General Announcements

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/METRO◊◊◊  Mt. View House Shelter has opportunities for Congregations to share meals with their homeless Clients.   (Updated dates available to serve.)

The shelter is one of only two family shelters in Contra Costa that is for menwomen and children. Please contact Martie Steinmetz, Site Coordinator of the Mt. View House Shelter (1391 Shell Avenue, Martinez, CA 94553) at (925) 228-6920 or to help.

The Shelter has sign-ups through the winter, when the following weeks are available throughout the new year – and beyond.  Collect a group of friends from your congregation or friendship group and build an experience of a lifetime!

  • 4/25- 4/29
  • 5/2- 5/6
  • 5/16- 5/20
  • 5/23- 5/27
  • 5/30- 6/3
  • 6/13- 6/17
  • 6/20- 6/24
  • 6/27- 7/1
  • 7/4- 7/8
  • 7/18- 7/22
  • 7/25- 7/29

Please note that once these above dates have been taken, then Martie will begin scheduling for future calendar dates.  How will your faith community be a part of the solution for those at Mt. View this year?

+++  Monument Crisis Center Volunteer and Donation Needs

Hello Friends!  Happy New Year! We would love to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your generosity throughout this past year and especially this holiday season. Thank you for supporting Monument Crisis Center and for remembering us in your faith communities. From volunteering to food boxes to warm scarves and gloves and turkeys,  the list of thank yous is endless. Your leadership and support has helped bring cheer to thousands of clients these last months alone. But throughout the year you remember us and we are grateful to you each day. We could not fulfill our mission in the community without you.

In 2016 we are looking forward to continuing a collaborative effort to work more closely with our faith communities. Please feel free to contact me with any ideas you may have to help us eliminate hunger in our area and bring safety net services to all families in our reach. Watch for an upcoming date in April to attend our SECOND MONUMENT CRISIS CENTER ROUNDTABLE BREAKFAST and in September for A SIMPLE SUPPER. Details to follow soon.
Whether you are seasoned veterans at Monument or newbies, we invite you to visit us and see what is new this year. Please find below a few ways you can help right now. In honor of the Martin Luther King holiday let us be called to action. Thank you for all you do and looking forward to working with you in 2016.Contact me any time!
DIAPERS NEEDED: We have a great need for disposable diapers especially size 4, 5, and 6.
HAVE A TOILETRY DRIVE: Hotel and sample size toiletries loose or packed in zip lock bags as sets are wonderful additions for our clients especially the homeless.
HOST A FOOD DRIVE: Think proteins like tuna, chicken, and peanut butter. We will supply the barrels.
SENIOR MOMENT PRIZES: We host up to 120 seniors twice a month for bingo, lunch, blood pressure screening and grocery distribution. We are always in need of simple prizes.  
FOOD FOR SENIOR MOMENTS: Provide a simple lunch for 120 seniors at one of those Fridays.
Cheryl DeSimone
Faith Community Coordinator


+++  Contra Costa Interfaith Housing  CCIH Opportunities for Involvement

We need your help.

Interested in helping run a summer day camp for one week? We are currently putting together summer programming for kids (toddler through middle school), and we need your help. Many of these kids are formerly homeless or very low-income. In the past, volunteers (teens and adults) have organized small groups to host different “camps”. These activities take place at our housing sites (Pleasant Hill, Concord and Pittsburg) for a couple hours/day for 1-4 days during the week. Some examples include: hosting a four day dance camp; art camp; putting on a science camp; hosting a music camp. Feel free to call and discuss ideas or just offer general help to an already formed camp week. All camps are supervised by on-site CCIH staff.

Become a Volunteer Tutor: We are looking for compassionate individuals to help in our afterschool Homework Club that goes from August through June. Volunteers are needed at our Pleasant Hill, Concord, Bay Point and Pittsburg locations to help provide academic support to children from extremely low-income homes in grades K-12. Commitment is one afternoon per week. High school juniors and seniors encouraged to apply as well.

Provide a Meal for a Monthly Resident Meeting: These community meetings are essential in building community, reinforcing resident roles as community stakeholders, and allowing residents to learn important skills needed to continually improve their lives.  Volunteer groups prepare, serve, and share a meal for 35-40 people.  Families, congregations, service clubs, and other groups are encouraged. MAY is in need of a sign-up. Please visit this website to sign-up:

Seeking In-Kind Donations:

  • Diapers of all sizes (pool diapers too) for families in our programs at all 4 sites; Feminine hygiene products
  • Butane canisters for portable cooktops in our Lakeside Apartments community room where kids enjoy summer programs and Homework Club help.
  • Cleaning supplies for our Scattered Site clients (Comet; Windex; Simple Green, buckets; mops; etc.) Our clients are doing well at keeping their units clean and need support as they have little discretionary funds to purchase cleaning supplies.
  • Throughout the year, we provide incentive prizes to students for good report cards or demonstrating good school habits. We hand out $5 Starbucks cards to high school students and $5 Jamba Juice cards to all-aged students

Furnishing Volunteers: We need your help to make families feel at home. Our furnishings program provides homeless families with necessary basics of a dignified home.   You can help by providing your time to furnish these apartments or pick up needed items. We are also looking for a volunteer to head-up this effort. Current furnishings volunteer positions:

  • Inventory Helpers
  • Access to a truck? Transportation/Hauling Volunteer during weekdays
  • Furnishing Set-up Volunteer during weekdays

Volunteer/Outreach Steering Committee: Be a part of this dynamic and growing group of congregation representatives and community volunteers who provide ongoing guidance, support, and ideas for CCIH’s current volunteer and outreach programs. We meet six times per year in the evenings.

Contact Gloria Bertolozzi at

Gloria Bertolozzi
Volunteer & Outreach Manager
Contra Costa Interfaith Housing
399 Taylor Blvd, Ste. 115 Pleasant Hill, CA  94523

+++  Talks and Workshops on Judaism and Jewish Mysticism

Dr. Charles Burack is available to give talks and workshops on a variety of Jewish subjects and spiritual topics.  Topics include: The Three Pillars of Judaism; The Jewish Mystical Experience of God; Jewish Mystical Interpretations of the Bible; Chasidic Teachings on Spiritual Healing and Transformation; The Jewish High Holidays; The Passover Seder; Jewish Perspectives on Evil; Core Jewish Mystical Ideas and Practices; Jewish Meditation; Kabbalah and Psychology; Kabbalah and Creativity; The Kabbalistic Tree of Life.  Dr. Burack welcomes invitations from churches, ashrams, mosques, temples, synagogues, interfaith centers, and cultural centers.  A former rabbinical student, he is an award-winning professor and author, as well as an interfaith counselor and lay chaplain who is active in interfaith education and arts.  He can be reached at or (925) 405-7075.


+++  Community Center & Affordable Housing Update

St. Paul’s, Trinity Center, and Resources for Community Development Collaborate to Build a New Community Center & Affordable Housing on St. Paul’s Campus

Two years ago, we made a proposal to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church to build a new community center and add affordable housing units on the property currently housing Trinity Center. We are pleased to report that the parish of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, in recognition that their community service needs have outgrown current facilities, has been exploring the development of a new facility to house St. Paul’s Ministries, Trinity Center, community groups, and also provide essential workforce housing. St Paul’s development partner in this project is Resources for Community Development (RCD). The development of a multi-use building at 1860 Trinity Avenue is to be named St. Paul’s Commons.

  • An open meeting with Neighbors and the parish was held in October to share the proposed plans and designs. It was well attended and a lot of great feedback was received.
  • A formal planning application was submitted in November to the City of Walnut Creek, and accepted. A planner has been assigned to work with St Paul’s and RCD.
  • Multiple financing applications were submitted to various agencies in accordance with the funding plan for essential workforce housing.

We are excited to report the following approvals have been granted:

  • The Housing Authority of Contra Costa County is reserving 11 project based rental assistance vouchers for St. Paul’s Commons. This is a very important first commitment for St. Paul’s Commons that helps make the case for subsequent funding applications.
  • The City Of Walnut Creek, at the December City Council Meeting, approved a predevelopment loan to RCD in the amount of $800,000 to support the team in moving forward through the planning process.

