Open Letter to the Pastors and Churches of the California-Nevada Conference of The United Methodist Church Concerning Glide Memorial United Methodist Church

The California-Nevada Conference of The United Methodist Church has a long-standing commitment of support for Glide Memorial United Methodist Church’s work with the poor and vulnerable of the Tenderloin District and the greater San Francisco community.  The Conference’s commitment of support for this work stands today.  The concerns that I and the leadership of the California-Nevada Conference have are related to the church life of this congregation.

While there is a remnant of those who claim to be United Methodist and thus Christian, the great majority of the participants at Glide’s Sunday Celebrations claim other faiths such as Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim and Wiccan.   Atheists and Agnostics, comprise another segment of the Glide community. Leaders from these constituencies are quick to publicly state that they do not want the Celebrations, or the church, to be United Methodist or Christian in any form.  Sunday Celebrations are uplifting concerts, but lack the fundamentals of Christian worship.  Baptisms are conducted periodically but in the name of the people rather than from a Christian understanding of Baptism.  Holy Communion was done away with some time ago and only introduced back into the life of the congregation this past Spring, but outside of the Celebration gatherings and with much resistance.   We seek to be in good and loving relationship with persons of other faiths and beliefs, and those who claim no faith.  However, this should never cause us to lose our own faith.

There are also serious concerns about the governance and financial administration of the church. The church has no organizational structure to fulfill its responsibilities as per The Book of Discipline, and has not had a United Methodist organizational structure for decades.  The only body that functions in any leadership capacity is a group of congregational leaders hand-picked by Cecil Williams who have never been elected or recognized by the congregation.  The district superintendent and I have worked with this congregational leaders group and have found them on the whole to be thoughtful and helpful, but without authority to act on behalf of the church.  The secular Glide Foundation Board makes all decisions related to the work of the Foundation and the church, and now seeks to determine who Glide’s pastor(s) will be.  There has not been a church conference at Glide on record for many years.

Cecil Williams retired in 2000 yet continues to act as the senior pastor.  Since Williams retirement, the following have been appointed as senior pastors of Glide:  Doug Fitch, Don Guest, Karen Oliveto, and Jay Williams.  In addition, Theon Johnson III and Deacon Angela Brown have served in associate positions.  When Karen Oliveto was elected to the episcopacy in 2016, Bishop Warner H. Brown Jr. served as the interim senior pastor through June 30, 2017.  No pastor has been allowed to exercise their rightful authority or responsibilities while serving at Glide.  To this day, Cecil Williams and his wife, Janice Mirikitani, make all decisions in the background at Glide.

The Glide Foundation runs the business of the Foundation under the church’s 501.(c)(3), yet renders no financial reports through United Methodist disciplinary processes.  Appointed pastors are left to alone protect the resources of the church yet have no access to the full financial records of the church, nor do they have any say over the use of the church property.

Over the last 9 months the district superintendent and I have worked diligently to build a relationship with the Glide Foundation Board to determine a way forward that would both support the humanitarian work of the Glide Foundation and allow for the reestablishment of a healthy United Methodist Church.  The effort has been complex and difficult.  What is clear is that the Glide Foundation Board under the guidance of Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani, have no interest in allowing Glide to have any United Methodist identity nor to be accountable to The United Methodist Church

On June 22, 2018, I received a letter from Kaye Foster, Glide Foundation Board Chair, challenging my work in relationship to the Glide Church.  It included a number of misinterpreted paragraphs from our Book of Discipline.  What was most significant, however, was that lawyers Stephanie Petit and Daniel P. Dalton were copied.  Daniel P. Dalton is from Dalton and Tomich, a law firm that has been representing conservative United Methodist churches seeking to break away from the denomination because they oppose the full inclusion of LGBTQ persons.  According to their own website, they have done similar work with Episcopal and Presbyterian USA churches and now make themselves available to work with United Methodist churches.

My Cabinet and I with the counsel of our Conference Chancellor have decided to conduct an assessment of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church under disciplinary paragraph 213.  We ask for your prayers for this process and invite you to fast with us, as you are able, on Sunday mornings till noonduring the summer months.  May God give us wisdom and love in all things.

Sincerely,


Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño

Comments

  1. Typo Corrected:

    This same phenomenon** (footnote) seems to be occurring globally, and not only with United Methodists. We have choices in the manner in which we respond. Worse than losing our start-up experiment in the Tenderloin to an unsolicited take over, is the greater concern of becoming irrelevant. We can choose to not become irrelevant in the area of serving those in need. When you can’t beat the trend and the trend is your friend, join the trend.

