Update on San Francisco’s Glide Memorial UMC

Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco. Photo courtesy of Google street view.

By Thomas Lambrecht –

New action has taken place by the California-Nevada Annual Conference filing suit against Glide Memorial United Methodist Church over Trust Clause issues. Such action shows what might happen in the event other congregations try to leave the denomination.

In a previous post, I described the conflict going on between California-Nevada Annual Conference Bishop Minerva Carcaño and the 89-year-old Glide Memorial Church, on paper one of the largest congregations in our denomination. The conflict revolved around the fact that Glide no longer conducts Christian worship and is not faithful to United Methodist doctrine and practice. Instead, they have embraced a form of interfaith “worship” that encompasses atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Hindus, and many others in addition to Christians (and one assumes, some United Methodists).

The crisis erupted when the pastor at Glide resigned because he was not able to exercise full leadership of the church, unhindered by the Glide Foundation’s board of directors. Longtime Pastor Cecil Williams, while long retired, still appears to be making the leadership decisions for the church. Bishop Carcaño attempted to appoint a new pastor, but the Foundation board rejected the person. She then appointed all the pastoral staff to different churches, leaving Glide without a regular pastor.

Six months of negotiations between the conference and Glide have not yielded a fruitful resolution to the disagreement. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the conference recently filed suit against Glide in order to protect the Trust Clause and the conference’s ownership of Glide’s property.

The Glide Foundation board maintains that the conflict is about the conference trying to gain control of the millions of dollars held by the Foundation, 95 percent of which goes to support social service ministries in the community. Carcaño assures that the conflict is about making Glide accountable to United Methodist doctrine and processes and honoring the original intent of donor Lizzie Glide, who established the foundation in order to provide for a Methodist Church in San Francisco.

There have been conflicting decisions about church trusts in California, but the most recent decisions have favored the denomination. The controversy will potentially now play out in a courtroom that will determine the obligations of the Glide Foundation in relation to The United Methodist Church.

One hopes that this high-profile lawsuit is not a precursor to what might happen in the future if congregations try to leave The United Methodist Church. General Conference can alleviate this concern by passing a fair, equitable, and standardized exit path for congregations as a part of its actions at the February special session.

Thomas Lambrecht is a United Methodist clergyperson and the vice president of Good News.

Comments

  1. Isn’t amazing that one of the conferences who haven’t been following UMC doctrine has come to this? What did they expect, if you say it’s OK to not follow some rules, it is only a matter of time until someone decides to stop following something else. Serves Bishop Carcano right.

  2. Gary Bebop says:

    Traditionalists should remain skeptical of trying to cure The United Methodist Church with a thick soup of rules. A narrow victory for the Traditional Plan would not infuse the church with a greater will to enforce new rules. In fact, a narrow victory would be an ominous portent.

  3. My spouse and I have found a new church home that is based on John Wesley, and that is the Nazarene church in our area. They operate much like the Methodist church used to be, before they became the UMC. There is so much less drama at the church we attend. They hold the same values we do in regards to LBGT issues, and others that the progressive left keeps trying to force upon the UMC. I wonder if many people in the UMC will move over to such churches as the Nazarene, Weslyan or Free Methodist, because they are just sick and tired of this constant drama.

    • I am hoping that the Wesleyan Covenant Association is in contact with these other Wesleyan denominations, including the Wesleyan Church, in order to forge a new and powerful Wesleyan movement that traditional United Methodist could come home to, be at peace with, and move forward again in true grace, Christian worship, God fearing witness, and God focused holiness IF the General Conference adopts this ‘one’ church plan of deception.

  4. Gary Bebop says:

    Even though other Wesleyan churches would happily offer shelter to UMC refugees in a time of storm, such a move would be less than ideal (for many UMCers) and likely transitory. Each Wesleyan body is a “family culture,” with a peculiar identity, ethos, history, leadership scaffold, and family quarrel already in progress. Although the welcome mat would be out, UMCer should expect to assimilate rather than to colonize. There will be a new set of conditions to master (or endure). Don’t assume present status and prerogatives to transfer.

  5. Due to documentable religious trauma, Glide is the ONLY christian church I can enter without having a PTSD reaction. That the denomination sould take this turn is truly disappointing. Glide is fuly accepting of everyone and walks the talk daily. Taking money from them takes from the mouths of the homless, the shelters, children, social services. Their fundraising is independent of the traditional church methods and should be honored.

  6. Michael Deneui says:

    I would re-state what Jax said above. It’s the ONLY church I can enter without PTSD. You other people really need to open your eyes. Glide is the only church I’ve ever seen follow the principles that Jesus laid down. Love thy neighbor! Glide gives 95% of their money to support homeless, single mothers, drug addicted. Tell me what is more like what Jesus would want? Wake up.

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