Concept drawings:

Community Center2Community Center3

+++  Bed and Furniture Drive for Contra Costa Interfaith Coalition – Matching GrantCCIC Matching Drive - 2015

Responding to a desperate need for beds and furniture, from now until November 15th, all donations to the Contra Costa Interfaith Coalition (CCIC) bed and furniture fund will be matched dollar for dollar up to $3,000! So, every dollar you donate will be doubled for this great cause.

What are the beds and furniture used for? They are given to families leaving the homeless shelters and transitioning to an apartment of their own. This is a great way to provide a fresh start for many families.

The CCIC volunteers scour resale shops and garage sales for bargain beds and furniture. They work hard to stretch the dollars as far as possible, often getting additional discounts on their purchases.

Please be part of this wonderful opportunity and make a contribution to CCIC today!

Make checks payable to CCIC

c/o Leslie Dawson 7186 Briza Loop San Ramon, CA 94582 925-586-2396

CCIC Matching Drive – 2015

+++  Hajj and Rosh Hashanah: A Time for
Introspection, Reflection, and Rejuvenation

Islamic Holy Place

Islamic Holy Place

This year two important religious holidays coincide, with the season for both beginning this week: the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah, the month in the Islamic calendar when Hajj takes place begins tonight after sunset, and Rosh Hashanah began on Sunday, September 13th at sunset. Hajj is the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca which is obligatory on every adult Muslim who is physically and financially able to perform it. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, which according to Jewish tradition represents the day when Adam was created. The first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah and Rosh Hashanah both represent a time for renewal, reflection, and change in a positive sense. They also present an opportunity for increased ritual worship.

Both traditions reflect the importance of introspection at an individual level, and ritual practice at the individual and communal level. In our modern age of fast-paced lives and thinking, taking the time to engage in these rituals and age-old practices can be both challenging and grounding, creating a tension between the pull of our daily lives and the grounding of ancient rituals that may appear out of place in our modern world. It is that submission, first to God who in both faiths is the goal of these rituals and devotion, and secondly to the traditions which may seem out of step with modernity, which can inspire a true sense of being part of a tradition and history that is larger than ourselves. In an age when everything we do needs to make sense or be self-serving, it can be liberating to walk in the footsteps of those before us as we continue traditions that began with people who were greater and wiser than we will ever be.

Muslims who are not performing hajj are encouraged to fast during the first nine days of the month, and in particular on the ninth day which is known as the Day of Arafah. According to a Prophetic saying, “Fasting on the Day of ‘Arafah absolves the sins for two years: the previous year and the coming year.”   Rosh Hashanah is a time for introspection during which Jews reflect upon both their achievements and failings in the last year, share meals with others, and repent for sins at their synagogue.

Both periods culminate in important holy days and holidays this month; for pilgrims at hajj, the Day of Arafat on September 23rd is a day of supplication, repentance and devotion, while for non-pilgrims it is a day of fasting. The Feast of the Sacrifice, known in Arabic as Eid al-Adha will be celebrated on September 24 with special congregational prayers, new clothes, money and gifts for children, and celebrations collectively and as a family over the next few days. In commemoration of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son, Ismail, who God miraculously replaced with a lamb, Muslims will sacrifice a goat, lamb, or cow and share the meat with friends, relatives, and the needy, while keeping a third for themselves. The traditional greeting for this holiday is Eid Mubarak or Blessed Eid!

Rosh Hashanah is followed by Yom Kippur which begins at sundown on September 22nd this year, and is a day of atonement, fasting, and prayer at the synagogue. The days in between the two holidays are called the Days of Awe and are a time for introspection before Yom Kippur. Together, the holidays are called High Holy Days. “Shanah tovah,” is the common greeting meaning a good year!

For all those embarking upon this special time, particularly those performing their hajj, we wish you all a season of reflection, repentance, and rejuvenation.

Ameena Jandali
Content Director, ING



+++  Protecting Religious Minorities from Iraq and Syria

Please help the beleaguered minorities facing genocide in Iraq and Syria by contacting your U.S. Senators and representative to support two bills in Congress. One to declare that it is genocide and the other to protect the minorities. Links to the bills and locating your congressional leaders are at It says in the Qur’an (Surat al-Maidah 5:32) that whoever saves one, it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. Please also see where you will find links to Muslim colleagues and organizations speaking out against so-called-ISIL and other forms of terrorist extremism.

There is a similar teaching in the Jewish Mishna (Sanhedrin 4:5) that he who saves a single life, it is as if he saved the entire world.

FYI, these two congressional bills are a direct result of God’s grace and our efforts and the efforts of many many Yezidis, Assyrians and others. Finally finally. If you have a connection with a U.S. Senator that will allow you to transmit a personal letter from us, with or without a personal note from you, please let us know. We already have a connection to one senator, but it would be nice to have more.

ON ANOTHER RELATED SUBJECT, this resolution regarding genocide was brought by the Republic of Armenia and approved by 80 nations in the UN General Assembly, including the United States.

May there be a turn toward the light for those who are enduring brutal atrocities at this very moment.

Thank you for your love and support.  With prayers for peace,

Will and Pam

Rabbi Pamela Frydman
Reverend Will McGarvey, Executive Director
Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County

and on behalf of Marin Interfaith Council
Silicon Valley Interfaith Council
Interfaith Center at the Presidio

Rev Will
Rabbi Pam
Telephone 415-261-3404



+++  Refugee Crisis update from Church World Service (CROP Hunger Walk)

Dear fall walk leaders,

This season, we are witnessing an overwhelming and heartbreaking visual of what a walk means.  Around the globe, an unprecedented 59.5 million of our neighbors are “on the move” as refugees or displaced people due to at least 15 major conflicts. In Syria alone, more than half of its prewar population has been displaced and is in dire need of humanitarian assistance. To pan out for sobering perspective, this is cited as the biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

We walk because our neighbors must.

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The majority of you have reached out on an individual basis asking what CWS is doing to help….we cannot thank you enough for caring so much that you ask, advocate, and move in response to what is happening. Today, we’ve issued a second appeal detailing our on-the-ground response, and you can also find more information about how to get involved here. On the domestic side of things, a local news article featured our Lancaster, PA office as an agency that has begun resettling Syrian refugees this year. We’re restless to do more, and you’ve responded.

Already, CROP teams in the area have raised over $11,000 online through 30+ registered groups. These funds are crucial as CWS supports its current development programs while seeking short and long-term plans for those who find their lives uprooted. Thank you, again, for the good work you are doing.

As you walk this year, let every footfall echo the journey of so many.

Amber, on behalf of CWS

Amber Blake
Community Engagement Specialist, West
Church World Service
PO Box 31053, Seattle, WA 98103
Phone: 503.468.6220
Toll Free: 888.297.2767
Skype:  ablakecws

Fighting hunger and poverty.  Promoting peace and justice.




Sikh father and husband Inderjit Singh Mukker was brutally attacked recently in a Chicago suburb on his way to a grocery store. The Campaign to TAKE ON HATE stood with him in condemning this attack at a press conference and rally in Chicago yesterday.


The attacker yelled “terrorist” and “go back to your country!” at Mukker, who sustained several injuries, along with other racial slurs. He spoke about what happened before a crowd at the rally organized by The Sikh Coalition.

“No Sikh, no American, should ever fear a simple trip to the grocery store. I was attacked because of my brown skin, turban and beard. I was assaulted in my car because I am a Sikh,” he said at the rally.

Click here to see video of the press conference. 

Thanks to more than 12,000 supporters who signed a petition, a hate crime charge has finally been filed against Mukker’s assailant. However, this incident is not isolated. Hate is prevalent now more than ever. You can help #TAKEONHATE by taking action now.

From The Sikh Coalition:

1) Urge your member of congress to co-sponsor H-Res. 413, a resolution honoring the victims of post-9/11 hate crimes, by clicking here to send an email.

2) As Mukker recovers, we ask individuals of all backgrounds, to express solidarity by clicking here to send a message to him.  Alternatively, you can mail a card to the Sikh Coalition’s office at Inderjit Singh Mukker c/o The Sikh Coalition, 50 Broad Street, Suite 1537, New York, NY 10004.

3) Please share this story. Below is an image for social media.


