Worshippers at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco had a spiritual experience Wednesday night — but instead of hymns, the choir sang Beyoncé.
The Episcopal church near downtown S.F. hosted its first-ever “Beyoncé Mass” featuring the singer’s music and social philosophies, reported The San Francisco Chronicle. The event drew more than 900 people, far outstripping expectations.
“We thought it would be kind of a small exploration as a community about what it means to lift up black female voices because traditionally the church hasn't done a great job of that,” the Rev. Jude Harmon told KGO.
The concept sprang from a class called “Beyoncé and the Hebrew Bible” taught by the Rev. Yolanda Norton at the San Francisco Theological Seminary, reported the Chronicle. One of her students, a pastoral intern at the cathedral, helped organize the event.
“When we talk about womanist biblical interpretation, Beyoncé felt like a natural fit,” Norton told the publication. “If we look at the trajectory of her person and her relationships, we can see so many issues black women face and how it can affect how we interpret the text.”
The announcement of the Mass two weeks ago drew plenty of attention — and some mockery. But this crowd wasn’t there for Beysus.
"I know people think we're worshipping Beyoncé. None of that is true," Norton told KGO. "This is a way to just have different kinds of conversation."
The service featured music mixed with prayer and preaching, spotlighting the voices of the oppressed and celebrating the achievements of black women, reported KNTV.
The Mass drew rave reviews.
"It was amazing," Stephany Ashley of San Francisco told KGO. “It was one of the best spiritual experiences I've ever had.”
“It’s all about finding the appropriate context,” Xan West told the Chronicle. “Everything Beyoncé has said and produced isn’t appropriate for every venue. But Beyoncé has 20 years of work. Of course you can find things that fit the context of the Mass.”
“Honestly, it was just an opportunity to hang out with my friends and hang out with Beyoncé spiritually,” Lauren Aldredgek told KTVU. “It's just a cool time.”
Norton told KTVU that nothing has been scheduled, but that there will be more Beyoncé Masses.
Beyoncé Knowles-Carter is an American singer, songwriter and actress. She's sold more than 100 million records worldwide and has won 22 Grammy Awards.