Hundreds of supporters of San Francisco’s Glide Memorial Church, including Mayor-Elect London Breed, rallied Thursday denounce the reassignment of two pastors by Glide’s parent church.
On Sunday, the United Methodist Church’s San Francisco area Bishop Minerva Carcano reassigned the last of Glide’s remaining pastors, effective July 1, according to Glide officials.
The reshuffling of Rev. Angela Brown and Rev. Theon Johnson III will leave Glide without a clergy, after Glide’s lead pastor left in April.
At the rally outside of City Hall, Breed said:
“When Rev. (Cecil) Williams came to San Francisco in the 1960s, he came to change lives. He came to put forth the mission that the United Methodist Church is all about.”
“We see the challenges right here in the city and county of San Francisco with people who suffer from addiction. We know mental illness is a real struggle for so many people here in this city. What this message sends to our people is that we need Glide so much more than ever. We cannot survive without Glide.”
The historic church, first established in the 1920s, underwent a considerable change in the 1960s when Rev. Cecil Williams took over and began advocating for marginalized communities.
Soon after, Glide Church and the Glide Foundation became synonymous with the city’s Tenderloin neighborhood, where it continues to provide free meals, childcare, afterschool programs, social and health services, literacy classes, job training, free legal advice for the homeless, housing services, substance abuse programs, and much more.
Glide Church Co-Founder Janice Mirikitani said:
“When Cecil first came, the United Methodist Church fought him and some supported him. Now after 55 years of his leadership, the United Methodist Church is threatening our message of radical inclusivity with their conservative values which also threatens the Glide Foundations’ many service programs for the poor and most marginalized.”
Glide CEO Karen Hanrahan said:
“We all know what’s happening in this city today. We see it as we walk to work, around out neighborhoods. So it will not come as a surprise to anyone that our lines are getting longer, demands for our services are increasing. It’s higher than ever and that includes our spiritual services.
“What we do in our services and programs is directly connected to our spiritual services; to our church; to the love and worshipping community at Glide Church … There is no compromise of those values.”
According to the Glide church officials, Carcano has informed them that she is setting up a task force to decide Glide’s future.
The United Methodist Church was not immediately available for comment.