What if when Beyoncé said, “Respect that, bow down bitches,” she was actually talking about bowing down to God? At Beyoncé Mass, she is.
Yes, Beyoncé Mass is a thing, and yes, we also have questions: Do you go there to worship Queen Bey? Is she the one giving the sermon? Does that make Blue Ivy Jesus? We sent our own Nyasha Shani Foy to San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral to witness this holy event and see if it’s everything we imagined.
Turns out that Beyoncé Mass is not about worshipping Mrs. Carter herself, but rather using her body of work to inspire people to attend service, worship the Lord, and empower themselves. Her lyrics drive the sermon, with a lively choir singing everything from Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor” to Beyoncé’s “Freedom,” and church goers are given pamphlets (designed to resemble her 2013 self-titled album, of course) that read “Beyoncé Mass.”
Anyone can attend Beyoncé Mass, but the service focuses on empowering women of color and other minority communities by bringing pop music and religious messaging together. Reverend Jude Harmon tells Nyasha that Grace Cathedral draws a large LGBTQ and PoC crowd. “The church hasn’t been the best about lifting up those voices,” he says. “Honestly, I think Beyoncé is a better theologian than many of the pastors and priests in our church today.”
Reverend Yolanda Norton organizes and leads Beyoncé Mass with a passion and energy that can only be likened to that of Queen Bey. She sums up the spirit of the service concisely when she describes herself: “I am unapologetically a minister of the Gospel, I am unapologetically a biblical scholar, and I am unapologetically a Beyoncé fan—and I don’t feel like I need to apologize for any of that.”