For Rev. Cecil Williams, on his 85th Birthday

Cecil_035I first learned of GLIDE in 1981. I was a seminary student at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley and was in a class called “Ministry of Deviance”(!). The class had three requirements: 1) Ride in a cop car with a Berkeley police office; 2) Walk through the Tenderloin at midnight with the Night Minister; 3) Attend a GLIDE Celebration.

I wondered what could be deviant about going to church. Then I walked through the doors!

Deviant.  Definitely deviant!

The word deviant is defined as:

Differing from a norm or from the accepted standards of a society..

One that differs from a norm, especially a person whose behavior and attitudes differ from accepted social standards.

With that being the definition of deviant, GLIDE is definitely deviant and Rev. Cecil Williams is really deviant! How else can you explain the following:

What inspired a young black boy from Texas to dream of an integrated church?

What sustained that young man’s soul when he was one of the first African Americans to enter Perkins School of Theology?

What clergyman did you know who sported an afro and whose liturgical garb was a dashiki?

How many churches across America do the wealthy and poor sit together in the same pew?

What pastor would dare to take on the crack epidemic, support the rights of sex workers, stand in solidarity with lgbtq people, and take down a cross from the sanctuary?

A deviant one. One whose behavior and attitudes differ from accepted social standards.

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work with you, Cecil, to learn from you, to risk with you.

You have shown me that the Spirit resides in the outrageous.

That unconditional love is an even greater force than I ever imagined.

That unconditional acceptance transforms every single one of us.

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Thank you, Cecil, for being your most deviant self here at GLIDE. Thank you for inviting us all to be deviant with you. There is no other church in the world like GLIDE. There is no other community like this one and it’s because of your inspiration, dedication, hard work, and deep love.

Happy birthday!

In gratitude and with love,


G Leaders14-302Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto, Senior 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 also an adjunct professor at Drew University’s Doctor of Ministry program.  Karen continues GLIDE’s commitment to unconditional love and unconditional acceptance. “If you want to see what the beloved community looks like, come to GLIDE.” She enjoys working with diverse communities to create a more just world. She encourages the GLIDE community to connect with one another, to engage more deeply with spiritual traditions, and be empowered to be change agents at GLIDE and in the world.
She is a leader in the Reconciling Ministries Network, a grassroots organization of congregations and communities committed to the full inclusion of GLBTQ persons in the life and ministries of The United Methodist Church and has served as chair of the board.  She is also on the board of California Faith for Equality. 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.  Email Karen at
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Get Ready for November

GLIDE’s mission is to create a radically inclusive, just and loving community mobilized to break the cycles of poverty and marginalization, and this November, it’s getting very real.

Cecil_039GLIDE has advocated for positive change throughout its over fifty year history. Starting with programs like Citizen’s Alert (1965) that sought to investigate charges of police brutality and support victims, GLIDE has been committed to speaking the truth as the voice of the people of San Francisco.  GLIDE is getting real for this November election – issues of vital community importance are being addressed in San Francisco’s upcoming ballot.   Glide12-294 We want to affirm our commitment to these issues:

  1. Creating and Maintaining Affordable Housing
  2. Reforming Our Broken Criminal Justice System
  3. Assuring Living Wages and Inclusiveness
  4. Supporting the Youth, Children and Families in Our Community

Glide Memorial ChurchKids Toys Give AwayWe have witnessed, through the media or the struggles we and those close to us have endured, the devastation of San Francisco’s housing crisis. We have witnessed how criminal prosecution and sentencing disproportionately targets communities of color, stigmatizing young men and women with records that may follow them for a lifetime, in many cases for minor offenses. We see how hard working people struggle to support themselves with low wages and high rents, sharing modest accomodations in sub-par conditions, seeking refuge in shelters and on friends’ couches or housed but cannot afford their next meal. We know how children exposed to tremendous societal and economic barriers such as these do not receive the resources they need to succeed.

Cecil45th prep2-443In order to break through these barriers, these years of pain and fear, we need to share our stories and speak our truths: to legislators, to the ballot box and perhaps most of all to each other.

This is why GLIDE will be sharing our stories and our insights into how we can make this place we call home better for every one of us, on this November Ballot and beyond.  Look for our upcoming endorsements of specific measures, join our political actions, get out your vote, and contact us to find out more about how you can volunteer to help at (415) 674-6081 or email

Let’s get started.

