Praying to the beat of Beyoncé (video story included)

If you love a good church service and also happen to love Beyoncé, then this one’s for you. A traveling worship service that confronts the issues faced by Black women to the beat of Beyoncé hits made its way to New York, where Reverend Yolanda Norton preached about self-worth, love and body image.

What started as an assignment in one of Reverend Norton’s bible classes has become a sensation. Beyoncé Mass is a womanist worship service that uses the music and personal life of Beyoncé as a tool to foster an empowering conversation about Black women—their lives, bodies, and voices. The service uses Beyoncé’s lyrics to deliver a message to congregants in hopes they will leave feeling uplifted and empowered.

“Too dark, too light, too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny, hair too long, not long enough, too kinky, too straight, too flat, TOO MUCH!” exclaimed Norton. “But beloved, I’ve come to tell you tonight, God sees you for who you are.”

Reverend Norton and her students at the San Francisco Theological Seminary first performed at the school’s chapel and later at the the Grace Cathedral, where hundreds showed up to worship, dance and sing.

The group conducted two services in New York, one in Brooklyn and one in Harlem, that focused on the body. The services began with Bootylicious by Destiny’s Child, as a representation of self-love and body positivity.

“This was absolutely wonderful,” said a congregant at the Brooklyn service. “Right on time, I needed that reminder, all of those reminders.”

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