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Glide Supporters Rally In Face Of Pending Removal Of Pastors

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- A Bay Area institution that is ready to go to battle to stay true to its mission rallied supporters in San Francisco on Thursday.

KPIX 5 reported on Wednesday that the United Methodist Church informed Glide Memorial Church that its pastors would be reassigned last weekend, leaving the church with no one to lead services.

On Sunday, the United Methodist Church's San Francisco area Bishop Minerva Carcano reassigned the last of Glide's remaining pastors, effective July 1, according to Glide officials.

The reshuffling of Rev. Angela Brown and Rev. Theon Johnson III will leave Glide without a clergy, after Glide's lead pastor left in April.

For more than 50 years, Glide Memorial has fought for the homeless, the hungry and those with any kind of heartache.

But now, the foundation and its church face a new crusade, this time against the denomination it represents.

"This isn't just about reassignment of pastors. This is about a bishop with a fundamentally different vision for Glide," said Glide President and CEO Karen Hanrahan. "A vision that does not align with Glide's values or our legacy in this city. A vision that is rooted in exclusion."

On Thursday, Glide and its supporters showed up on the steps of City Hall in San Francisco to tell their ruling body -- the California-Nevada United Methodist Church -- that they will not back down.

"Gilde Church would become just another notch in the belt of the United Methodist Church regional conference. We say no!" said Hanrahan.

What exactly they are saying no to isn't clear. KPIX 5 could not get an answer from the Bishop on Wednesday.

Glide says the schism has to do with its emphasis on social mission work ahead of the spiritual, where the Bishop feels like God should come first.

Glide's pastor emeritus the Rev. Cecil Williams -- who took over what was a struggling conservative church in 1963 and made Glide what it is today -- says you have to save a person's life before you can save their soul.

"I put blood sweat and tears -- and joy -- into what I created here. And it hurts sometimes that I find myself being challenged by the very core religious denomination I've been a member of my whole life," said Rev. Williams.

San Francisco Mayor-Elect London Breed also appeared at the rally.

"When Rev. Williams came to San Francisco in the 1960s, he came to change lives.  He came to put forth the mission that the United Methodist Church is all about," Breed said. "We see the challenges right here in the city and county of San Francisco with people who suffer from addiction. We know mental illness is a real struggle for so many people here in this city. What this message sends to our people is that we need Glide so much more than ever. We cannot survive without Glide."

Glide says the Bishop wants to make Glide a more traditional Methodist church which -- at its core -- it is not.

Glide officials claim she has also told them she wants the Glide Foundation -- which owns the building and runs all the outreach programs -- to have more traditional Methodists on its board


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