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Healing from the Unimaginable

Beth and Nick Solstice Parade

Since I heard of Robin Williams death, I cannot stop thinking of two sentences from my own son’s suicide note:

“I know that there are people who will be deeply negatively affected by this, and I am truly sorry.  There is no excuse for what I have done, and I ask forgiveness.”

“deeply negatively affected” – Nicholas, Robin, you had no idea.

I wonder where his wife and his children were when they found out.  I had been out for a nice dinner with a friend and was home watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind with one eye open.  I hadn’t seen it since I was a kid. 

When the phone rang, I thought it was Nick.  The night before, we had talked about his high school literature club.  “People aren’t talking mom.”  So, he discussed the book with the teacher. 

It wasn’t Nick on the line, it was his father.  “Nicholas is dead.”  “He shot himself.” 

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Crack is Genocide, 1990’s Style #throwbackthursday #tbt

Written by Rev. Cecil Williams and originally printed in the New York Times on Thursday, February 15, 1990.


San Francisco – Today, as President Bush attends a six hour drug “summit” in Colombia, I wonder why he so often says that drugs are our nation’s number one problem, yet he does so little about them. Twenty-five years of working every day in the crucible of urban America have brought me to an extremely disturbing conclusion: The crack epidemic in the United States amounts to genocide.

Genocide is not only the extermination of a people through systematic mass murder – and by that I do not mean to diminish those who suffered wholesale annihilation. What I’m talking about is genocide, 1990’s style: when the spirit of a people is destroyed, when the culture of a people is eradicated, when basic human relationships are ripped apart, when large numbers of people are killed because of drug-related crimes and overdoses. I am talking about the spiritual and physical death of a race.

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GLIDE’s Charlie Crompton



Reshared from The Recorder originally posted on June 2, 2014 by Nathalie Pierrepont and photograph by Jason Doiy. 


Last fall, Latham & Watkins partner Charlie Crompton, a 25-year Big Law veteran, launched a drop-in legal clinic at GLIDE, an organization that supports the poor and disenfranchised in San Francisco’s Tenderloin. In April, he withdrew from private practice to dedicate himself to the clinic full time.

Q: You chaired Latham & Watkins pro bono program, globally, for five years. When did your relationship start with GLIDE?

A: If you go all the way back, 25 years, when I was an associate, one of my earliest pro bono clients was Rubicon Programs. Five or six years ago, when GLIDE needed a lawyer, the executive director, who was the former executive director of Rubicon, suggested me. It was cool; it was like it was meant to be.

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MEET SASHA: Connecting the GLIDE Community Near & Far

My first experience with GLIDE started with hearing that Andreessen Horowitz‘s leaders would be featured at A GLIDE Talk with Ben Horowitz and Lars Dalgaard

As I was reading about the event, I decided to browse through the website and something really caught my attention about GLIDE’s mission: To empower the people at the bottom of society.

I found out that GLIDE has a kitchen that serves people in need everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. So I decided to volunteer in the Daily Free Meals Program on the same day of the event.

As I was walking to GLIDE’s Daily Free Meals Program, I saw a very long line wrapping around the block. All of whom l assume were waiting for the kitchen to open. As I got into the dining room area, I was greeted by a friendly staff member who gave me an apron, hair net, and instructions on helping to collect the leftover trays after people are done eating.


(But first… had to take a selfie!)

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MEET AMY: Engaging the Next Generation

AMY01As the 5th annual GLIDE Legacy Gala is fast approaching us, this week we take a look behind the scenes with a member of GLIDE’s Legacy committee, Amy Gardner. The Legacy Gala is a celebration of 50 years of unconditional love and community, as well as a time to showcase the work of young change makers who dedicate their time to improving the world. It is a night of dance, celebration, and music, with performances from the infamous GLIDE Ensemble and Change band, as well as DJ KingMost.



The GLIDE Legacy committee is a group of young entrepreneurs who strive to engage new audiences in deepening community involvement within the organization.The committee hopes to inspire other young professionals and educate their generation about the legacy that is GLIDE, spreading awareness of the transformational power unconditional love holds for all of us to make an social impact in San Francisco.

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GLIDE Instagram
Warm thanks to a team from Zynga who helped Glide serve breakfast to hundreds of Glide's clients this morning. @zynga, #feedthehungry Feeding souls at Glide. Thank you for your weekly volunteering, Robert Griffith, engineer @twitter. #volunteeringinsf, #friedchickenthursday Thank You to True Ventures for your compassion in action, serving nearly 800 meals on Fried Chicken Thursday at GLIDE! #glidesf Thanks go out to The Gap for being loyal volunteers. #glidesf @gap

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