An estimated 750-900 people flocked to a San Francisco cathedral’s “Beyoncé Mass” on Wednesday night, an event that blended renditions of the secular pop star’s music with the reading of Scripture, communion, and the presentation of a related message by a seminary professor.
The event, hosted at Grace Cathedral in Nob Hill, was part of the weekly “Vine” offering, first launched in March 2017 for “urbanites and spiritual seekers.”
As the most recent series has been focused on the experiences of those marginalized by society, Wednesday night’s service featured Yolanda Norton, the assistant professor of Old Testament at San Francisco Theological Seminary, who teaches a class at the institution on “Beyoncé and the Hebrew Bible.” The course focuses on themes in the pop singer’s music and the struggles and injustices that black women face.
“We worship God at Grace, and none other. The medium is not the message. The medium is Beyoncé’s powerful songs, which give voice to black female experience, exploring themes of spirituality, sexuality and agency,” Norton told Ebony.
“Your friends may ask you about this [event],” also reads a noteposted to the Grace Cathedral website. “You might want to remind them that God is in all the world and that Beyoncé is made in God’s image. The Church has not treated women of color fairly and it is time to face this truth.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the event also featured readings from the Psalms and Luke, the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, and the offering of communion. Norton additionally delivered a message about love in the face of hatred.
“I’ve been asked time and time again, ‘Why Beyoncé?’” she explained to those gathered, according to NBC News. “I believe in Beyoncé because she reminds us you have to do things your way.”
However, some state that the often scantily-clad, sexually suggestive singer isn’t exactly the most exemplary role model for African American women today, especially those who seek to follow Christ and lead holy lives.