    We’ve always seen Rev. Williams as tenacious and resistant to outside authority and we chose to overlook it. I know of no other minister that stays a full two generations in one congregation. The UMC did what it did with Glide Memorial because it was the right thing to do. So it’s no surprise that Rev. Cecil Williams has learned to build his own bridges and outreach to serve his community.

    Our gifts into the Tenderloin have born fruit in ways we never considered. Atheists, agnostics, Buddhists, Jewish, Muslim, and Wiccan are finding a common ground.

    We need to consider how to structure the common ground forged by Rev. Cecil Williams so it lasts long after Rev Williams and family are gone, but not forgotten of-course.

    The United Methodists are a young church. It needs to start thinking multigenerational in strategy. If we patiently relax and continue the good work at Glide Memorial, some day decades from now, maybe a group of ministers, wiccans and agnostics, will deliver a Sunday morning message, something to the effect that we share a general accord that the first manifestation of energy into this universe was a cosmic love from a source of great mystery. We chose to build bridges among those who stand before you today, so that those loving cosmic energies may continue. We are Methodist, Jews, agnostics, Buddhists, wiccans and Muslim. Let this be seen as our service-to-others over our service-to-self as we each honor the good to over come the dark.
    ——————
    ** Footnote … Global evidence to consider

    The Cosmic Christ https://youtu.be/8FGObtu-EMI

    All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Arthur Schopenhauer.

    This two decade old Vatican position paper entitled:
    PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR CULTURE
    PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
    PRESENTATIONS OF HOLY SEE’S DOCUMENT ON “NEW AGE”
    can be found at this link: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/interelg/documents/rc_pc_interelg_doc_20030203_press-conf-new-age_en.html

    There is a second link into the body of topics in Vatican’s New Age review with a good table of contents here: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/interelg/documents/rc_pc_interelg_doc_20030203_new-age_en.html

    It has always been my sense after reading this official Vatican DOCUMENT ON “NEW AGE” that the paper’s content will be amended, and is already being amended by church priests towards reaching out to, collaborating with, and morphing express church acceptance of most New Ager positions as more and more souls are awakened to the energies of the Cosmic Christ, the Law of One http://www.llresearch.org/…/the_law…/the_law_of_one_pdf.aspx and convincing archaeological discoveries as well as cosmological revelations as to our true DNA extraterrestrial origins.

    Everything is connected. Pressures mount as populations grow. The pressures for release of suppressed energy technologies (Zero Point Energy) is tied directly to counter productive, resistance by the greater priesthood. Resistance based on exaggerated parishioner chaos during times of change, is seen as false reason not reality based. Growing numbers are experiencing friendly UFO contact https://youtu.be/EKiE7kUJflg The CIA sponsored Brookings Report of 1960 https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/The_Brookings_Report conveniently suggests religious chaos may follow official disclosure. New Agers on the other hand proclaim… disclosure has already been made http://www.citizenhearing.org/ , let’s move on.

    An attitude of contempt is demonstrably stronger flowing outward from the church towards New Agers than from New Agers toward the church. Are these really the energies the Vatican wishes to resonate back into the world? Just read the DOCUMENT ON “NEW AGE” and judge for yourself. Where one might expect to find an outreach of forgiveness, tolerance and love flowing both ways there exists an unwelcome mutuality of unsustainable contempt.

    Perhaps I missed it, but throughout the Vatican’s treatment of the subject of New Age in the official links above, one does not encounter any reference whatsoever to the well known bible verse, which inclusion seems essential to a discussion of New Age: http://biblehub.com/john/14-12.htm “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” Does this obvious omission color the Vatican’s thoroughness and point to some unexpressed Vatican agenda? If so, what, why, and to what end?

    All in all the Vatican‘s current coverage of New Age misses the mark of the arrow one expects from The Apostles of Christ does it not?

    Releasing suppressed truths to the public takes decades of psychological preparation long past due in the church, with few church leaders comfortable in their understanding of the Cosmic Christ to explain non-dual consciousness of God’s universal love. An institution that took 350 years to officially forgive Galileo finds itself now called upon to get off the dime and act more self-sacrificially in the interests of world peace and prosperity, neither of which has been their primary historic mission nor purpose. But times, they are changing. The church of course has primarily concerned itself over our soul’s salvation, only if church dogma is incorporated with little tolerance for alternative interpretations.

    The broader human race on the other hand senses End Times imperatives accelerating the human specie towards extension, a proposition fostered within the church by the writings of cloistered monk Thomas Merton.

