Founded by Lizzie Glide, San Francisco’s GLIDE Memorial Church opened its doors in 1929 as a conservative United Methodist congregation. Since the 1960s, it has been considered one of the most notably liberal churches in the U.S. and is nationally recognized for fighting systemic injustices. To this day, it continues to serve as a rallying point for the underserved and underrepresented, creating a community for people who are experiencing homelessness in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco.
GLIDE is “[A] spiritual center of healing, faith, justice, and community for everyone.” Their mission? “Addressing some of society’s most pressing issues, including poverty, housing and homelessness, and racial and social justice. No matter who you are, where you come from, or what you’ve been through, you’re welcome here.” In addition to inclusivity and advocacy, GLIDE also provides free meals, administers HIV/HEP C testing, assists individuals in finding shelter and hygiene services, and offers emotional support groups.
Between 2019 and 2020, GLIDE served over 800,000 meals to the community and now averages over 2,000 per day, which is incredibly significant because 1 in 4 San Franciscans experience food insecurity. It’s common to see a line of people around the block near GLIDE during their food service hours, rich with a feeling of community and support. In addition, the food service GLIDE offers opens the door to their other outreach programs, strengthening the community even further.
Although GLIDE and the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (CNAC) recently ended their long-standing relationship, the change is positive. A recent letter on their website reiterated their commitment to the community and vision moving forward.
The letter read,
“We are implementing a bold, large-scale plan to help more people off the streets and out of poverty to reach self-sufficiency and thrive. At the same time, we are driving systems change — doing more to advance equitable policy solutions, influence institutions of power, and break cycles of poverty and homelessness. GLIDE is focused on impact, from transforming individual lives and changing systems to influencing the entire landscape of need in our city.”
Programs like the ones offered at GLIDE are central in easing the hardships experienced by the homeless population in San Francisco. The people-first mindset genuinely makes a difference, and GLIDE has repeatedly exemplified this and how impactful acceptance and community can be.