San Francisco’s renowned Glide Memorial Methodist Church celebrated the 90th birthday of its longtime leader Rev. Cecil Williams on Sun. Sept. 22, 2019. The festivities included music, open-mic birthday wishes and a rendition of “Happy Birthday” sung by the congregation and visitors.
A historic video and photo tribute were featured as the choir sang “Touch Me.” Photos included Williams in the pulpit, in the community and among the many children he inspired. Black and white photos of Williams with his community activist wife Janice Miritkitani by his side, were also shared.
Choir members wore traditional African garb and dashikis, a salute to Williams’ choice of clothing when he preached.
Williams said he simply sought to change the world with love and his wife said he never put himself above anyone else.
For over five decades Williams was known for showing unconditional love to the marginalized in San Francisco. But Williams didn’t just share the love of God, he put his compassion into action by creating multiple outreach programs to house the homeless and feed the hungry.
While his legacy has been recognized by various celebrities, Williams leveraged his notoriety to uplift the Tenderloin community of San Francisco and beyond. Though his health has slowed him down, Williams is still strong in spirit as his church continues to serve the community with vibrance in full force.
Through the years, community leader Irene Williams Doss has witnessed what Glide stands for and made it a holiday tradition to volunteer every Thanksgiving Day.
“It’s amazing to see great community leaders like Rev. Williams have longevity and it’s an honor to bring my family every Thanksgiving to serve the less fortunate,” said Doss. “Glide represents true humanity and treats people with the love, dignity, and resources they deserve.”
After the service, congregants followed the choir in a procession to nearby Boeddeker Park to continue the day with a free community party welcoming the public. Guests enjoyed cake, games and had the opportunity to sign a gigantic birthday card for Williams, a man who breathed hope into his community block by block.