On Jan. 21, 2019, the University of Redlands, a private liberal arts and professional university in Southern California, will welcome the "Beyoncé Mass
" to its main campus in Redlands, California. The worship service uses the music and life of Beyoncé as a tool to cultivate an empowering conversation about Black women — their lives, bodies, and voices — while creating an event with story, scripture, and song that calls for the liberation of all people.
The event will make up a part of the commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the University of Redlands, which will also include a series of community service gatherings and musical offerings. Created, led by, and based on the scholarship of, Reverend Yolanda Norton, the H. Eugene Farlough Chair of Black Church Studies and assistant professor of Old Testament at San Francisco Theological Seminary, the Beyoncé Mass drew about 1,000 people at its inaugural event at San Francisco's historic Grace Cathedral in April 2018.
"Beyoncé Mass is a Christian worship service that is open to all," stated Rev. Norton. "This is not a ceremony deifying Beyoncé. The premise of this service is that if we look at the personal life, career trajectory, music, and public persona of Beyoncé, so much of her life reflects aspects of Black women's stories."
The initial public Beyoncé Mass included in its liturgy the use of Destiny Child's Survivor as an introduction to speak to the enduring spirit of Black women and the capacity for all people to overcome oppression and discrimination. Additionally, the service included readings and a sermon by Rev. Norton.