A church service using the songs of Beyoncé to highlight Black female spirituality has some fans puzzled.
Beyoncé Mass is scheduled to be held Wednesday, April 25 at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral as part of The Vine, a “service and community for urbanites and spiritual seekers,” according to the church’s website.
“Come to The Vine SF to sing your Beyoncé favorites and discover how her art opens a window into the lives of the marginalized and forgotten — particularly Black females,” reads the service description online. “We’ll be hearing an incredible message from Rev. Yolanda Norton, Assistant Professor of Old Testament at San Francisco Theological Seminary. This special service was created in partnership with the Bible class at SFTS.”
While many likened Beyoncé’s Coachella performance to being taken to church, Rev. Jude Harmon, founding pastor of The Vine who heads innovative ministry at Grace Cathedral told the San Francisco Chronicle Tuesday, April 17 that the service had been planned ahead of the singer’s festival set.
“In this year where there’s been so much conversation about the role of women and communities of color, we felt a need to lift up the voices that the church has traditionally suppressed,” he said.
Black women’s experiences of being marginalized have been highlighted online in recent years. In 2017, #BlackWomenAtWork became a trending topic as they shared their experiences of being put down at work. Several cases included leaders being mistaken for the help or being told they are “intimidating.”
Yet even though the Beyoncé Mass is meant to put Black women at the center of spirituality, several members of the Bey Hive are confused by the service — if not outright denouncing it.
“Huh?” one tweeted.
“Beyoncé herself would not approve!” said another. “No, no, and no!”
“Blasphemous idol worship,” someone else wrote. “Almost hard to believe. Goes against biblical scripture.”
Yet for those naysayers, Harmon points to the imagery Jesus used in his teachings.
“I know there are people who will say using Beyoncé is just a cheap way of trying to get people in the church,” he said. “But Jesus used very provocative images in the stories he would tell to incite people to ask hard questions about their own religious assumptions. He regularly provoked. We’re following in the way of Jesus.”
And other fans are definitely on board with Beyoncé Mass.
“She is reaching all sides of the spectrum,” someone said.
“A reason to go to church,” tweeted another.
And someone else echoed those sentiments writing, “Now this is a church service I would attend! Hallelujah Beyoncé!”