Take On Hate

Nadia Tonova
National Network for Arab American Communities
A Project of ACCESS

+++  The Interfaith Climate Action Network wants to help you go solar!

Solar electricity is helping cities across the East Bay meet energy needs while reducing air pollution, enhancing resiliency and revitalizing neighborhoods. In fact, nationwide 36% of all new electricity in 2014 was from solar. That means every 3 minutes a new solar project is installed in communities across the U.S., employing more Americans than the utility industry and providing enough clean energy to power more than 3.5 million homes.

This summer/fall neighboring local governments throughout Alameda and Contra Costa County are supporting the growth of rooftop solar by launching a group purchasing (bulk-buy) program for homeowners.

East Bay SunShares pools the power of the community to get more competitive pricing from solar companies – with an additional incentive that provides even better savings as more people contract for solar on their homes.

Two local and recognized solar installation companies have been selected for the program through a competitive bidding process and are offering discounted pricing to residents.

In addition to the program’s discounted pricing and incentive rebates from the selected installers, a Federal tax credit that accounts for 30% of the cost of your system is available (expires 2016). There has never been a more affordable time to go solar.

There are already over 200 homeowners who have signed up for this opportunity runs for a limited time (August 3rd – October 31st). Residents are encouraged to join your friends, family and neighbors at an upcoming workshop to learn more about East Bay SunShares.

Contact Jan Warren at if you are interested in a workshop.

To register to receive a no cost, no obligation home solar evaluation and learn how you can save on your utility bill for years to come by plugging into the sun, visit the program website:

Together, we can build a resilient solar community – faster.




+++  Eastbay Area Reciprocity Network

Our organization is an East Bay wide time bank in which members earn and spend time for services. We are focused on connecting diverse communities to build mutual respect by discovering common ground as we share our skills, knowledge, and work together on group projects that enhance sustainability.

We presently have over 60 members ranging from Livermore to Richmond. A few people in the Walnut Creek area expressed interest some time ago, but opted to be contacted once we have more interest in that area. For more details about our mission, goals, and FAQs about how time banking works, please visit our Website:  We are affiliated with TimeBanks USA, an international organization that has promoted time banking since 1976. Locally, we are affiliated with Transition Albany and South Hayward Parish.

I would be very interested in presenting an info session / orientation for people associated with the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County as reaching across faith communities aligns strongly with our organization’s goals.

Thank you for your interest, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Saundra Hodges
Instigator, Eastbay Area Reciprocity Network






+++Emergency Operations Planning Resources

•   Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship

•   (Recorded webinar): An Overview of the Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship

•   US Department of Education Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center

Active Shooter Preparedness Resources

•   Department of Homeland Security Active Shooter Preparedness Webpage

•   FBI Office of Partnerships Active Shooter Incidents Resource Page

•   FBI Active Shooter Quick Reference Guide

Free online independent study courses for everyone:

•   IS-907: Active Shooter: What You Can Do

•   IS-360: Preparing for Mass Casualty Incidents: A Guide for Schools, Higher Education, and Houses of Worship

•   IS-906: Workplace Security Awareness Course

•   IS-914: Surveillance Awareness: What You Can Do

•   IS-366: Planning for the needs of children in disasters

•   IS-909 – Community Preparedness: Implementing Simple Activities for Everyone

All hazard preparedness resources

• – a national public service advertising (PSA) campaign designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies including natural and man-made disasters

•   National Preparedness Community Faith-based Community of Practice

•   SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline

•   Earthquake Preparedness Playbook

•   Flood Preparedness Playbook

•   Hurricane Preparedness Playbook

•   Tornado Preparedness Playbook

•   Wildfire Preparedness Playbook

•   Winter Storm Preparedness Playbook





The Emmanuel AME Church is a historic African-American church which traces its roots to 1816 and has a rich and deep history in the struggle for civil and human rights. This Church community which has opened its doors to so many people of any or no faith has suffered such tragedy as to break our hearts as a Nation and a people.

The members of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa Country stand in solidarity with the people of Emmanuel AME Church as they try to cope with horrifying murders of their Church members who were killed in a prayer service this past Wednesday evening.

While we do not yet know all the facts of this tragic incident, we must confront the gun violence and racism that continues to tear at the fabric of our society. As the story unfolds we, as an Interfaith Community, must pursue all means to eradicate racial hatred and violence from our society.

Places of worship must be safe havens for the oppressed, the hurting, and the stranger. We are certain the people of Emmanuel AME Church of Charleston, SC will continue to inspire us with their faith and courage.

The Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County calls upon all its member congregations to offer prayers of support to the people of the Charleston Community.

On behalf of the Governing Board of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County
Executive Director
Rev. Will McGarveyCharlestonMassacrepage




Green Jobs For Youth In Walnut Creek

The City of Walnut Creek is partnered with Rising Sun Energy Center, a non-profit organization, who provides free energy and water assessments and mini-retrofits to low- to moderate-income households in the Bay Area and Central Valley through their California Youth Energy Services (CYES) program.

The CYES program is designed to provide young people ages 15-22 with hands-on job training and a paid employment experience in the green industry.

CYES is still accepting applications for the position of the Energy Specialist.  Energy Specialists will receive extensive training; no prior experience with energy or water conservation work is necessary. CYES is looking to hire 5 MORE Walnut Creek youth!! 2015 Energy Specialist Employment Application

Energy Specialists visit homes in their community by scheduled appointment to help residents save energy, water, and money. During the appointment, Energy Specialists provide residents a basic energy and water assessment, install water- and energy-saving devices, and educate the resident by providing energy- and water-saving tips.  Energy Specialists always work in pairs and visit 3-10 homes per day.

Attached is out application and job description.  I am happy to come in and speak with any youth who are interested in the position.  Just let me know what might work for you.

I look forward to talking with you soon.

Best,  Molly McCobb
Regional Manager 
|| Rising Sun Energy Center
Tel: 510-665-1501 ext. 306 ||Cell: 415-385-6936
2998 San Pablo Avenue || Berkeley, CA 94702 ||

“Building Healthy Communities through Climate Solutions and Green Career Pathways”










Contra Costa EBT Brochure 2015 copy


























Contra Costa EBT Brochure 2015


Islamic Community Center #LoveNotHate event – courtesy Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona
ING Affiliate in Phoenix Organizes Interfaith Gathering Proving that Love is Stronger than Hate

The Islamic Community Center of Phoenix was recently the target of a hateful, bigoted rally disguised as a free speech event. In response, a crowd of over 800 people gathered at the mosque Monday, June 1st, to affirm that in America, we are stronger when our communities unite across faith lines and show love is a more powerful force than hate. The event was organized by the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona (ISB-AZ), an ING affiliate, in partnership with interfaith groups and other houses of worship in the area.Visitors brought flowers to help decorate the mosque inside and out. Representatives from many different faith communities spoke at the event and encouraged the crowd to make new friends. Usama Shami, president of the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix, noted that he’s received calls and emails of support from his neighborhood and from around the world, saying, “What this shows is that these bigots are the exception. This hate is the exception. A lot of people don’t have the same faith, but when it comes to the freedom to worship, the faith community as a whole stands shoulder to shoulder.”A lone protester stood outside yelling anti-Islam phrases. As the hundreds of attendees filed in, they waved and said, “We love you, too!”Here’s a roundup of news reports from the event:Faith groups hold prayer rally at Phoenix mosqueRabbis join interfaith rally to show solidarity with Phoenix Muslims

Phoenix interfaith community fills mosque targeted by bikers with “Love Not Hate”

Arizona mosque, site of anti-Islam protest, holds “Love Not Hate” event

You can view more photos at the ISB-AZ’s Facebook page.

Interfaith Power and Light
Encyclical ResourcesDear Rev. Will,A week from today, on Thursday, June 18, the Vatican is scheduled to release the papal encyclical which is expected to address climate change as a moral issue. It will be entitled “Praised Be: On the Care of Our Common Home.”Pope Francis and his urgent environmental call to action will provide a big boost for Catholics and people of all faiths who care about global warming and the environment.Click here to visit Interfaith Power & Light’s encyclical resources:
• Encyclical FAQ
• Anticipated key messages from Pope Francis
• Sharable social media graphics and hash tags
• A schedule of the Pope’s U.S. visit
• Call to Action: Take the Paris PledgeYou can utilize IPL’s encyclical resource page to advance your own climate mission and rally your members and friends to take action.

