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Remembering Cecil Williams

AWTT joined San Franciscans and the nation this week in honoring the life of Cecil Williams, who served for sixty years as pastor of Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco.

When AWTT artist Robert Shetterly painted Williams’s portrait, he chose this evocative quote: “Death isn’t the greatest thing to be feared for it homogenizes everyone, makes us all equally dead. Most folks are afraid of living because abundant life requires risking everything to love, liberate, and accept yourself and others now. People are afraid of life for it creates diversity and requires commitment to action. To live is to struggle.”

Williams embraced the struggle for all of his adult life. Coming to the beleaguered Tinderloin District in 1963, he transformed the dying church into a robust community center, welcoming the most down-and-out, marginalized people of the neighborhood. He and his wife, Janice Mirikitani – along with many visionary partners and supporters along the way – built a safe haven for the homeless, the jobless, and LGBTQIA+ neighbors, as they were being shunned by society.

The Guardian reported earlier this week a message from Williams to his parishioners: “The essence of Glide begins and ends with love . . . It is time for me to evolve, it is time for Glide to continue to evolve. We have gone through so much and come out strong, ready to keep building,” 

Cecil Williams obituary at Legacy.com

View the AWTT portraits and short bios of Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani

Bring Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) original portraits to your community.