My wonderful friend, Alex, has suggested that I write some blogs about Glide. Glide is actually Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco.
Alex suggests that I write about it because I was there as business manager and treasurer from 1970 until 1981. During the most exciting years. Most of the influential participants are dead and the two remaining have written a rather self-centered aggrandizing picture.
Glide was an extremely important institution at a time in American history when the hippie world that centered on San Francisco was shaping the global future. I am not exaggerating. One can easily look at my many blogs on hippies to see that they had an extraordinary influence on everything from food, to health, to fashion, to business and to technology. Interestingly Glide church was an institution at the very center of this globe shaking phenomenon.
History is often written as the consequence of trends and sometimes written as a consequence of extraordinary individuals. From my experience it is clearly both. For individuals, we can substitute institutions as well. The institution of the Protestant reformation had an overwhelming influence on history as did the Masonic order in promoting commerce. Both are institutions.
In this case Glide and the four founding ministers had an extraordinary impact on the world as I will try and explain in occasional blogs on the subject.
The name Glide derives from Lizzie Glide a religious woman who inherited vast sums from her husband's investment in Ventura County oil. In the late 1920s and into the ‘30s Lizzie built a church at the most heathen location in America that she could think of which was in the ‘Tenderloin’ of San Francisco. She put a rotating neon cross on the top of the the church building. In addition to her endowment she bought a nearby Methodist hotel and she also built the church as part of an office building with the intention of generating future income for the church.
When I arrived in 1970 the buildings and the liquid assets were substantial enough to maintain a staff of 30. I was able to grow the liquid assets at 20% a year while I was treasurer working with an asset firm.
The significant change in Glide occurred in 1963 when Lew Durham, a Methodist minister from a prominent Methodist divinity school in Tennessee was appointed to handle the Lizzie Glide trust. Lew brought out two of his fellow classmates. By 1965 the hippie revolution was beginning and each of these ministers began developing their own special contributions. At the same time they felt the need to actually have a church component and they brought out another Methodist minister who became the best-known of the group: Cecil Williams who remains there to this day.