A papal encyclical is a teaching document in the form of a letter from the pope that discusses a wrong that needs to be addressed. This is a very significant event that will raise the profile of our moral obligation to address climate injustice, and influence the global climate talks in Paris at the end of this year.

Interfaith Power & Light and congregations across the U.S. have been hard at work for 15 years practicing what the Pope is preaching on climate action. We know first-hand that climate change is a moral issue not only for Roman Catholics, but also for people of all the major faith traditions — and people like you are busy putting this belief into action. We are grateful to Pope Francis for amplifying this important message, and we thank you for all that you do.

With interfaith hope,

The Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham
President & founder
Rev. Sally Bingham



YezidisYEZIDIS AND ASSYRIANS. Efforts on behalf of the Yezidis, Assyrians, and other religious minorities who are currently being forced from their homes, their women and girls kidnapped and raped. Thousands have been murdered and more thousands now live in refugee camps. The Yezidis are a Kurdish people who share an ancient religious tradition, while the Assyrian Church is one of the oldest Christian traditions.

Linda Crawford of ICP joined with the leaders of interfaith councils in Contra Costa County, Marin County, San Francisco and Silicon Valley in signing a letter calling for an end to the genocide. (Find a copy of the letter here.) If you have not already done so, please sign the statement of support at Copies of that statement will be taken to the Secretary General of the United Nations on June 16th. A meeting will also take place that day with Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican Observer at the UN.

You can learn more about the Yezidis at and Read additional reports at URI and



Contra Costa Interfaith Housing is looking for summer volunteers!

With summer quickly approaching, we are looking for help in the following areas:

-Camp leaders needed: Help run a one week on-site summer camp for 20-40 low-income kids. Requirement: 2 hours/day for a week (Mon-Thur).  You choose the hours and theme. This is a perfect teen project. Adult supervision will be provided. Locations: Pleasant Hill, Concord or Pittsburg

Water safety needed at Garden Park Apartments:  We have approximately 18 children under the age of 5 at Garden Park Apartments (GPA) in Pleasant Hill that we are hoping will become water safe. Are you interested in volunteering 2-3 hours/day for 1-2 weeks to teach a mommy and me class and/or water safety at GPA in Pleasant Hill? Current lifeguard, CPR and first aid certification is required.

Thank you for helping to provide summer fun for families in need. For more information, please contact Gloria Bertolozzi or 925-448-2004.

The season for Winter Nights ended May 4th
Fifteen congregations hosted Winter Nights homeless families, each for two weeks with another 20 helping to feed the 18 families, including 35 children.  We are very thankful for the congregations who supported Winter Nights with their social halls, food, volunteers and donations of supplies, gift cards and money.  The program ran smoothly under the supervision of Bill Shaw, our program manager, and his capable staff.  The Traveling Tutors made a big difference in the education of the students, helping with homework and providing a reading incentive program.  We hope to organize a similar group next year that will be able to help adults meet goals for money management and finding housing and jobs.   More than half of our clients found housing, but several are still on shelter waiting lists or are looking for a place to live.  This year has been particularly difficult because of the tight rental market in the Bay Area.  We are looking to replace our 15-passenger van which has had some mechanical difficulties this year.  Financially we have been blessed, ending this year with enough money to feel secure that we will be able to manage next year’s expenses.  A big ‘thank you’ to all who help to make Winter Nights a success.
Pagan Community Statement on the Environment
In consideration of climate change, we invite ICCCC members and friends to review, and possibly sign, a Pagan Community Statement on the Environment atat

It was drafted and has been signed by followers of 48 different Pagan paths.  However, people of other faiths have found that it reflects their concerns as well and have signed it.  It’s currently available in eight different languages, with more to come.  Thanks for your interest.


+++  Presented by M. Jawaid at Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley on April 15, 2015, Press Conference for the Yezidis genocide

Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Raheem (In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Most Merciful)

Salaam, Shalom, Peace, Good Morning,

At the entrance to Harvard University Law School is the following inscription from the Qu’ran

O you who have faith
Stand firmly for justice
As witnesses before God
Even it be against yourselves
Or your parents or your kin,
And whether it be against rich or poor,
For God does protect them both,
Follow not your evil inclinations
Lest you swerve (from justice)
And if you distort (justice) or decline to do justice
Indeed, God is fully aware of what you do. (Surah Al-Nisa 4:135)

Today I stand here as an ordinary Muslim, representing no particular group or organization, and like millions, perhaps billions of Muslims around the world stand up for justice no matter who commits the injustice or who the victims are.

My religion teaches me that all human beings are brothers and sisters with a common origin. My religion also teaches me that one who has saved one life is as if he has saved the life of all humankind and one who has taken one life is as if he has taken the life of all humankind. It is abhorrent that there is so much injustice in the world today and so much abuse of universal human rights. This is especially true of the Middle East. If we look back in history we can say generally that every religious community at some point in history had faced torture, atrocities and genocide at the hands of its conquerors. The world has faced 2 world wars where millions were killed. In other words the lust for power, control and wealth is the main cause of genocide. This is the fault of humanity, no matter which sect, religion or ethnicity they come from.

So, as a Muslim and as an American citizen, I add my humble voice to the voice of millions who condemn the abuse of human rights whether they happen against the Muslims or by those who claim to be Muslim, whether the abuses are committed against the Yazidis of Iraq, Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Burma or Sri Lanka, or Jews in Israel or the Muslims and Christians in Palestine. I fully support the petition and feel for the plight of the Yezidis. It is terrible and appalling to see what’s happening to them. As an American Muslim, I am on the side of the oppressed regardless of who the culprits are. I would also like to point out that we should stop calling Daesh as “Islamic state” or ISIS or ISIL, because they are NOT Islamic by their nature or behavior, Also I emphasize we and the media should stop calling Daesh Jihadists, because they are NOT engaged in Jihad by any means. Its terrorism, pure and simple.

Now, an essential measure to countering any extremist groups is to relegate extremists to the irrelevance they deserve. In this, we are not alone sadly, extremists contaminate all religions, no matter which region they belong to. Therefore, our frame of mind and platform should be on universal human rights and justice for all.

In my humble opinion the best approach is forgiveness — which resonates not only throughout Islam but through other world religions as well, embracing all in a spirit of reconciliation. I put forward few solutions which can start a rapprochement:

  • Understand the root cause of these conflicts from a humanitarian crisis.
  • Advance human rights for all people all over the world. (Without any political baggage or strings attached)
  • Negotiations and dialogue should be the way for peace in the world.
  • Cluster bombs, atomic bombs and chemical weapons should bebanned.
  • United Nations should play a more prominent and pivotal part indealing with situations like this.

In the end I would like you, to join your voice with Muslims around the world who are outraged by extremist terrorist groups that cannot be considered human and rob innocent people of their lives, human rights and free will. We pray for the defeat of extremism and terrorism. We pray for the safety and security of our country, the United States, and its people. We pray for the safety and security of all inhabitants of our planet. We pray that interfaith harmony and cooperation prevail both in the United States and all around the globe. And today, I stand together with all those brothers and sisters of all faiths for justice to the Iraqis, the Syrians, the Yazidis, and all the peace loving people of Israel, the West Bank and Gazza.

I end with a quote from Qu’ran.

“The servants of the Most Merciful are those who walk upon the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say words of peace.”

Surah Al-Furqan 25:63
Thank you. May Peace be with you all.


+++  Yezidis, Assyrians and others in the news:





+++  Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshis in the news:

Who are the Rohingyas?

