Our Pastors

Rev. Jay Williams, Ph.D., Lead Pastor


Rev. Jay Williams, Ph.D., became the lead pastor of GLIDE Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco, California in July 2017. He is thrilled for this humbling opportunity to shepherd this transformative faith community. 

Jay comes to  served GLIDE from Union United Methodist Church in Boston’s South End, where he served as lead pastor for five years. Union is an urban, multiethnic, lgbtq-affirming church that has been a Christian witness of love and justice for over 200 years. He has provided pastoral leadership to the same congregation that nurtured him as a member during his college days a decade ago, while the late Bishop Martin McLee served as pastor.

An ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church, Jay has served as the pastor of Glendale UMC in Everett, Massachusetts (July 2009 – September 2012) and assistant minister of Metropolitan Community UMC in Harlem, New York (June 2007 – June 2009). Moreover, he has served widely as a board member of denominational, ecumenical, and community agencies. The call to service inspires Jay’s life work “to seek peace, justice, and freedom for all people,” as vowed in ordination.

Jay received the Ph.D. in the Study of Religion from the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in May 2017. The dissertation, entitled “Unholy Ghosts in the Age of Spirit: Identity, Intersectionality, and the Theological Horizons of Black Progress,” develops a constructive theology of spirit that rethinks hope, courage, and vitality, premised on insights from W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, and Howard Thurman. His work explores the meaning of “Spirit” in black cultural discourse at the intersection of race, class, gender, and sexuality: particularly how spirit-talk has been a marginalizing language of power. With research interests in theology, social ethics, and African-American religion, Jay strives for his work to help more disinherited folk find their voices.

“Pastor Jay” received the Master of Divinity degree with top honors from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York (2009). Prior to seminary, Jay was an assistant vice president in the private banking division of Merrill Lynch. He earned the Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude in the Comparative Study of Religion from Harvard College (2003). Emerging from his activist work fighting genocide in Sudan, where he twice traveled to help liberate modern-day slaves, Jay wrote his undergraduate thesis on the role of religious rhetoric in Sudan’s civil war.

Jay loves reading, running, and working out; his yorkie-chihuahua pups, Hurston and Bentley, like to keep him company while writing. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the Ron Brown Scholar Alumni Association. Although he proudly hails from Buffalo, New York, where his family resides, Jay despises the snow. Last but not least, Jay is a colossal fan of the 1980s cartoon “Thundercats”, which has changed his life, and he is strongly considering getting a Thundercats tattoo really soon.
Pastor Jay is a queer cisgender man.

E-mail Rev. Jay Williams at revjay@glide.org.




Karen Oliveto

Rev. Angela Brown JD., Associate Pastor

Rev. Angela Brown was born in Atlanta, Georgia re-located to San Francisco with her mother at the age of 4.  Angela was nurtured through her church and the Upward Bound program at the University of San Francisco where she received a Bachelor of Science degree with the aspiration of becoming a medical doctor.


Instead of pursuing a career in the medical industry Angela began to work in the San Francisco District Attorney as an investigator. She was quickly promoted to Senior Criminal Investigator, the first woman assigned to the Criminal Division and later joined the Naval Reserves where she was commissioned an Officer, and after twenty-two years of services she retired at the rank of Commander.


Angela then considered working for another law enforcement agency, however instead of moving to another agency she entered Law School while working full-time while attending classes in the evening. The San Francisco District Attorney Office hired Angela after she graduated from Law School and passed the California Bar as an Assistant District Attorney where she worked for twenty-two years.


Angela is a lifetime United Methodist, during the 2008 General Conference Angela was elected to the United Methodist Judicial Council from the Western Jurisdiction.

Angela attended the Pacific School of Religion receiving a Master’s of Divinity, May 2014.


Angela’s call to ministry gives her an opportunity for her to proclaim her heartfelt belief that God’s love and grace is available to everyone equally and to work on issues that demands that everyone is treated with dignity, respect and an opportunity to live their lives to their highest God given potential.


Email Angela at abrown@glide.org



Theon Johnson III

Rev. Theon Johnson III, Associate Pastor

Associate Pastor Rev. Theon Johnson III came to GLIDE from Mississippi where he led the music program at Canton United Methodist Church.  Rev. Johnson believes music traverses many perceived and existent barriers and is particularly passionate about music as a vehicle for both personal expression and communal witness.

With a background in Philosophy, Religion and Education from Millsaps College, Rev. Johnson went on to study Theology and Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington DC.  During his time in Washington he had the honor of serving as an Advocacy Associate with the General Board of Church Society on Capitol Hill.  Rev. Johnson is currently a doctoral candidate in Educational Leadership at Jackson State University in Mississippi.

He brings with him a strong connection to GLIDE’s Mission and Core Values: “I celebrate GLIDE’s vision of a future with hope for every person who walks through its doors.  But, most importantly, I believe the best days of GLIDE and its mission are ahead.  I am excited about our future.”


Email Theon at tjohnson@glide.org


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

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