Last Sunday, Aug 26, I visited the famous Glide Memorial Church in San Francisico, CA. This church has been a bastion of good works and is well known and loved the world over! Yet, it’s interesting how I have never been there before in my life, especially since I was born and raised in San Francisco within a mile of this church, AND that I worked in the Civic Center at the Library, a mere 3 or 4 blocks away. It’s interesting how you can have a monument right in your backyard and never pay attention to it. For example, I didn’t ride the Cable Cars here in the city until I graduated high school, and haven’t since.
This is the church that Cecil Williams built. He’s not the first pastor of this church but he and his wife Janice really built it up in terms of the many social programs that are administered to the community. Glide Memorial has a powerful feeding program that goes on non-stop, even on Sundays! When I got there at 8:50am for first service, there was a long line of people going in to be fed. When I left the church after the second service – about 1:00pm, there was still a line of people going in to be fed! Now that’s what Jesus was talkin about!
Now everybody knows of the Glide Choir, cause they famous and whatnots! So when I went in to the sanctuary, I wasn’t expecting what I heard, (as a Baptist) but those people can sang up in there! You know how black folks think we the only ones that can SANG? (We know others can sing) Chile! That little asian sister tore down the roof! And what an experience! The sanctuary is nice and cozy. This has got to be an old theatre, because the acoustics are fabulous! The voices of the choir soared over the ones with mikes in their hands. Beautiful hardwood floors and pews and tons of charm and old world beauty. I love architecture, even though I don’t know it and couldn’t name the style of the building. All I know is this church is a beautiful old building, inside and out. I really love it when there is no pretention, and the chairless choir stand was just so cool to me. There are just carpeted steps, so that the choir can sit and stand with ease. There were a few chairs in front for those who truly needed them.
Reverend Harry Williams of the Streets Disciples preached a wonderful message entitled “Don’t Look Back”. He is a scholar and a master teacher rolled up into a humble servant. They love him so much at Glide Memorial, although he’s a minister at Allen Temple.
What Glide is known for is complete inclusion. EVERYBODY is represented in that wonderful love church, and love oozes from the pores of the walls in there! I worshipped with gay men and women as well as everything and everyone else. It was fantastic. While I was sitting in that sanctuary, I was reminded of something. I miss the energy of the gay community just being themselves. As a child of San Francisco, I have always been around gay people who were never in the closet and were just doing themselves – being human. I don’t see it like that in Oakland, at least nowhere close to the same extent. Hey, I just love everybody, so sue me. My mantra: “do you, boo”!
A feature I love, and that’s so touching, are the photos of random acts of love and faith and beauty that are projected on the wall above the choir. Someone has taken numerous pictures of images of beauty in the ashes of the hard city life. Like the above photo where someone wrote “one love” in the concrete. There are numerous others that are shown throughout the service while the choir is singing. If those photos don’t touch your heart and remind of the beauty of humanness, then you may not be human.
These past few weeks have seen a great big change in my life. I feel like I’m coming out the the fear and brokenness that has shaped my entire life. God is placing me in numerous situations where I’m experiencing love from different perspectives. I can’t remember if I prayed and prayed for love, but I do know God is a prayer answerer!
Love is such a beautiful thing and it’s nothing to take lightly. Shape your life around love and form gifts of love from your life to give away to random people. More love will come back to you and you will be blessed beyond measure!