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Beyond the Possible: 50 Years of Creating Radical Change in a Community Called Glide [NOOK Book]



With admirers ranging from Harvey Milk and Huey Newton to Warren Buffett, Maya Angelou, and Dianne Feinstein, Glide Memorial Methodist Church in San Francisco has been inspiring, infuriating, welcoming, and changing the world for fifty years.

Now in Beyond the Possible, the two founders, Reverend Cecil Williams and...

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Beyond the Possible: 50 Years of Creating Radical Change in a Community Called Glide

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With admirers ranging from Harvey Milk and Huey Newton to Warren Buffett, Maya Angelou, and Dianne Feinstein, Glide Memorial Methodist Church in San Francisco has been inspiring, infuriating, welcoming, and changing the world for fifty years.

Now in Beyond the Possible, the two founders, Reverend Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani, show how Glide transformed a dwindling all-white congregation into a diverse and energetic community of the poor, the disenfranchised, the homeless, the addicted, the mentally ill, the newly immigrated, and the politically passionate.

A vivid storyteller, Cecil describes removing the trappings of conventional religion to make way for a new spirituality—one that embraces gay rights, jazz in the sanctuary, the antiwar movement, and Celebrations that fill the church to this day. In prose as gripping as her acclaimed poetry, Janice recalls starting out at Glide as a nonbeliever in the 1960s who found herself drawn to Cecil's vision for social justice.

Soon we see how Cecil's charismatic power, combined with Janice's organizing genius, created a model for wraparound health care, a million free meals a year, apartments for the homeless, and a stand-up pride that confronted police brutality, riots, racism, and institutional bigotry. And we discover that Glide's insistence on inviting rather than avoiding controversy has revolutionized approaches to drug addiction, racial conflict, and domestic violence.

Both a personal love story and a riveting view of American history, Beyond the Possible demonstrates what is truly possible for all of us. Here is Obamacare with a human face. Here is Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision of "the beloved community" come to life at last. And here is a courageous couple facing impossible odds—and discovering the power of unconditional love time and time again.

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  • Beyond the Possible
    Beyond the Possible  

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Rev. Williams first visited Glide Memorial Methodist Church in San Francisco's notorious Tenderloin district in the early 1960s, immediately recognizing the opportunity to create a place where all members of the community would be accepted, inspired, and loved unconditionally. Cofounder, poet, and president of the Glide Foundation Mirikitani joins Williams in writing this beautiful, inspiring, and humble account of how Glide went from a dying church with 35 members to a far-reaching community serving thousands through service and outreach regardless of religion, sexual orientation, nationality, or socioeconomic status. In what is alternately personal narrative, historical account, and manifesto, the authors take turns describing their experiences at Glide, offering personal revelations (e.g., the church's effect on Mirikitani's path to healing after years of childhood abuse), discussing how social and historical events affected Glide and its community (e.g., the anti-Vietnam War movement in the 1960s), and describing Glide's response to a number of social issues (e.g., implementation of the Citizens Alert to combat police brutality). VERDICT Offering emotionally powerful, deeply personal, and self-aware storytelling, coupled with an emphasis on justice, equality, community, and love, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in religion, sociology, or American history.—Jennifer Harris, Mercyhurst Univ. Lib., Erie, PA
Publishers Weekly
The story of Glide Memorial Church’s transformation from a dwindling Methodist congregation in San Francisco to a thriving, justice-oriented community unfolds in alternating narratives by pastor and civil rights activist Williams (No Hiding Place: Empowerment and Recovery for Our Troubled Communities), and poet and founding president Mirikitani (Out of the Dust). Both authors recount formative childhood experiences that shaped their sense of identity and calling, and describe frankly their own relationship’s development over decades (from acquaintances to colleagues to spouses) in the context of their passion for Glide’s work. Humor, courage, and conviction radiate through these stories, which jump back and forth through the years, detailing Williams’s arrival and chilly reception at Glide and his determination to engage the Tenderloin neighborhood and welcome the marginalized (homeless, hungry, mentally ill, drug-addicted, prostitutes, LGBT folks) into church with a message of unconditional love and acceptance. Notable moments in Glide’s history interweave with non-chronologically ordered reflections on Trayvon Martin, the Black Panthers, Maya Angelou, the crack epidemic, racism, homophobia, and nonviolence. The authors’ persistent self-examination and honest recounting provide a generous, faithful window into Glide’s consequential ministry. (Feb.)
“Glide is one of the few radically accepting places where true unconditional love is practiced like the most dogmatic of faiths.…Beyond the Possible is the perfect title for an inspiring portrait of transformative love and a model for a jubilant revolution.”
Warren Buffett
“Cecil and Janice took a dying church and turned it into one of the most important social institutions that I’ve seen in this country.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062105059
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/5/2013
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 240
  • File size: 7 MB

Meet the Author

For more than fifty years, the Reverend Cecil Williams has been recognized as a national leader on the forefront of change in the struggle for civil and human rights. Janice Mirikitani is the founding president of the Glide Foundation and was San Francisco's second poet laureate. Cecil and Janice have been married for thirty-one years.

Dave Eggers, a former professional stundman, is the editor of McSweeney's and the author of the New York Times bestseller A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
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