In Memory of Lizzie Glide, A Church Honors Her Mission

 

ImageAs the lead pastor of one of the largest churches in The United Methodist Church, I am indebted to a woman who I never met: Elizabeth Snyder Glide. Lizzie, as she was known throughout her life, was born in Louisiana in 1852. During a family bible study, Lizzie had her own Aldersgate experience. Her father read Matthew 25:31-46 about the coming judgment and separation of sheep and goats, representing those who showed compassion to others and those who failed to do so. Lizzie, even though a child, was deeply moved by this passage and discussed it more deeply with her father. Her father told her that as long as she was a good girl and loved Christ, she would be assured a place in heaven. This was a defining moment upon which would direct her future path and actions.

The family moved to Sacramento, California in 1867 and joined the local Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Lizzie was an active member and Sunday School teacher. It was at this church that she met her future husband, Joseph Glide, who was a cattle baron.

In 1889 evangelist Sam P. Jones came to Sacramento. It was at a revival that Lizzie came forward to consecrate her life to Christian service. Even though she had come to live a life of ease in the Glide mansion, she soon established a mission for the most destitute in Sacramento, working there herself and often giving her own testimony of sanctification. She became well-known and well-loved among the poor, and a highly sought after speaker.

Lizzie’s mission work extended far beyond Sacramento. She began to live more simply so she would have more wealth to give away for mission work in other countries. She even asked her husband to stop buying expensive gifts on her birthday and other special occasions and give her money instead, so she could give more away.

When her husband died in 1909, Lizzie took over his business, quickly acquiring a business sense. She became a very respected business person in California. In the running of the family business, she continued to channel monies to the betterment of others through the work of the Church.

In the early part of the 20th century, San Francisco was a rough and dangerous place for women. One day, Lizzie stopped a woman on the street and asked her what she would do if she had a large sum of money to use to better others. The woman replied that she would build a safe home for working women. In 1914, Lizzie gave her first gift to San Francisco: The Mary Elizabeth Inn. For one hundred years, this United Methodist ministry continues to offer women a safe, affordable place to live in the City. When I was a candidate for campus minister at San Francisco State University, I stayed at Mary Elizabeth Inn for the duration of my interviews (Lizzie continued her commitment to women by building dormitories for women at UC Berkeley and Asbury College).

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One day when she was praying in her room in Sacramento, she had a vision of a church is the heart of San Francisco. Even then, the number of unchurched people in San Francisco was quite high. She saw the city ripe for mission, and in 1929 began constructing a church at the corner of Taylor and Ellis. The cornerstone was laid in 1930 with the inscription:

GLIDE MEMORIAL EVANGELISTIC TEMPLE
A House of Prayer for All Peoples

Glide Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church, South opened its door in 1931.

With Lizzie Glide’s firm foundation, the church has grown into her vision. Keeping with her commitment to reaching out to the poorest of the poor, today Glide serves nearly a million free meals, offers free health care, low-income and supportive housing, recovery services, child care and education, and continues to draw people from around the world for engaging and transformative worship. Lizzie’s encounter with scripture as a child is boldly lived out at Glide:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

Rev. Karen Oliveto, Pastor | Originally from Long Island, NY, Karen Oliveto has been a campus and parish minister in rural and urban settings in New York and California. She arrived in San Francisco in 1989, first as campus minister at San Francisco State University, and then, in 1992, as the pastor and leader of Bethany United Methodist Church in Noe Valley. While there, she expanded the congregation, and was instrumental in the effort to open the doors of the United Methodist Church to all persons, including gays and lesbians and their families. Oliveto holds a Ph.D. in Religion and Society from Drew University, and recently served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Pacific School of Religion where she continues as adjunct professor of United Methodist Studies. She is a member of the National Board of Directors for the Reconciling Ministries Network, a grassroots organization of congregations and communities committed to the full inclusion of GLBT persons in the life and ministries of The United Methodist Church and has served as chair of the board. Karen is the co-author of Talking about Homosexuality: A Congregational Resource (Pilgrim Press: 2005) and has written numerous articles, hymns and liturgies. She is an avid hiker and traveler, plays guitar and drums, and enjoys cooking for friends. Check out Karen’s blog.
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A SF Love Story: Emily Cohen Shares How She Gave Her Heart to GLIDE

