Angela Reyes said she enjoyed every bit of the meal at San Francisco’s Glide Memorial Church on Christmas Day, not just the food but “saying hi to the staff.”
Reyes, who lives in a shelter in San Francisco, was one of hundreds of people who enjoyed a free meal with turkey, dressing and all the fixings as part of the church’s Christmas Day event, which has been held annually since the mid-1980s.
Michael Franti, the rapper and activist who was born in Oakland and rose to national fame, performed at the morning celebration that began the 10 a.m. event at the church in the Tenderloin district.
“That’s the beat of Christmas,” said Reverend Cecil Williams, who co-founded Glide decades ago with his wife Janice Mirikitani. “We beat our drums to bring people together,” Williams said via e-mail. “It’s a day of rejoicing. Joy to the world!”
Marvin K. White, the church’s minister of celebration, spoke at the celebration, as well as Mirikitani. Williams was also in attendance but did not speak.
“Cecil and Jan remind us often that Mary and Joseph were homeless immigrants on the run,” White said in a telephone interview. “We are reminded on this Christmas Day that irrespective of class or documentation status, the light and the Christ can come through anyone.”
The Glide Ensemble gospel choir sang “Gospel Hallelujah” and holiday standards like “Joy to the World,” “Silent Night” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” Food was served after the celebration.
Glide Memorial Church opened in the city decades ago. The church provides social services and free meals to homeless and low-income people in the Bay Area.