It wasn’t a platinum record, a Coachella performance or perhaps even a higher power that got San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral to plan its Beyoncé Mass this week: It was a second year divinity student originally from Ankeny, Iowa.
Meet Sam Lundquist, who says his passion is to “open up the church — with a capital ‘C’ — to find new ways of connecting with people.” Mr. Lundquist, 33, had taken part in a Beyoncé Mass in February, and was attending the Rev. Yolanda Norton’s class “Beyoncé and the Hebrew Bible.” At the same time he was an intern for the Rev. Jude Harmon, the director of Grace Cathedral’s Innovative Ministries who also hosts the cathedral’s weekly community night. Mr. Lundquist was, in the words of his mentors, “the hinge.”
“This isn’t about bringing pop music into the church,” Mr. Lundquist said. “It’s about giving people a new lens for Christianity, and showing them that it’s not about a bunch of old stories in an old book.”
Others disagreed. Detractors called it a publicity stunt, some mocked a singalong atmosphere and some outlets even implied that it was simply Beyoncé worship. None of that sat well with Ms. Norton, a biblical scholar at San Francisco Theological Seminary.
“There’s been pushback. There has been a misunderstanding about what we’re doing and even from people in the church,” she said. “But this is about bringing people together, not pulling them apart.”