“A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm.”  – Henrik Ibsen  

I often tell people that I fell in love with GLIDE by accident.  Just over a year ago, still (and hopefully forever) a tourist in my own city, I offered to take my father’s friend to observe a Sunday Celebration service. It was on my long list of things to do in SF anyway. So I met them for an 11a.m. service in late January of 2013.  And like they say about love at first sight, I was swept away, blown away, totally hooked.

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I love San Francisco. And I think that when you love something (or someone) the most important thing you can do is give your heart to it. Be brave, take a chance, and offer yourself up in whatever ways you can.

So, after attending Sunday service for a few months I finally took the next step and began volunteering once a month on Sunday mornings in the GLIDE Daily Free Meals Program.  This resulted in me falling in love with GLIDE all over again. Through their Sunday services I was hearing about their impact on the city and our community.  In the kitchen, I was seeing it. And in a small way, I was a part of it.

When I tell people that I volunteer in GLIDE’s kitchen once a month they often offer up a response along the lines of “good for you,” “that’s so great” or “what a nice thing you’re doing.” What I want to tell them is how much more I get out of it than I give. But that’s a cliché and can be hard to explain.  You have to experience it for yourself. And I suggest you do.

GLIDE has given me a way to connect with my community, and to contribute in a way that I would otherwise not be able to. GLIDE is a vehicle to help you contribute to something meaningful; to help you open your heart and open your mind.  And in the short year I’ve been involved with GLIDE, it has taught me some wonderful lessons:

1)   When you keep your eyes open with a desire to give back, you’ll find opportunities everywhere:

One morning I was serving in the kitchen on a typical chilly SF day when one of the GLIDE staff members mentioned in passing that they used to serve hot coffee with all three meals. Now, due to budget cuts, they could only serve it with breakfast.  After seeing first-hand  how important hot coffee and a warm meal was to the hundreds served each morning, that small statement resonated with me. Coffee – a small thing – made a huge difference to the people in that room. People I cared about.  And I wanted to do something.

2)     Make a difference where you can, however you can.

After serving that morning I couldn’t get the idea out of my head that I could be doing more for GLIDE.  So I decided not to get rid of it. Instead, rather than letting the inspiration fade away,  I decided to take a chance and act on it the best way I knew how – by calling on my friends.

My greatest blessings are my friends. They are also my greatest resource. So I reached out to 8 amazing people; each of whom I trusted and each of whom had their own strong network of friends. I asked them to do something I knew we could all do very well – throw a party. But this time it would be for GLIDE.  A few of them were unfamiliar with GLIDE, but it didn’t matter.  They were willing to trust me – One of the best parts of friendship.  I asked each of them to commit to bringing a minimum of 10 people to the party. And I asked them to reach out to their own network of resources to help make the event happen. One Eventbrite website for guests to register at, A Facebook event page, a secured venue, a couple of sponsors, a photographer and a caterer willing to donate their skills, and  just like that, we were in business.

3)   When you do something with love, when you give with love, you’ll be surrounded by love.

The night of the event more than 120 young people from SF, many from different networks, came together for a party. Some came in groups. Some came alone. Similar to walking in to GLIDE, it didn’t matter.  We wanted everyone to have a good great time, meet new people friends, feel comfortable, feel inspired, and come away with a desire to give back and get involved with GLIDE.

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There were a lot of highlights from that evening; A sold out venue, an opportunity to educate people about GLIDE, and raising money for the organization. But, in some ways, the brightest highlight for me was seeing 120 young professionals come together; making new friends – meeting new people and having a great time for a great cause. We’ve been asked by many of the guests if and when we plan to do it again. So we will.

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4)   I am somebody. You are somebody.

