A battle for control of a landmark church in San Francisco has ended with a multimillion dollar financial settlement in which Glide Memorial leaves The United Methodist Church but retains the famed 330 Ellis St. building it's been using.
The United Methodist California-Nevada Conference will retain control of a $4.5 million trust and receive an extra $1.5 million from the Glide Foundation “in recognition of the long-term and unique relationship between Glide and The United Methodist Church.”
In 1929, Lizzie Glide, a Methodist laywoman, started a trust fund to establish a center to benefit all of San Francisco and to establish a center for preaching and teaching in conformity with the doctrines of the Methodist Church.
Troubles between the conference and Glide Foundation began to surface after the Rev. Jay Williams resigned in 2018, less than a year after being appointed to Glide.
Bishop Minerva Carcaño said she attempted to replace Williams but the Glide Foundation refused to accept her appointment and prohibited the bishop from attending the church to make an announcement about the appointment.
The California-Nevada Conference and Carcaño sued the Glide Foundation in 2018 to preserve The United Methodist Church’s control over the trust fund. Carcaño stated that the conference sued because the foundation board engaged in “blatant violation of the trust clauses that govern the life of Glide.”
Two other United Methodist pastors, the Rev. Theon Johnson III and the Rev. Angela Brown, both associate pastors, were reassigned, leaving Glide without a United Methodist pastor.
The Glide Foundation countered that the conference and bishop were “willing to jeopardize the important work (of Glide) in what appears to be an attempted hostile takeover.”
The San Francisco Superior Probate Court and the California Attorney General’s office must approve the new agreement before it is final.
Glide Memorial United Methodist is one of the denomination’s largest churches. Its Sunday Celebrations are famous for their music and unconventional services. The church has a number of programs and outreach ministries for the marginalized community.
The removal of oversight by The United Methodist Church means Glide is disaffiliating from the denomination.
Carcaño told United Methodist News that the conference is doing a full assessment of the San Francisco Area in “hopes of establishing a United Methodist church that honors Lizzie Glide’s intentions and is the best of our values of personal and social piety.”
“We are grateful for your prayers as we have journeyed down this difficult road,” Carcaño said in a statement about the settlement. “We trust that the resolution of this matter will enable both the California-Nevada Conference and Glide to continue laboring in ways that will honor the intent of Mrs. Lizzie Glide, benefactress of the gift that called us all to service in the great city of San Francisco."
Karen Hanrahan, president and CEO of the Glide Foundation, said the decision is a major milestone.
“First, and perhaps most importantly, Glide will move forward free and independent, with no financial, legal or spiritual ties or constraints,” said Hanrahan in a statement.
Gilbert is a news writer for United Methodist News. Contact her at (615) 742-5470 or [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.
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