Beyond the Possible by Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani
Published: 2013 by HarperOne
Source: Received copy from the publisher for review
From childhood, Cecil Williams was destined to be a minister. Nicknamed “Rev” by his family because of his pastime of playing church with his siblings, there was probably no surprise when he made that his career choice. I would imagine the surprising thing though was that he found his true calling not in the traditional black churches of his youth in a struggling church in the sleaziest district of San Francisco.
Over the next fifty years, Williams turned Glide Church into an institution that welcomes and serves everyone, especially those on the margins of society. I’m not a religious person and do not belong to a church, but Glide is exactly what I imagine a “proper” church to be.
That’s not to say that I would be comfortable attending a Celebration (Glide’s term for Sunday services) there. That is my own failing, because Glide’s culture that allows anyone to interrupt the proceedings to say his or her piece is a real example of democracy at work.
Beyond the Possible documents the Glide’s evolution from the points of view of Williams and Janice Mirikitani, an early volunteer at the church who eventually became its executive director (and Williams’ wife). More than that, though, the book provides lessons to everyone about acceptance, charity, and justice. This couple almost seem too good, given all the work they’ve done and what they continue to do, but can that really be a bad thing?
For other thoughts on this book, please visit the other stops on the tour.