    Enter The New Agers

    New Age as it turns out, is a process of truth seeking, self-education referred to as “awakening.” It picks up the baton from Merton https://youtu.be/06X5HYynP5E and merges the process with experiential personal alternatives trusting to each soul’s inherit goodness to eventually seek the light and compassionately set aside the dark, as and only when the individual is ready…a process that inevitably jells itself unidirectionally over many lifetimes, into the positive light of the Cosmic Christ, the New Testimate of love, harmony and understanding, and into the great feast of life with Jesus. Though the sky’s astrological signs may change and the road is bumpy, it’s all heading in one non-dual, cosmic unidirection for the next few trillion years with or without the priests, and therein lies the hidden core of frustration from organized religion towards New Agers. All the octaves of creation form one great river flowing one direction back to the sea for recycling. https://youtu.be/tbruPR3o0Zc

    Each of these are provable and/or beneficial for truth seekers: Reincarnation, increasing synchronicities, looking contemplitively inward in search of truth, meditation, co-creating through group consciousness, the scientifically observed “meditative effect“ – – – manifesting positive change through positive group meditation when the square root of one percent (or more) of the population being changed through simultaneous group directed meditation is practiced (scientifically reported as “The Meditative Effect”), mystical sight a-k-a remote viewing, intuitional reliance, a realization that many things thought to be one thing can physically be changed into another thing in seeming violation of scientific laws of nature through inviting in grace and the holly spirit in a format of healing, the recognition in the power of forgiveness as a diplomatic tool for peace … these all require a positive magical, mystical belief-thinking-participation long ago lost to organized patriarchal western religions for the most part…. the welcoming of the divine feminine…service to others as distinguished from service to self…the cosmos seen as an organic whole…animated by an Energy, which is also identified as the divine Soul or Spirit. Much credence is given to the mediation of various positive spiritual entities…the power of good squared over the power of bad…humans slowly ascend through invisible higher spheres or octaves of existence, working with loving spiritual beings in guiding their own souls beyond death…there is held to be a “perennial knowledge” which pre-dates all religions and cultures, it’s most vital essence expressed by Christ…people follow enlightened masters but do not turn over sovereignty of their souls or give over their power except to God….this is very important in distinguishing the positive light from the dark side, and Christ’s true mission…each a compelling motivation to an alternative life purpose seen by New Agers as the living true Cosmic Christ hidden by priests who will only speak the narrow default orthodox language of churchianity… everything else outside official church dogma being rejected with severe prejudice.

    If you can’t beat them, join them. Organized religion sees New Age as the existential threat. A greater fear than yet even another church scandal, is the fear within the church of becoming irrelevant. In short, rather than lose tens of millions perhaps hundreds of millions of potential and existing church donors and followers, the Church will explore crafting, marketing and elevating a New Age interpretation of a loving cosmic order, the Cosmic Christ, another aspect manifested through Jesus, that does not reject the Historic Christ most of us were raised on. And this seems like a good thing to market as it links New Agers back directly to Jesus “the“ Christ if done cautiously and with compassion. I think we are seeing Pope Francis’ fumbling first steps in this realignment in his new 2018 movie, a theological realignment that will probably slowly evolve over the next few decades to the point that much found in the DOCUMENT ON “NEW AGE” in the two official Vatican sponsored discussion links cited above, become common and accepted belief within the church, most especially the unifying and healing grace conferred through our realization that Jesus’ last name was not Christ, that the Cosmic Christ perhaps started with the Big Bang.

    Pope Francis’ phrase “Children of Abraham,” in his movie is one such, fumbling yet understandable reference at unity…perhaps made more fearsome by End-Timers taking his words out of context. Had the context been fully provided, an 1100 kilometer road travel by Abraham http://abrahampath.org through countries at war today, would have emphasized a sacred road still in existence and used and thus beg the question, if Abraham could walk in peace, what prevents unifying peace among us today? Perhaps you in your own smug religious positions? Have we not learned to struggle out of Group Think tribalism? Are there no water carriers among us?

    But there is another more eloquent unifying voice coming out of the church working to bridge the huge G-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-ap of misunderstandings, a new voice coming out of the wilderness of New Mexico, CAC, Center for Action And Contemplation, by a humble, lovable, happy Franciscan Priest who is called to write entire books on the topic, beyond religious unity of dogma, and rather on spiritual unity and non-dualistic consciousness of the Cosmic Christ. Fr. Richard Rohr. Fr. Rohr is a natural bridge builder connecting us across an ocean of spiritual seas. Rohr writes as though he is citing many of the elements of New Age https://youtu.be/dHTty9l6Btw in an ecumenical meeting, or here where he carefully explains The Cosmic Christ https://youtu.be/8FGObtu-EMI New Age merges with Orthodoxy of the Cosmic Christ …. or was it always so and the church is just now seeing it for the first time?

    Rich Buckley, Pres.
    Peace and Conflict Resolution . org

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