  • Rohingyas are a distinct, Muslim ethnic group mainly living in Myanmar, which is also known as Burma
  • Thought to be descended from Muslim traders who settled there more than 1,000 years ago
  • Also live in Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan
  • In Myanmar, they are regularly persecuted – subjected to forced labour, have no land rights, and are heavily restricted
  • In Bangladesh many are also desperately poor, with no documents or job prospects

Myanmar’s unwanted people  Ten Deaths  Rohingya boat migrants call out for help  Myanmar Rohingya migrants trapped without supplies  Rohingyas and Bangladeshis risk perilous journeys  Burma’s Rohingya Muslims seeking refuge  Muslims in Burma’s Rakhine state ‘abused’ – Amnesty  Asia boat migrants: UN despair over lack of rescues




+++  Make It Fair
PICO, CA -and a larger coalition- on the Make It Fair! initiative that will make sure that our communities have access to more resources through an effort to reform the current commercial property tax reform. PICO California needs your help! We are collecting endorsements from the congregations in our network that need to be turned in by Wednesday. Would you consider signing the endorsement form? A one pager on the initiative is attached. Please let me know if you support this initiative and if you have any questions.
Here is the link to the endorsement form:

Many thanks,
Cristina Hernandez
Executive Director
CCISCO: Contra Costa Interfaith
Supporting Community Organization



The Madrone Foundation, an organization that provides fimage002inancial support to those in need at end of life, is working to create a special gift to the community by building a labyrinth in one of the Pleasant Hill parks. It’s a project for which I am personally volunteering because it will be built to honor memories of loved ones passed and represent hope and restoration. Not only will this labyrinth be used by the community in general, it is the future site of Kindred at Home’s annual memorial celebration, where those formerly in hospice care will be honored.

I’ve attached a 2-minute presentation on the project  It ends with an invitation to help us build this labyrinth. Any amount you give will help.  If you would like to honor your passed loved ones, for a minimum of $35, their names will be read at this year’s annual memorial celebration in June and permanently displayed on a plaque in the Kindred Hospice office.  Any donations below that amount will be listed in the annual memorial celebration for your remembrance.

Please make your contribution to the Madrone Foundation, the labyrinth sponsor. You may donate by sending a check to:

Madrone Foundation
c/o Rabbi Mimi Weisel
395 Taylor Blvd., Ste. 200
Pleasant Hill, CA  94523

or go online to  (All donations made out to the Madrone Foundation and will be tax-deductible. The Madrone Foundation Tax ID Number is 27-3139235.)

In advance, thank you for your support.  With your help, we can enrich the community.

Gratefully,  Mimi

Rabbi Mimi Weisel
Madrone Foundation Volunteer
Attachments area
Preview YouTube video Labyrinth GoFundMe 4 29 15
Labyrinth GoFundMe 4 29 15


Volunteer Opportunity:  

Uganda_Gay_Rights◊◊◊  Please consider helping an LGBT refugee who has managed to escape to safety. The LGBT Refugee program of JFCS/East Bay serves refugees who have fled their country due to persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  The program is eagerly seeking housing in San Francisco or the East Bay for three LGBT refugees (a young lesbian and gay man from Uganda and a gay man from Georgia) who are scheduled to arrive to the US for the first time in the next several weeks. Do you have a room in your home or know of someone who might? Do you know of an apartment manager with a low cost one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment for these clients? We are also looking for volunteers.  Please contact Carol Palecki at or 925-927-2000 x252. Learn more about our LGBT Refugee Services program:

Thank you so much!  Carol

Carol Palecki
Coordinator, LGBT Refugee Program
JFCS/East Bay
1855 Olympic Blvd #200
Walnut Creek, CA  94596
925- 927-2000 (x252)



e09ce1f4-398f-4232-abd9-4a28322ada33◊◊◊  Next Steps in Supporting Unaccompanied Minors and Families here in the Bay Area!

Many of you have been right there with us, actively responding to the humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied children and migrant families fleeing from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico. Since last summer, together, we have organized a number of strategies to address the needs, such as:

1) Material Support engaging 30 congregations donating food, clothing, gift cards.

2) Advocacy: visits, petitions and calls with key decision-makers to not roll-back anti-trafficking protections for children from Central America. Local advocacy to get $2 million from the City of SF and $600,000 from the City of Oakland for low cost legal help for unaccompanied children.

3)  Public Awareness generating over 20 earned-media pieces and ongoing witness outside the SF immigration court where children and families face the rocket docket.

4) Renewal of Sanctuary Congregations & Accompaniment Teams to provide support, protection, accompaniment and advocacy with individual families and teens.

According to government statistics, 1147 unaccompanied children were released to sponsors in the 5 County Bay Area in 2014. It is estimated that a greater number of children with their families also arrived and have re-settled in the Bay Area.  Every day there are new arrivals, as the fundamental conditions from which people are fleeing have not improved. They are living among us – as they fight for protection from deportation, and are very much still in need of our organized support.

We would like to share with you a set of next steps, determined in conjunction with our faith and community partners, and invite you and your congregation or neighbors to join us.


1) New Sponsors Needed for Teens:  Several teenagers are in need of sponsoring families as their original situations are expiring: (Ideally Spanish-speaking households in Oakland area so that the teens can continue getting support from their schools).Contact

2) Housing Options-  Nueva Esperanza/Migrant Housing Campaign  –

Affordable Housing for newly arrived migrant families is a critical need at this time.  This population does not qualify for refugee services, low income housing or most shelters.  So there is a critical gap.  We are seeking some creative housing solutions: rooms in religious properties that can be made available; landlords willing to rent at low cost; a pool of funds for emergency rent subsidies; renting or purchasing a house that can be made available for migrant families.  So far….All Soul’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley is making one room in their parish house available for those recently released from detention!  Read more about the ways we need to help create migrant housing options here.  Join our Migrant Housing Taskforce here.

3) Inform your Friends & Congregations about what they can do:

Forum:  Sunday, May 3rd-3-5 pm:  Supporting Unaccompanied Children & Families Fleeing Violence at Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church in Walnut Creek. Download Flyer here:

4) Form a Sanctuary or Accompaniment Team of at least 5 people or families who can provide extra support to individual teens or families: accompanying to court, helping to resettle, concrete and moral support. Training for teams will be June 6, 2-6 pm at Iglesia Presbyteriana Hispana High Street.  Register here

5)  Get to the Root Causes:  Join the Root Causes Delegation to understand why people are fleeing:  August 7-17 to Honduras and Guatemala.   Deadline to apply: May 5th, 2015. More info at
Thank you!  Please continue to pray, act and keep others informed!  Don’t hesitate to call or email me with any questions or if you would like a presentation to your group or congregation about how they can help.
Peace,Salaam, Shalom!
Rev. Deb

Check out our new website:

Immigration Blog still at:

Like us on Facebook: im4humanintegrity

Follow us on Twitter: 4humanintegrity

Rev. Deborah Lee
Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights
program of the Interfaith Movement for Human Integiry  (IM4HI)

1814 Franklin St., #325
Oakland, CA  94612
510-893-7106 x 324



Trinity Center Logo+++  Trinity Center

Position:              Volunteer Member Advocate
Type:                        Volunteer position.
Hours:                     Monday, Tuesday, Thursdays Friday: 9:00am –1:00pm and 1: 00pm-4:00pm;
Wednesday: 1-4pm.       These times are subject to change.
Pay:                          Volunteers do not receive compensation for services or expenses.
Benefits:                  Trinity Center does not offer health or retirement benefits for volunteer positions.
Documentation:    Completed application and Emergency Contact Form, a copy of current California driver’s license and proof of vehicle insurance.
Reviews:                  Formal reviews are not held for volunteer positions.
Requirements:       Experience preferred in areas such as counseling, communication and relationship skills, planning and organizational skills, life skills and basic computer skills.

Description: Intake Advocates are responsible for (1) registering new participants using the intake form, (2) determining and documenting the needs of the new participant (2) conducting a tour of the Trinity Center facilities, and (3) available for specialty guidance as experience allows and (4) establish trusting relationships with participants.

Intake Process:

  • Conduct interview and complete Intake Form, review Trinity Center services and rules, obtain participant signature on intake form and rules form. The advocate obtains and documents information regarding the services and assistance the new client needs. Specific procedures are contained in the Intake Advocate Training Guide.
  • Note:     Should a potential participant acknowledge that he/she is a registered sex offender they cannot be a member of Trinity Center and will be asked to leave the premises immediately.
  • New participant’s information is to be entered into the intake database and all completed forms are to be turned in to the staff Member Advocate.
  • New participants are to be given a tour of Trinity Center to familiarize them with the facility, clothing and food sheds, available services and the sign-up procedures and introductions to staff.

