UPDATE: This story was originally published on April 4.
A source told People that Kanye has talked about starting his own church, but "it wouldn’t be the traditional, three-hymns-and-a-sermon thing." Kanye’s plan would be more of a "a way to point people to Jesus through the arts and through a community of people who love and care for each other," the source said.
Kanye apparently spends a lot of time praying and studying his faith, the source said. "He understands brokenness and the need for healing, probably more than most people," the source told People. "He believes in the healing powers of music, but also believes that God can step in and heal people’s brokenness and their issues."
As someone who nicknamed himself Yeezus, posed as Jesus on the cover of Rolling Stone, titled tracks, "I Am A God" and "Jesus Walks," and rapped about being "a close high" to Jesus, Kanye West has always been outspoken when it comes to faith. So, in January, when West and various members of the Kardashian family started posting videos and photos of an elusive "Sunday Service" gathering, many people began wondering: Is Kanye starting a religion?
Service-goers have been pretty cagey about the weekly practice, though it sure appears to be church-like. The service takes place in a zen space with color-changing lights that amplify the many-person choir and band dressed in all-white clothing. Recently, Sunday Service moved outdoors, and Kanye is scheduled to host a Sunday Service on Easter at Coachella. At Sunday Service, the choir sings gospel music, and jams along to Kanye's songs, like "Lift Yourself," "Power," and "Father Stretch My Hands." North West, Kim and Kanye’s daughter, is often videotaped dancing and singing along to the gospel music. "Her favorite part of the week is dancing during Sunday Service," Kim recently tweeted.
But beyond the music, it's not really a church, although it has Christian undertones, according to the Kardashians. In a recent interview with Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Kim explained that Sunday Service is "more of just a healing experience" than a religious one. "There’s no praying, there’s no sermon, no word, just music, and just a feeling — and it’s Christian," she explained. So, it's like a high-vibe spiritual Christian concert that’s welcoming of celebrities and other musicians, such as Katy Perry and Busy Philipps.
"We have so many friends who maybe feel too judgmental when they go to church or something," Khloé Kardashian explained on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. "When they come here, they feel free and safe, is what everyone says." People of all faiths can participate in Sunday Service, although it is a "very spiritual Christian experience," Kim told Elle. "Everyone that comes understands it’s just a really healing experience with an amazing choir, and amazing messages about love to start off your week," she said.
Pivoting to religion might seem kind of random for the mega-famous family of entertainers and business moguls, but the Kardashians have always had a spiritual side. In 2016, Khloé wrote an essay for Lenny Letter explaining her relationship to spirituality and organized religion. In it, she described herself as "spiritual" and "devout," and explained that her dad would read the Bible every single day. "Sundays then became about his bringing church and religion into our home," she wrote. "He would play gospel music — it had so much soul, and he loved that." Nowadays, Khloé wrote that she still practices "daily devotionals," but "haven't found a church that I'm passionate about, where I fit in."
Kim, on the other hand, said in a 2018 interview with Vogue that the whole family identifies as religious. "We are very Christian — and our work ethic and our discipline comes from so many years at Catholic school," she told Vogue. Each morning, Kris Jenner sends a Bible verse to their group chat, she said. Kourtney Kardashian often shares photos of passages from the book, Jesus Calling, on her Instagram story, and has been seen going to trendy churches, such as Zoe Church and Hillsong.
The success of Sunday Service speaks to the larger trend of celebrities embracing religion and "spirituality." Will Sunday Service have staying power in the oversaturated world of Hollywood churches? God only knows.