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‘Beyoncé Mass’ creates space for liberation at Grace Cathedral

Asal Ehsanipour
At the Beyoncé Mass at Grace Cathedral. "


Last Wednesday, Grace Cathedral hosted an event that got national attention: a Beyoncé Mass.

This is nothing new for a religious institution that holds labyrinth walks and yoga classes for hundreds of people, along with a “Sister Act” mass, and a bluegrass mass that ran the same weekend as the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.

Grace also stages progressive readings of scripture with popular music each Wednesday.  

The cathedral's innovation director, Pastor Jude Harmon, says the programming hopes to show that God lives in places and music usually considered secular.

KALW's Hana Baba sat down with Pastor Harmon last week; he said the Beyoncé Mass came out of a desire to embrace people who don’t always feel welcome at church, and to put front and center a practice called womanist theology, which interprets the bible with an eye towards empowering women of color.


"What she's actually doing in her music, she really begins to unpack some of these questions of agency and redemption, of what it means to have hope in world that's so broken and fragmented — frankly by broken men."


Hana Baba is host of Crosscurrents, KALW's weeknight newsmagazine that broadcasts on KALW Public Radio in the San Francisco Bay Area.