Additional Duties:

  • Sort and distribute participant’s mail
  • Circulate with participants when not busy
  • Report significant information regarding client issues, disruptive behavior, notable successes or unusual situations to staff; update participants files with any new information
  • Monitor phone and computer use by participants
  • Distribute razors, toiletries, and over the counter medications that are kept in the intake office
  • Conduct exit interviews
  • Attend monthly staff meeting

Specialty Advocating:

  • Experienced advocates can assist participants in needed support after the intake interview, such as housing applications, Social Security benefits, or other misc. paperwork, as needed. Specialty advocating will be supervised by the staff member advocate.

Additional Duties:

  • Other tasks and duties as assigned
  • Reports to the Program Director & Executive Director




Fight for $15

Help us get the word out!Help us get the word out!These guys are exploiting the crap out of people like me and my kids.

I’m tired of working for $7.25 an hour – barely enough to feed my two kids – while McDonald’s and the other big fast food companies make billions off of our work. That’s why I joined the fight for $15 and a union.

That’s what the fight for $15 and a union is all about. Fast food workers work hard, and we shouldn’t have to struggle each month just to support our families.

We gotta get more people speaking up and we gotta do it NOW. The best thing you can do RIGHT NOW is spread the word on Facebook and Twitteror just text your friends and family our website right now.

Share on Facebook   Share on Twitter

You also might want to share this with your family and friends:

Help us get the word out!

Our power comes from people like you and me. It’s wrong that companies we work for make billions, while we struggle every month to pay rent. Together, we can change that.

Thank you! We’ll be in touch with what’s next,

Adriana Alvarez,
Fight for $15

+++  Justice for creation: Water usage at St. Anselm’s, Lafayette 

In August/September 2012, the average gallons of water used per day at St. Anselm’s, Lafayette, more than doubled from 1500 to 3500. After noting this spike, the office administrator asked Doug Merrill, a member of the congregation’s property commission and an engineer by training, to evaluate what went wrong.

When asked about the spike, Merrill said, “I’m an engineer by training, and that means I like data. The first thing I did to find where all that water was going was learn to read our water meter!” Merrill eventually decided that the cause for that month’s spike was an unattended water hose, but his research about the congregation’s water usage inspired him to wonder just how much water was needed to maintain the physical plant at St. Anselm’s.

St. Anselm’s has six large gardens, and the biggest use of water is for irrigation.  In response to the drought, however, St. Anselm’s has cut its water usage to between one-half and one-third of what it was in 2012. Merrill and the Rev. John Sutton, rector at St. Anselm’s, agree that the biggest factor in the reduction has been exercising mindfulness about water usage.

Merrill noted that the drought came and was staying, and the congregation at St. Anselm’s were collectively noticing media pressure to reduce water usage. Although Merrill had a lot of data from trying to find the leak from August/September 2012, he also wondered what could be done to really reduce water usage — and he found out through experimentation.

“One of the most successful ways of cutting our water usage,” he said, “has been to throttle back what we use, and to then water incrementally. Instead of watering 20 minutes at a time, we may water in four five-minute increments. If there’s any runoff onto sidewalks, there’s too much being used. Our lawn had guidance on how much water was needed, but the rest was just experiments!”

Merrill and Sutton suggest using timers that can be programmed for increments, and don’t require spending much money. They also suggest coarser spraying nozzles and watering early in the morning or late at night to help abate wind blowing and evaporation. Merrill continues to fine tune the irrigation at St. Anselm’s, hoping for a good, even distribution of water — as needed — throughout the physical plant.

He recommends, “Keep collecting the data. Notice what does and doesn’t work, and make adjustments as necessary.”

Additional information is available from St. Anselm’s by clicking here.

Images (top to bottom): Water use by year; water distribution throughout St. Anselm’s physical plant. Courtesy Doug Merrill / St. Anselm’s.  See more at’s-lafayette




+++  Climate denial is immoral, says head of US Episcopal church

Climate change is a moral challenge threatening the rights of the world’s poorest people and those who deny it are not using God’s gift of knowledge, says presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori
 Episcopal presiding bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has called climate denial a ‘blind’ position. Photograph: Ed Ou/AP

The highest ranking woman in the Anglican communion has said climate denial is a “blind” and immoral position which rejects God’s gift of knowledge.

Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal church and one of the most powerful women in Christianity, said that climate change was a moral imperative akin to that of the civil rights movement. She said it was already a threat to the livelihoods and survival of people in the developing world.

“It is in that sense much like the civil rights movement in this country where we are attending to the rights of all people and the rights of the earth to continue to be a flourishing place,” Bishop Jefferts Schori said in an interview with the Guardian. “It is certainly a moral issue in terms of the impacts on the poorest and most vulnerable around the world already.”

In the same context, Jefferts Schori attached moral implications to climate denial, suggesting those who reject the underlying science of climate change were turning their backs on God’s gift of knowledge.

“Episcopalians understand the life of the mind is a gift of God and to deny the best of current knowledge is not using the gifts God has given you,” she said. “In that sense, yes, it could be understood as a moral issue.”

She went on: “I think it is a very blind position. I think it is a refusal to use the best of human knowledge, which is ultimately a gift of God.”

The sense of urgency around the issue has been deepened by Pope Francis forceful statements on global warming, which he is expected to amplify in a papal encyclical in June and during an address to the US Congress in September.

The Episcopalian church will host a webcast on 24 March to kick off a month-long action campaign designed to encourage church members to reduce their own carbon footprints and lobby government and international corporations to fight climate change.

An oceanographer before she was ordained at the age of 40, Bishop Jefferts Schori said she hoped to use her visibility as a church leader to help drive action on climate change.

As presiding bishop, she oversees 2.5m members of the Episcopal church in 17 countries, and is arguably one of the most prominent women in Christianity. The two largest denominations in the US, Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists, do not ordain women.

“I really hope to motivate average Episcopalians to see the severity of this issue, the morality of this issue,” she said. “Turning the ship in another direction requires the consolidated efforts of many people who are moving in the same direction.”

She acknowledged that the challenge was deepened by the strain of climate denial in American politics, and by continued resistance to science in American classrooms.

“It’s hard work when you have a climate denier who will not see the reality of scientific truth,” she said.

However, she, like a number of church leaders, said they had seen an uptick in climate activism in recent months, spurred by the pope’s comments last January, and the conjunction later this year of United Nations conferences on development and climate change.

Evangelical churches – once seen as a conservative force – were now taking up the climate cause, largely because of growing awareness of its threat to the poor.

“One of the significant changes in particular has been the growing awareness and activism among the evangelical community who at least somewhat in the more distant past refused to encounter this issue, refused to deal with it,” Jeffers Schori said. “The major evangelical groups in this country have been much more forward in addressing this issue because they understand that it impacts the poor.”

A number of denominations have also joined the growing fossil fuel divestment movement which is encouraging organisations to move their investments out of coal, oil and gas companies. The United Methodist church, the third largest denomination, dumped coal companies from its pension fund.

The Unitarian church and the United church of Christ have also voted to divest, according to Reverent Fletcher Harper of Green Faith. And the World Council of Churches has pledged not to invest in fossil fuels. A number of individual congregations have also divested from fossil fuels.

The Guardian launched a campaign on Monday to encourage the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust to divest from fossil fuels.

The Episcopal church has also come under pressure to withdraw its fossil fuel holdings. A number of diocese are pressing for divestment, and will bring the issue to a vote at the church’s annual convention this summer.

Jefferts Schori opposes fossil fuel divestment. “If you divest you lose any direct ability to influence the course of a corporation’s behavior,” she said. “I think most pragmatists realise that we can’t close the spigot on the oil wells and close the coal mines immediately without some other energy source to shift to.”



+++  World Council of Churches rules out fossil fuel investments

Campaigners hail ‘major victory’ as council representing half a billion Christians says it will rule out investing in fossil fuels

The World Council of Churches has revised its ethical investment criteria to exclude fossil fuel companies
 The World Council of Churches has revised its ethical investment criteria to exclude fossil fuel companies Photograph: Hilke Maunder/Alamy

An umbrella group of churches, which represents over half a billion Christians worldwide, has decided to rule out future investments in fossil fuel companies.

