Glide Memorial Church Draws Thousands to Christmas Day Celebration Meal in SF Tenderloin – CBS San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Gospel singers in bright fuchsia robes sang “Go Say It On The Mountain,” a video by late Glide Memorial Church co-founder Janice Mirikitani released and thousands of people watched. enjoyed the camaraderie and a free meal at Glide’s annual Christmas Day event on Saturday.
On Christmas morning, volunteers helped provide 600 breakfasts which were followed by a virtual celebration streamed live on Facebook. Then festive meals including ham, turkey with all the trimmings were served from late morning until late afternoon. People ate together in tents set up as a COVID-19 precaution along Ellis Street in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. The event has been held annually since the mid-1980s.
“The pandemic has hit us all hard, but it’s definitely our community that’s been hit the hardest,” said George Gundry, director of the daily free meal program at the GLIDE Foundation. “It’s always a special day for them. Holidays in general are special here at Glide but Christmas and Christmas Eve are truly special days for the community.
“It’s better than opening presents!” It’s a gift that keeps on giving,” said Scott Roberts, one of the volunteers who, along with his family, helped prepare for the Christmas party.
This year’s holiday season is the first for the foundation since founder Janice Mirikitani passed away in July. Mirikitani founded the organization and Glide Memorial Church with her husband, Reverend Cecil Williams.
“(COVID-19) has brought us closer together,” Glide Celebration Minister Marvin K. White said during the online celebration. “This room is filled with so many ancestors, so much love.”
The Minister urged the public online and in person to “reflect on what radically Christmas means to you”. Wide spaces between people in the pews of the church visible in the video attest to the care taken by the church to ensure social distancing.
During the virtual event, the Glide Ensemble gospel choir sang holiday and gospel standards, including “Silent Night” and “Joyful Joyful.” The choir performed in front of a backdrop of photos of Mirikitani and a video she recorded before her death was part of the online presentation.
Food was served after the celebration.
“Our volunteers are really special people, they are very dedicated, many of them have been coming here for years,” Gundry told KPIX on Saturday. “The community is full of hope, the community is sticking together and looking out for each other.”
Glide Memorial Church opened in the city in the 1960s. The church provides social services and free meals to homeless and low-income people in the Bay Area.
© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Shawn Chitnis of KPIX 5 and Bay City News contributed to this report