I went to church today. Please click the link above to see where I was.
Now if you know me at all you know what I have expressed about organized religion: not all bac, but those that seem to use prejudices to try impose their thoughts on people……whether anti-gay, anti-science, anti-black, whatever; or use a television pulpit to spout their garbage and rake in millions.
I will tell you about Glide Memorial in San Francisco, probably the most unique church anywhere, so we say “only in San Francisco?”
Of course there is a back story. When I came back to the Bay Area after 10 years in Santa Monica with Ticketmaster, I found out I had been “volunteered” to Glide to help with their 30th anniversary celebration. They had on their board the founder of Esprit, VP of Bank of America and more of the same……what they needed was a promoter. So I found a venue, the Masonic in San Francisco, arranged for ticket sales, advised them on promotion and a different kind of fund raising. Cecil Williams (more on him in a little while) was able to get Robin Williams, Bobbie McFerrin, Mayo Angelou and many more and put together a great evening….about $300,000 was raised.
Now Cecil had come to the City 50 years ago, a young Methodist Minister from Texas, where his father had served as janitor in the Church. He was designated to take over Glide Methodist Church in the heart of the Tenderloin (a bad area) in San Francisco….Right away the congregation (what was left of it) could see he was a different kind of church leader.
He took down the huge crucifix in the sanctuary, explaining this was to be a place to worship a living God…..and he did so much more.
For those who saw the Will Smith movie “The Pursuit of Happyness” Cecil played himself as Will and his son, homeless, needed a place to stay and to start a new life….Cecil is the man with the beard who encouraged him.
Today Glide serves the people as a huge community enterprise. The main purpose is to serve all people of the community, no matter what their condition or status. The motto: “Our God loves everyone”. They have a $17.5 million budget….just think what they could do with the $135,000,000 that sleaze of the magachurch in Texas who just resigned had on hand.
about 3000 are served food daily. There is rehab, programs to get people off of drugs and alcohol, women’s programs and shelters for victims of abuse and more…these are headed by Jan Kiritiami, who he married in 1982….and there is a brand new building next to the church for women’s services. And adult programs, and programs for juveniles…..I wish there were 1000 Glides across America…I haven’t even scratched the surface of what they do, with love, and contributions. There are 12,000 members of the Church, including many of the famous, who are likely to show up any Sunday morning.
The service was just marvelous; one of the best bands in the city, the Glide Chorus, and individual singers and speakers made the hour and 1/2 “entertainment” spin by…..No quoting heavy passages of the Bible (yes, some were quoted) to scare the hell out of anyone that if they don’t support their religion they are doomed; it was so uplifting and the wonderful mixed audience of street people, those regulars, and all categories such sang and held hands and hugged each other….not knowing the path that brought them there but just happy to be part of it. And all invited to be part of the wonderful things that Glide does for the community.
In 2000 the Quakes of Rollerjam came to San Francisco to do some press appearances, arranged by the marvelous Rosemary O’Brien from CBS. We took them all to Glide and that was probably their best experience in the City. Stacey Blitsch, the wonderful skater, sat there with tears rolling down her cheeks….I guarantee you that the BAD girls and other Derbyites have been to Glide.
Make it a point to come to San Francisco, go to the corner of Taylor and Ellis on Sundays at 9 am or 11 am. It will be good for you. It was for me.
And for those of you who are harassing or bullying (the subject of so much what I put out here the last few weeks) and employing just bad behavior…..I hope you make a special trip to the city by the Bay.