Hosting your own fundraiser for GLIDE is an opportunity to remind people that if you love San Francisco, contribute to it. And if you want to give back, connect and engage in a meaningful way, get to GLIDE. We are all one person. But one person, when connected to GLIDE, has the opportunity to give back to our city and the community we seek to connect with in boundless ways.

Sometimes, during Sunday services, I take notes.  There are some things said that I just don’t want to forget. A few months ago, during his sermon, Reverend Cecil Williams said, “Take action for justice and righteousness and because you believe people should take action. Say ‘I’m here, I’m taking action!’ Shout out ‘I am somebody and you are somebody.’”

I hope that the event we threw that evening, above all else, was a reminder that when you’re inspired to do something – to give back, to connect, to educate, to advocate – that you do it. Use your resources, however great or small, in whatever ways you can, to create something good. To start something.  Because you are somebody. And I am somebody. And we can all do great things.

With gratitude for the opportunity to give back to GLIDE I must thank the people who helped make it happen:  My great friends Alfonzo Collazo, Anna Leff-Kich, Rachel Leff-Kich, Scott Lewis, Hilary Mattis, Brian Maestretti, Emily Mcdonald, Jason Sommers, as well as The Office private venue,

Schoenberg Family Law Firm, Haya Hon Catering, Max Claus Photography, ByeJoe Liquors, Alice Engstrom and Ben Rosenfield of GLIDE for volunteering for us that evening, and each of the amazing people who came, danced, donated and gave back with us that night.

For those interested in hosting your own fundraiser for GLIDE, you can check out our event page at http://www.eventbrite.com/e/2014-karma-kick-off-party-tickets-9195687549.

ImageEmily Cohen is the Director of Government Relations for a union-affiliated contractors association headquartered in the East Bay. She lives in San Francisco's Cow Hollow district and has been a member of GLIDE for just over a year, attending Sunday services and serving breakfast monthly in the kitchen. In addition to GLIDE, Emily is a supporter and/or member of multiple other local charities  and advocacy groups including SF's LGBT Center, SF Food Bank, and various animal rescue organizations, including San Francisco's Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. She has two spoiled rescue dogs, Sam and Biscuit.
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Pastor Karen Oliveto Reflects on Ten Year Anniversary of Gay Marriage in SF

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What a difference a decade makes!

Ten years ago today, I received a call from one of my parishioners who gave me the most surprising news: the City and County of San Francisco was issuing marriage licenses! He barely took a breath before informing me that he and his partner were on their way to City Hall and then asking if I would meet them there and marry them.

When I arrived at City Hall, it was as if I was stepping into a dream world: A line had begun to form as word got that legal marriage was now available to gay and lesbian couples. Gay couples, lesbian couples and straight couples were taking their places throughout the building to exchange vows. The joy in that building was overwhelming.

San Francisco was transformed during our “Winter of Love.” So many of our neighbors and friends were married. Many of the couples had been together for years, had even had civil and holy unions. Yet it was not until they received their marriage certificates that their relationships gained equal footing with straight couples: families who in the past referred to their son and his “friend” proudly claimed him now as a son-in-law. Co-workers who were indifferent after holy unions quickly put together wedding showers for newlyweds. It was clear that marriage was an important step in the long road to equality.

By the time that window of legal marriage was over in San Francisco, I had married 9 couples related to my congregation. I had the privilege of officiating at the first legal marriage between a gay couple to be performed in a United Methodist Church. Our congregation joined the rest of the City in celebrating the way the love between a couple spills out into the larger community to bless us all. Read more ›

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GLIDE Youth Choir Celebrates Black History Month

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GLIDE’s Youth Choir commemorated Black History Month by singing the Black National Anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” at Sunday Celebration February 9. They were joined by youth from Lakeshore Alternative, who presented a step performance and a video talking about their wishes for the world. GLIDE Youth Choir Director Classy Martin, who also teaches the kids at Lakeshore Alternative, says – “Our performance was excellent. Nerves were shaking but they pulled it off and were so excited and full of joy when they received a standing ovation.”

