).

  11. Douglas Register says:

    Hi Douglas. This is Mel Soriano and I’m the moderator for the Integrity board. The guidelines for communications are at http://integrityusa.org/facebook-group-policy … I contact people when others feel that the communications on the page isn’t in the spirit of the community standards. One of your comments on the birthday of Bishop Robinson was felt to be a personal attack, especially on a post that was celebrating his birthday. I ask that we all remember the guidelines so that the group can be a place of spiritual support and grace. Thank you and God bless.

    (Douglas Register) Thanks. Read the policy. You will be limiting the personal attacks on the Trump Administration. It is agreed. No more from me or Integrity.

    [Actual textual exchange.]

    1. DAVID T BORTON says:

      I will let this “discussion” go. Mr Register has created a storm about himself rather than about the gospel, the love imperative of Jesus’ gospel, and how it impacts our lives.
      Best to all the posters as they seek the risen Christ in their walk.
      Dave Borton

      1. Gordon Fuglie says:

        As the Episcopal Church prepares for its General Convention in Austin, presided over by Bishop Curry, all in attendance will be seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We, in our home parishes, will be praying that the Spirit guide Curry and the delegates in their proceedings. And in our home parishes, encouraged by Curry’s exhortation to listen for the Spirit’s leading, we will strive to become the disciples that Jesus needs to build his movement of love and reconciliation.

        How sad in this context that the troll Register brands his own Resist Curry Movement™ — calling our PB a charlatan. A few Sundays back I recall the deacon reading the Gospel lesson from Mark 3:28 – 30. “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for [the accusers of Jesus] had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

    2. Douglas Register says:

      A counter-balance or a Resist Curry Movement is healthy within every church.

  12. Douglas Register says:

    Naturally, the Integrity USA banning will be appealed to Michael Curry. I continued this long to develop a transcript. If readers of Episcopal News Services do not hear from me again then you’ll know Curry did not overturn it.

Comments are closed.