A Theory of Change
For Janice Mirikitani, Clifford Coulter and GLIDE Memorial Church
Beginnings and endings are the same, looked at from different sides, creating this sacred tapestry we call life. — Brandt Miller, Church Storyteller
GLIDE Memorial Church has always been a microcosm of the community, of our world, filled with all of its joy and heartache, beauty and truth. Some people come in and find a home. Others are called here only momentarily, to discover whatever they need to discover: love, spirit, a test, a vaccine, or simply the power of being seen.
As a Church dedicated to healing, change is at our core. We help individuals and communities transform. People come to us broken and addicted, faithless and alone. They leave on roads to recovery: more whole, filled with faith, and surrounded by beloved community.
Our own community—both the multitude of individuals we are composed of and the institution as a whole—is moving through this process of transformation, a reflection of what is happening for individuals and institutions everywhere. We went virtual a year and a half ago with the onset of the pandemic and have reimagined a way for us to continue celebrating and being together in community. In that year, so much has happened. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many other black lives were taken by police violence. GLIDE Memorial Church separated from the United Methodist Church, marking a new chapter as an independent Church movement. Derek Chauvin received a guilty verdict, a potent symbol of justice. Countless people around the world have died due to COVID, and continue to die. A vaccine was developed. The world, and GLIDE, started opening its doors again as more folks received vaccinations. Then the Delta variant reared its dangerous head and we’ve been forced to remain virtual, pushing our in-person and hybrid return to a future date.
And then, the event that shocked our entire system: GLIDE’S co-founder, Janice Mirikitani, passed away. It is hard to put into words what Janice meant to our community and the city of San Francisco. She was the city’s Poet Laureate. She and her beloved, Reverend Cecil Williams, molded GLIDE into the healing institution it is today. She saved countless lives through her loving presence, her poetry and her devotion to truth-telling. She was a fighter for women, children and families, for the LGBTQIA+ community, as well as all others forced to the margins. Janice Mirikitani was larger than life. In honor of Janice Mirikitani’s passing, our Church held an in-person and virtual vigil and GLIDE organized a Celebration of Life.
And in the midst of so many changes, GLIDE also lost our longtime bandleader, renowned musician, Clifford Coulter, on August 16th. GLIDE now has two new ancestors guiding us, Janice and Clifford. Our community is in deep mourning.
We stand again, at an edge of history, where change touches the unknown. Here at GLIDE Memorial Church, we understand change and transformation so well. We know that we all have the possibility of changing form. And with intention, with community, and most of all, with love, we can transcend.
Change isn’t easy and GLIDE Memorial Church is in the thick of it. We are moving through it strategically, with spirit and heart. There are incredible things on the horizon that we can’t wait to share with you. And we are here with this community every single day in Celebration, in our Congregational Life groups and through our shared storytelling. As we move through grief into Celebration, it is the light of Janice and the light of Clifford that beckons us forward. It is the light of GLIDE being changed, and changing us.
GLIDE Memorial Church has so much in store as we emerge liberated, as we stand strong as an independent Church. We invite our entire congregation to stand strong with us. This is our story of co-creation. This is our story of transcendence. This is our theory of change.