THE popularity of Beyoncé reached divine heights last week when more than 900 people attended a special mass celebrating her music in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, in the United States.
The Revd Yolanda Norton, who is an assistant Professor of Old Testament at the San Francisco Theological Seminary, where she teaches a course, “Beyoncé and the Hebrew Bible”, organised the service on Wednesday of last week in partnership with the cathedral.
It included songs by Beyoncé — including “Survivor” and “Freedom” — performed by choirs and church musicians; Bible readings; and sermons that reflected on this music, and the spiritual experience of black women and other marginalised groups in society.
GRACE CATHEDRAL, SAN FRANCISCOGRACE CATHEDRAL, SAN FRANCISCO
The service was not a “gimmick”, Professor Norton said, but a way of recognising a strong black woman who gave a voice to black women and others who did not have a voice. “Black women have fought to their core to make sure there was a better tomorrow,” she told the congregation.
Beyoncé Knowles-Carter has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, and has been awarded 22 Grammys. “I believe in Beyoncé because she reminds us you have to do things your way,” Professor Norton said. “Let’s use that as a conversation piece to talk about God. This is a worship service. I know people think this is a gimmick, that we’re worshipping Beyoncé. None of that is true.”
No images of the singer were displayed in the cathedral. The Chapter rebuffed criticism that the service was attempting to deify the award-winning artist.
“We have been surprised by how much attention we have been receiving about this,” the Dean of Grace Cathedral, the Very Revd Dr Malcolm Clemens Young, wrote on its website. “The Church has not treated women of color fairly and it is time to face this truth.”
The Revd Jude Harmon, of Grace Cathedral, said: “If you come from a different community, if you come from a different nationality, if you’re an immigrant, God loves you, and your life matters.”