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Classy shares her experience about getting ready for the event:
“When we sing a song, I like to give some explanation about the song so that they can understand what they’re singing, and I did just that with “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” We actually tested this last week. (because I forgot to explain it). We’ve been working on this song for 4 weeks. Before I taught it, the kids did not know one word of this song. And because they didn’t know it, I decided to change some of the ‘flow’ of the song to make it more modern. The first 3 weeks, they could not get it. Their reasons we’re that the song had a lot of words and there were a lot of riff raffs in the song. (High voice low voice) So I asked ‘Do ya’ll wanna sing this?” They said everything except “YES!” Lol…I wasn’t mad or disappointed,  I just knew I needed to take a different approach. I told everyone to sit down and tell me the words to the song and what they thought it meant. Some were on point, others had no clue whatsoever. I then begin to tell the story of African-American folks. Told their story. Which is to keep singing. Giving all praises to God, to keep using your voice as they did back in the day. To thank God for bring us this far, and as the song says: “Let us March On” ’cause we still got a long way to go. To never give up… After I gave my lil speech, they begin to come up with their own meanings of the song. From there, it was magical. The song came out great. They knew what they were singing about and it showed. They sung their little hearts out, and they were so proud. I was proud.”

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Subscribe + Follow the GLIDE Sunday Celebrations Podcast!

Subscribe + Follow the GLIDE Sunday Celebrations Podcast!

GLIDE’s Sunday Celebrations are available for streaming + download at Podomatic: http://glidesf.podomatic.com/ and Itunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/glide-podcast/id425252990

Join GLIDE’s Ministry Team and the soulful sounds of the GLIDE Ensemble and the Change Band LIVE every Sunday + fill your week with the GLIDE spirit of unconditional love and acceptance with a digital listening party!

Share this message + spread LOVE!

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GLIDE’s Men in Progress Program Expands

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Men In Progress, GLIDE’s violence prevention program for men, grew in the past year to add a Stage Two meeting on Thursday nights in addition to the Stage One meeting every Tuesday night. After receiving certification by the San Francisco Adult Probation Department in January 2013, the program expanded its 52-week schedule to include Stage Two, and currently welcomes over 80 participants each week.

Part of the success of Men In Progress is that it’s a peer-facilitated group. Men learn to recognize when they are in ‘fatal peril’ – the moment when their sense of power and control is challenged. They also work to help each other take accountability for their violence, both in class and in their larger communities.

“In Stage One we talk about how you need to stop being in your ‘hit man’ image – this image that you give yourself to carry out your violating,” says Ray, security supervisor at GLIDE and Men in Progress facilitator. “Stage Two is about asking yourself, ‘So if I’m not going to be this image, then who am I? Who is my authentic self?’

Read more ›

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FYCC Celebrates Nelson Mandela

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GLIDE’s Family, Youth, and Childcare Center teachers honored Nelson Mandela in their classes during the week of December 10-19, 2013. Students learned about Mandela’s life and legacy and made Soweto ornaments for an art display in the FYCC lobby, which was installed by FYCC Creative Arts Instructor Candice Jacobs. Following are a few quotes from students of what they learned about Mandela:

Jose J., 5th grade: “He [Nelson Mandela] fought for rights because he did not want people to be treated badly.”

Lizeth M., 2nd grade: “Nelson Mandela helped [his] people to have a better life and a better country. He tried his best to make people [feel] well.”

Angel J., 3rd grade: “Nelson Mandela was a good man and, he got rights for people. He said that Blacks and Whites need to be together.”

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@sfbusinesstimes 40 under 40 event, GLIDE salutes 2014 honorees @AT&TBallpark. Rev. Cecil Williams, Janice Mirikitani, Kristen Growney Yamamoto celebrate the #hardthings launch with Ben and Felicia Horowitz at Airbnb HQ with GLIDE board member Lars Dalgaard and the Andreesen Horowitz family. GLIDE team leaders brainstorming innovative solutions to make communities stronger. #bigideas #googleimpactchallenge Team @bananarepublic @gapinc @bewhatspossible are in the house! Thank you for your compassion in action!
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