Four Questions for Reverend Jay Williams

GLIDE’s new Senior Pastor

Reverend Jay Williams became GLIDE’s senior pastor on July 1, 2017. When he delivered a guest sermon back in March, Rev. Williams received spontaneous standing ovations at both the 9:00 and 11:00 am Celebrations—and no one knew then he would be coming back! His first sermon as GLIDE’s new senior pastor will be this Sunday, July 23.

Before coming to GLIDE, Rev. Williams served as lead pastor of Union United Methodist Church in Boston’s South End. He takes over from Bishop Warner Brown, who had served as interim senior pastor after Rev. Karen Oliveto was elected to the bishopric in July 2016. Recently, in anticipation of his arrival, we asked Rev. Williams a few questions by email.

Rev.-Jay-Williams---November-2016_forblog

Can you describe your call to the ministry? 
In a way, I have been called to ministry all my life. I’ve been passionate about church since I first joined my late Granny in worship on Easter Sunday 1985, when I was four years old—I’ve been going ever since. Two decades later, while working on Wall Street in private banking following college, I finally answered my call to ordained ministry. While I really enjoyed my job, I experienced exceeding joy serving in my congregation’s youth ministry—that’s when I realized I had found my vocation and started seminary. And now, I’ve never been happier.

Who are your inspirations?
My family—biological and spiritual—has been my greatest inspiration and influence. My Granny nurtured me in faith at a young age, encouraging me to dream big and to always remain in love with God. I’ve been blessed with extraordinary parents who have always shown me unconditional love. Their struggle against working class poverty to “make ends meet” was an early inspiration for social justice for all. Over the years, I’ve been surrounded by teachers and professors, church mothers and fathers, mentors and friends who have pushed me ministerially and academically.

When did you first become aware of GLIDE?
I visited GLIDE 20 years ago while attending the Youth Harambee conference of national Black Methodists for Church Renewal (in fact, Bishop Brown was the local host at the time!). My youth group joined Sunday Celebration and my life has not been the same. I had never been in such an exuberant and inclusive place. As a young person struggling with my sexuality, GLIDE was a breath of fresh air. GLIDE was one of the first places where I experienced the harmony of being gay and Christian.

What is your vision for GLIDE as its new senior pastor?
I am over-the-moon thrilled to be called to GLIDE. My vision is simple: to imagine and write GLIDE’s next chapter of growth together. Our nation and the world really needs GLIDE, perhaps now more than ever. I’m excited to partner with the GLIDE community, congregational leaders, and Foundation staff to dream and to make real our shared vision. It’s an honor to join Rev. Cecil, Jan, Rita, Rev. Theon, Rev. Angela, Rabbi Michael, and so many others in this sacred work.

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"What is a free store? Its first principle is to give whatever can be obtained to those who will take. This means clothing, furniture, appliances, food. In a ghetto area where physical and emotional needs are critical, where American Opportunity is an outworn joke, where the ravages of racism are as real as the pavement, a free store means revolution." #FromTheArchives #ThisMonthInHistory #UnconditionalLove #GLIDEHistory #SFhistory #vintagephoto #throwbackthursday to #ColdWar-era GLIDE. There are still a reported 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, but together, in community, we can continue to demand nuclear disarmament and a peaceful future for the generations to come. GLIDE envisions and fights for this future every day. 
#GLIDEforDisarmament #FromTheArchives #GLIDEHistory #disarmament #vintagephoto Today marks 72 years after the horrific bombing of #Nagasaki, Japan at the end of WWII. GLIDE remembers the thousands of innocent people who tragically perished in the initial atomic blast as well as the many more thousands who suffered the physical and psychological symptoms of radiation exposure for the rest of their lives: the mothers who lost their babies, the communities ravaged by increased rates of cancer, the elderly survivors who have developed new forms of leukemia and face great pain in their old age. .
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We remember them. There are still a reported 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, but together, in community, we can continue to demand nuclear disarmament and a peaceful future for the generations to come. GLIDE envisions and fights for this future every day. 
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