The move by the World Council of Churches, which has 345 member churches including the Church of England but not the Catholic church, was welcomed as a “major victory” by climate campaigners who have been calling on companies and institutions such as pension funds, universities and local governments to divest from coal, oil and gas.

In an article for the Guardian in April, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that “people of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change” and events sponsored by fossil fuel companies could even be boycotted.

Bill McKibben, the founder of climate campaign group, said in a statement: “The World Council of Churches reminds us that morality demands thinking as much about the future as about ourselves – and that there’s no threat to the future greater than the unchecked burning of fossil fuels. This is a remarkable moment for the 590 million Christians in its member denominations: a huge percentage of humanity says today ‘this far and no further’.”

The report of the council’s financy policy committee, published on Thursday on the final day of the council’s central committee meeting in Geneva, says that: “The committee discussed the ethical investment criteria, and considered that the list of sectors in which the WCC does not invest should be extended to include fossil fuels.” The WCC does not have any existing investments in fossil fuels.’s European divestment coordinator, Tim Ratcliffe, said: “The World Council of Churches may be the most important commitment we’ve received yet.”

Thursday’s decision only applies to the council’s own future investments, rather than its members, such as the Church of England. A CoE spokeswoman said: “The WCC decision refers to its own financial investments only and not those of its member bodies.”

The CoE has not moved yet to divest from fossil fuel companies but has set up a subgroup to take advice on climate change and investment, with a decision expected next year.

In May, the UN’s climate chief, Christiana Figueres, gave a speech to faith leaders at St Paul’s cathedral in London, calling on them to show leadership on climate change. She also said religious groups should drop their investments in fossil fuels, and encourage their members to do the

Studies have suggested the fossil fuel divestment campaign, which began in the US, has been faster than than any previous divestment movement such as tobacco and apartheid.

  • This article was updated on 10 March 2015 to reflect a confirmation from the WCC that it does not hold any current investments in fossil fuels.



+++  Bishop Swing’s new book addresses religious conflict 

In A bishop’s quest: Founding a United Religions, the Right Reverend William E. Swing explores the question, “How are the world’s religions responding to terrorist acts by religious extremists?” Part adventure story, part intriguing memoir, this book chronicles one man’s work toward inter-religious cooperation and active response to slaughter conducted in God’s name.
Cost: $22, plus $3 shipping
Cost: $4.99
Contact: Jerry Kelly,, 740.504.8206

+++  World Interfaith Harmony Week Wrap up Prayer Service

Interfaith Council hosted prayers for peace, harmony, compassion and loving kindness on 2-8-15.  Here are some pictures from our diverse prayer leaders.

2015-02-08 19.26.382015-02-08 19.27.272015-02-08 19.27.322015-02-08 19.33.582015-02-08 22.06.592015-02-08 22.07.202015-02-08 22.07.242015-02-08 22.07.262015-02-08 22.07.392015-02-08 22.07.42
































Advocacy Action Items

+++  Thinking about Advocating at a City’s Housing Element near you?  Here are some Interfaith Resources.

Housing Element Toolkit

Shelter Fact Sheet

Let Rev. Will or Jasmine Tarkoff know how your advocacy went or consult with them about city specific strategies.


Help support the needs of recently arrived migrant children and families.  The current need is HOUSING!

We are looking for:  Spanish-speaking families in Oakland who can provide a home for teenage youth.  People or congregations who can pledge to accompany and sponsor a youth as they settle and stabilize in the Bay Area.  Affordable Housing (short-term or long-term), rooms, or other rentals for recently arrived migrant families.  For more information, contact Ivan Medina:



The National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC) objects to the act of a federal district court judge in Texas who has temporarily blocked steps to move forward with new immigrant deferred action programs, which is delaying the chance for millions of U.S. immigrants to seek relief from the threat of deportation.

U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen blocked President Barack Obama’s actions on immigration policy in a preliminary injunction related to implementing the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program, which permits undocumented parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents to defer deportation and seek job benefits.  The program was blocked on the grounds that the Department of Homeland Security did not allow public comment on its rules regarding the execution of the program. Hanen’s injunction, which supports Texas and 25 other states that filed a lawsuit opposing the immigration reform initiatives, is particularly untimely because the deferred action programs were to start as early as Feb. 18, 2015 for some immigrants.

A Department of Homeland Security representative, in an official statement, said it will not begin accepting requests for the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program on Feb. 18. Also, until further notice, Homeland Security will suspend its plan to accept requests for DAPA.

This action by Hanen, who has before expressed anti-immigrant sentiment, is an obstacle for families who need to protect themselves from deportation. Immigrants must continue to prepare to move forward, despite Hanen’s ruling.

“This is a temporary set-back,” said Nadia Tonova, director of NNAAC. “We are confident that this decision will be overturned.”

However, the lawsuit is still a move against immigrant families and advocates in their steps toward reform.
National Network for Arab American Communities

National Network for Arab American Communities
2651 Saulino Court, Dearborn, MI 48120

Phone: 313-843-2844
Fax: 313-554-2801



Meals on Wheels Volunteer Opportunities

We really need help in East County delivering meals!  We have 8 open routes.  If there’s anything you can do to promote this volunteer opportunity, I’d be grateful.

The volunteer commits to 2 – 3 hours, one day each week.  Here is a list of our open routes:


My church in Walnut Creek adopted a Friday route in Bay Point.  We have 7 drivers, and we usually drive in pairs.  This means the volunteer will drive approx. 1 x per month.  Please share this idea with your community and/or church groups!  Groups are a great way to help!

My contact info is below.  Thank you so much,
Carol J. Louisell
Director of Community Engagement
Meals on Wheels and Senior Outreach Services
1300 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, CA  94596
Office Direct:  925-954-8736
To fill out a volunteer application, please go to:



The San Francisco Interfaith Council
Issues a Social Justice Statement

March 12, 2015

The fifty-mile journey from Selma to Montgomery, being commemorated today by the African American community and others, bears witness to the courage, conviction and prophetic voice of those people of faith who, fifty years ago, through their peaceful protest, powerfully proclaimed the right of all human beings to be equal.

The horrific treatment they received on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on that “Bloody Sunday” shocked the American conscience and moved countless citizens, of all ages, colors and creeds, to travel from the four corners of our nation, to join hand-in-hand in solidarity with those who suffered discrimination in Selma.

In retrospect, history bears witness to the reality that the arrival of those peaceful protesters at the steps of the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery was just the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. The journey to full equality has yet to be realized, both for the African American community in which the movement began, and for other communities.

Until we, as a nation, see an end to explicit and implicit bias, racial profiling, and roadblocks to education, employment and the right to vote, the dream of the Civil Rights Movement will not be fully realized.  Rectifying these remnants of discrimination is the task bequeathed to all in our time who espouse human and civil rights.

As recent events show, African Americans continue to experience the violence of racial discrimination. The San Francisco Interfaith Council denounces this violence, and joins in solidarity with those who march and work for full equality. We also hold, and proclaim to those entrusted with authority, that injustice for one is injustice for all.

For additional information, please contact Michael G. Pappas at (415) 425-9631.












Sufism Reoriented Choir at the Dr. King Celebration at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church Orinda




Dear Interfaith Clergy and Religious Leaders,

Please join us for Brunch and Briefing on the plight of the Ezidis and what our congregations and communities can do with very little effort to positively impact the lives of this ethnic and religious minority facing genocide in Northern Iraq.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 from 10:00 am to noon
Raine Room, Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County
1543 Sunnyvale Avenue, Walnut Creek

Please RSVPso we know how much food to prepare or 415-261-3404

PLEASE DRESS in a way that you will be comfortable seeing yourself on videotape. A documentary filmmaker will include snippets of our meeting in a 30 minute documentary on the Ezidis scheduled to air on PBS.

Peace and Blessings,

Reverend Will McGarvey, Executive Director, Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County
Rabbi Pam Frydman, Ezidi Hope, Bay Area Representative

* * * * * * *

BACKGROUND: Ezidis (also spelled Yezidis and Yazidis) are an ethnic and religious minority who traditionally lived in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Armenia and Georgia. During recent decades, thousands of Ezidis have immigrated to North America and Europe to escape persecution and genocide. Genocide has been perpetrated against Ezidis since the mid 1900’s when they numbered 24 million. Presently there are less than 1 million Ezidis worldwide.

