Four days ago I had the privilege of revisiting a very historic Church right in the heart of San Francisco. They kicked off a three month celebration of 100 years of fruitful ministry to the city. The senior pastors of Glad Tidings San Francisco, Forrest & Christina Beiser are my spiritual parents. With them I served the Church and the city for about four years. So I was very glad to be back. We had a special time celebrating and looking back on all the great things God had done and all the pastors and their families The Lord used in the process.
Robert and Mary Craig, founders of Glad Tidings Temple and Bible Institute, were part of a religious movement that since the early 1900′s has become the largest branch of contemporary Protestantism. The history of this part of Christianity is remarkable, and so is the history of the development of Glad Tidings Church. This movement emphasized that GOD could be a part of every area of life, that GOD could be experienced, and that this experience would be a powerful tool to build your faith.
From its beginnings, Glad Tidings was identified with a succession of notable evangelists. In 1917 Maria Woodworth-Etter conducted a meeting at Glad Tidings that proved to be a major turning point in the work’s development. A decade later Robert Craig referred to the campaign as one that could go down in history because of the great outpourings of the Holy Spirit in San Francisco.
A similar remarkable event occurred in April, 1919, in the meetings conducted by Aimee Semple McPherson. At that time Pastor Craig had predicted a “ministry of an unusual order” for Mrs. McPherson, and he associated with her meetings in San Jose in August, 1921, setting up a Glad Tidings McPherson Campaign Headquarters. It was this meeting that Dr. Charles S. Price, also a later associate of Robert Craig, had a transformational, life-changing moment with the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps the most uniquely memorable of the evangelists to hold meetings at Glad Tidings was Smith Wigglesworth. He was a product of the great outpouring of power that occurred in the Anglican church in the parish of Alexander T. Body. Very often he made people run up and down aisles and even out into the streets to ‘act’ faith. His violent laying on of hands would almost send the seeker flying. But he was intensely sincere. Over a period of eight years Wigglesworth conducted three crusades in San Francisco.
Without a doubt, the most impressive meetings in the history of Glad Tidings Temple were those conducted in the late 20’s and 30’s by William Booth-Clibborn, grandson of the founder of the Salvation Army. “Born in Switzerland in a great tide of revival, he was cradled, as it were, in the mighty throes of the work of soul saving, and from infancy his life has been molded to great issues…” Many thousands were reached with the message of hope, hundreds being converted, and thousands were drawn into a fresh encounter with GOD. Mr. Booth-Clibborn’s ministry was distinctive and appealed to all.
In 1980 Mel and Sharon Johnson became the pastors of Glad Tidings Church. For 17 years they poured their lives into their church and the mark of their steady, godly hand is still felt in many ways at GT today. A great deal of debt and gratitude is due to the Johnson family for their faithfulness at GT, so for the “kick-off” weekend of GT’s 100 Year Anniversary, Mel, Sharon, Mark, Tim, Denise were all brought back – not only for them to share memorable stories but also to be honored for their timeless ministry.
Under the leadership of Forrest and Christina, God is still moving in San Francisco. Transformation is happening gradually in the lives of many. There has been many challenges, and nothing has happened overnight. But last year the Church was rocked by the powerful move of God during the visit of a guest evangelist – Jackson Senyonga from Africa.
Since then, the church has been marching forward at a pace that’s quickening all the time.
We can sense it. We can see it! We can hear it when the Mass Choir sings or when we run out of chairs for people on Sunday morning or when another fresh story comes out that declares that the same God who stirred Robert Craig to build this church — is moving again. HE is changing lives. Hope is filling the air. Faith is being built in life after life,
says the pastor.
At GT today, there is much more fire, more passion, more purpose than ever before. Blessed with the sweat and hard work and dedication of many before them, and building on a foundation already laid by numerous works of God, the gospel is being preached with more urgency, and efficacy. This “Glad Tidings” (Good News) is going out and being proclaimed in this beautiful city. Not with a bull horn or street preaching, but through the proclamation of hundreds of changed lives.
Go GT your latter shall be greater than your former!