SMU’s Perkins School of Theology has named the Williams Preaching Lab in Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall in honor of Rev. Dr. A. Cecil Williams (’55, right), Minister of Liberation at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco. The announcement was made by Dean William Lawrence at a reception in honor of Williams and his wife, Janice Mirikitani, in November.
The state-of-the-art preaching lab is designed to support instruction and training in homiletics for present and future clergy.
Williams was in Dallas to receive a 2009 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University. He is a 1996 recipient of the Perkins Distinguished Alumnus Award and received an honorary doctorate from the University in 1997.
As a minister, author, social activist, lecturer, community leader, and spokesperson for the poor and marginalized, Rev. Williams is recognized as a national leader in civil and human rights. He was one of five African American students admitted to Perkins in fall 1952 in what was the first voluntary desegregation of a major educational institution in the South. In 1963 he was appointed to Glide Memorial Methodist, a church of fewer than 50 members in a declining section of San Francisco.
Today Glide has a membership of more than 11,000, representing a multitude of races, ethnic backgrounds, cultures, social classes and ages. The church has earned accolades for its embrace of its surrounding community, developing numerous programs to help San Francisco’s underprivileged to break the cycle of poverty. Its extensive network of services includes the only food program in San Francisco offering three meals a day, 365 days a year, as well as an outpatient substance abuse treatment and recovery program that has received national recognition as a model of innovation.