Sounds of Transformation

100voices fill the Sanctuary with jubilant music

The GLIDE ENSEMBLE and the CHANGE BAND sing, play, clap and sway, spreading the spirit of empowerment in an infectious message of diversity, acceptance and love.

Under the musical direction of Vernon Bush, the Ensemble performs every Sunday in the Sanctuary.

Every Sunday, the drums pulse and the brass rise and fall as the GLIDE Ensemble and Change Band take center stage with their signature opening song, “Pass Me Not Oh Gentle Savior.” Calling all who have ears to hear, they beckon San Francisco (and indeed, the world) to the corner of Ellis and Taylor for a transcendent spiritual experience that heals and saves lives. Touching thousands of people every year, the GLIDE Ensemble and Change Band draws together those with disparate spiritual paths and life circumstances to sing of liberation, truth telling, love, and hope.


Dreamed into reality in the late 60s by Rev. Cecil Williams, music remains one of the pillars of GLIDE’s ministry. Starting with the “Happening” a contemporary worship service that brought jazz music into the sanctuary and hippies dancing in the aisles, music has always been a part of the movements of justice GLIDE has embarked on. Gone were the dirge-like hymnals; in was the joyous, explosive gospel music of the black church alongside the rich traditions of jazz, rock, folk, and blues.


This music, steeped in protest and visions of a more just and loving world, spirited GLIDE’s participation in the Anti-war and Civil and Human Rights battles of the 60s and 70s. The music has bolstered our work with the Black Panthers and the United Farm Workers, been proclaimed alongside Gay Liberation and Marriage Equality, and sung out against Apartheid, domestic violence, economic and social injustice, poverty and hunger.


From its humble beginnings on Christmas Day, 1966, when it was only 10 singers and jazz legend John Handy, the GLIDE Ensemble and Change Band has grown to include more than 100 voices and eight musicians. Beginning with the first choir director, Faith Winthrop, the GLIDE Ensemble and Change Band has benefitted from the direction of such talented leaders as Donnell Hickman, Ronald Sutherland, John F. Turk, Jr., Clifford Coulter, and Vernon Bush, and has teamed up with a host of notable musicians such as Sammy Davis Jr., Leonard Bernstein, Marvin Gaye, Bono, Bobby McFerrin, Maya Angelou, and Joan Baez.


Much like today, the Ensemble embodied an activist spirituality that provided the congregation and the community an antidote to the layers of repression that characterized many of their previous church experiences. A new world was emerging right outside GLIDE’s door and Cecil, his rag-tag, multi-colored singers, and Change Band brought that energy right into the sanctuary. This tradition is carried into today, where no one is rejected; everyone is accepted. Anyone, regardless of vocal talent, is able to join this egalitarian body and break the mold of a stale and sedate church every Sunday.


Beyond Sunday, the Ensemble and Change Band have brought their music out into the community, from prisons and the projects to stadiums and television, from the streets of the Tenderloin to the silver screen. They have sung before both presidents and the homeless, celebrities and nobodies. From Market Street to as far away as Shanghai, China, the GLIDE Ensemble and Change Band has taken our embrace of social justice to the world.


Perhaps more than anything, the gift of the Ensemble will always be its ability to summon forth the powerful feelings of community, support, faith and love from the sanctuary every Sunday, week in and week out, without exception. For many, it may just be GLIDE’s greatest gift of all.


You can order the GLIDE Ensemble’s newest CD, recorded in celebration of Rev. Cecil Williams’ 50 years at GLIDE and the life changing work he and Janice Mirikitani have given to San Francisco and the world, by going online to or by stopping by Freedom Hall after Celebration on Sunday.

Buy the GLIDE Ensemble and Change Band's newest album


Want to Try Out for the Ensemble?

Auditions are held every Wednesday at 6:30pm in Room 206. Rehearsals begin at 7pm.


Want to Book the Ensemble?

Contact the Celebration Office for information about scheduling the GLIDE Ensemble.


Phone: 415.674.6002

GLIDE Celebration Livestreaming

We livestream both the 9:00 and 11:00 AM Celebrations every week! 

Follow us on Facebook to be notified

View our archive of Facebook livestreams

GLIDE Sunday Celebration Podcasts

For more Sunday Celebration podcasts, CLICK HERE


Celebrate50 Live at the SFJazz Center (2013)

John Turk's 30th Anniversary Concert (2010)

Wings of Song: A Spiritual Flight (2009)

Holidays with Real Soul (2007)

A Salute to Ron Sutherland (2004)

The Sounds of Hope (2001)

Love to Give (1997)

Coming Home to the Spirit (1994)

Touch the Spirit (1991)


GLIDE  330 Ellis Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 | 415.674.6000

GLIDE Digital EcosystemGLIDE's Facebook PageGLIDE's Twitter PageGLIDE's YouTube PageGLIDE's Vimeo pageGLIDE's Instagram pageGLIDE's iTunes page