Ezidis are not Kurds, but Kurds descend from Ezidis. Ezidis are monotheists with an oral tradition. Their authentic scriptures are being written down now. The Ezidi calendar is in the year 6764. Ezidi new year will be celebrated this year on April 15, 2015. The Ezidi faith story includes Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed and angels with similarities to beliefs in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Zoroastrianism.

The International Association of Human Values, a primarily Hindu nonprofit, provides relief and rescue in areas where Ezidis are suffering most. In concert with IAHV efforts, the Ezidi community in the United States founded Ezidi Hope, a fledgling nonprofit working to rescue and resettle Ezidis out of harm’s way.

Donations may be made to IAHV at Donation links for Ezidi Hope will soon be available at and

An Ezidi youth education website at teaches Ezidi history, religion and culture with no mention of atrocities. An adult education website is at and



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It is difficult to believe what the people of North America have witnessed in a week’s time. Crimes fueled by hate against people based on their religion, or their perceived religion, are on the rise. This is made clear by a string of crimes, which have all happened within a seven-day span.

  • On Feb. 9, Mustafa Mattan, 28, whose family emigrated from Somalia, was shot dead through his apartment door in Alberta, Canada.
  • The windows were shot out at a Muslim secondary school in Montreal, Canada on Feb. 10.
  • Three young American Muslims – Deah Barakat, 23; Yusor Abu-Salha, 21; and Razan Abu-Salha, 19 –were killed by shots to the head on Feb. 11 in Chapel Hill, N.C.
  • A Muslim family was physically assaulted while grocery shopping in Dearborn, Mich. on Feb. 12.
  • A mosque in Houston, Texas was lit on fire on Feb. 13.
  • A Rhode Island Muslim school was vandalized on Feb. 14 with the words “Now This is A Hate Crime.”
  • A Hindu temple in Washington and a nearby school were vandalized with hateful words on Feb. 16.

We at the Campaign to TAKE ON HATE, led by the National Network for Arab American Communities (NNAAC), a project of ACCESS, know you want to take action to prevent these atrocities from happening again. We can no longer afford to be silent. Lend your voices to our fight against hate and bigotry towards all people. Together, we can make an impact.

First, join us in holding community conversations to offer a place to discuss the tragedies and this recent string of hate crimes. TAKE ON HATE field organizers are available to assist you directly in the metro Detroit, New York, Chicago and San Francisco areas. If you’re not in one of those cities, you can still be involved by organizing your own community conversation. It’s easy! This toolkit will give you an outline of what to do. Then, simply register your conversation here and we will contact you to provide additional support.

We also encourage you to tell your story. A key goal of the Campaign to TAKE ON HATE is to empower you to speak out and make your voice heard.  Share with us your testimonies and personal stories of prejudice or hate – whether written, filmed, or recorded – here.

Add your voice to our call demanding the U.S. Department of Justice Attorney General Eric Holder and the FBI open a full and rigorous federal hate crime investigation into the killing of Deah, Yusor and Razan in Chapel Hill. Please sign our petition to help bring justice to these three vibrant young American Muslims and their families.

If you have experienced a hate crime, please report it. Don’t be silent or feel ashamed. These instances must be reported so that our voices are heard. See this resource by Muslim Advocates on how to report a hate crime.

Other ways you can help:

1) Follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@takeonhate), and share our posts and calls to action with your followers. Please always use the hashtag #TAKEONHATE.

2) Take part in our action alerts. Have you signed our petition to have the Chapel Hill shooting investigated as a hate crime? You can find that plus our other action alerts here.

The Campaign to TAKE ON HATE strives to address issues of bias and discrimination, particularly toward Arab and Muslim Americans, and stands against bigotry towards all people. For more information, visit:

Take On Hate

Nadia Tonova
National Network for Arab American Communities
A Project of ACCESS



unnamed (11)From the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council

On Recent Attacks on Muslims and Hindus

February 15, 2015

A week ago, people around the world were celebrating World Interfaith Harmony Week, a week dedicated to building peaceful relationships among the diverse religious communities of the world. SiVIC chose to observe that week with efforts to build compassion. We encouraged people in our community to reach out to one another across boundaries that separate us from each other, and celebrated those compassionate actions, as part of SiVIC’s commitment to build a more just and compassionate society in Silicon Valley.

So it is that we are especially stunned and saddened by the senseless shootings in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and by the persistent negative depictions of Islam and attacks on Muslims, both verbal and physical. We are grieved by the police beating of an elderly Indian man in Alabama, because he “looked black.” Nearly every day comes world of yet another act of violence, fueled by hatred of those who are marked as different.

The three young Muslims killed on Tuesday, Deah Barakat, his wife, Yusor Abu-Salha, and her sister, Razan Abu-Salha, were inspiring and active members of the whole community. Our entire nation is the poorer for the loss of their spirit, heart, and vision. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the families of these young people who are gone before their time.

Sureshbhai Patel was merely visiting his family, walking down the street, when attacked by a police officer, an attack that left him paralyzed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Patel and his family, as well.

We affirm our love and respect for our friends and co-workers from the Muslim and Hindu communities of Silicon Valley and commit ourselves to working together with them and others for a better future for all our children and our children’s children.

We renew our call for compassion, not only in our own community, but in our nation. We call on the media, elected officials, and social media to stop using language designed to inflame passions, divide people from their neighbors, or isolate any group. We call on our fellow citizens to find non-violent ways of dealing with disagreement, whether it be over parking spaces, religious beliefs, or political stances. And we call on us all to find ways to stand up against hatred, reach out to our neighbors, and affirm the worth and dignity of all human beings.

In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life and work we celebrated just last month, “We must learn to live together as brothers [and sisters], or perish together as fools.”

SiVIC Board


We encourage you to add your voice to the Virtual March for Unity by liking “Global March for Humanity” on Facebook and encouraging your friends to do likewise. Then find ways to build unity and understanding wherever you may be.


Looking for a place to volunteer and serve?  Look no further than! 


Many of our congregations and clusters of friends have expressed a desire of finding a way to serve together and to serve locally. Members of the LDS community have created a program called Just Serve that was being rolled out that was just for that purpose.

The site is and the intent is that recurring service opportunities are put onto the site and members of our different faith organizations could go to the sight, see the different service needs and opportunities, and sign up to serve.

Service needs that are recurring are what is really best utilized.  However, once there are more users to the site, we could put on individual service needs as well.  On the site, you would select a service opportunity and it would give you times and days the service is needed and allow you to sign up to serve in one of those times.

Please take a look at the site and if you can think of additional service needs to publicize, please get information on them.  As more participate we will accomplish the goals we have to bring members of our diverse communities to serve side by side and create understanding through getting to know each other’s hearts – which can be done so well through service.

JUSTSERVE.ORG is a recently launched free community website that matches churches, civic organizations, non-profits, and governmental agencies that need volunteers with groups or individuals willing to volunteer and help. The website links people to service opportunities in their communities. The guidelines of JustServe ensure that projects listed should not directly solicit donations or involve volunteers in fundraising, have a political focus, or be for-profit oriented.

The site is simple to use. Charitable organizations, non-profit organizations, churches and civic organizations may list service opportunities on There are no fees involved for organizations to list their service opportunities on the website, or for community members to locate and sign up for service projects. There is no limit to the number of service opportunities that can be listed on the website.

Those looking to provide service will also find the JustServe website easy to use to identify service opportunities. Just type in the name of the city where you would like to serve and local service opportunities will be displayed. Click on a project of interest, and you will see the details of that project. Faith organizations may wish to inform members of this resource.



◊◊◊  Mt. View House Shelter has opportunities for Congregations to share meals with their homeless Clients.   (Updated dates available to serve.)

The shelter is one of only two family shelters in Contra Costa that is for menwomen and children. Please contact Martie Steinmetz, Site Coordinator of the Mt. View House Shelter (1391 Shell Avenue, Martinez, CA 94553) at (925) 228-6920 or to help.

The Shelter has sign-ups through the winter, when the following weeks are available throughout the new year – and beyond.  Collect a group of friends from your congregation or friendship group and build an experience of a lifetime!

  • 5/25- 5/29
  • 6/29- 7/3
  • 7/27- 7/31
  • 8/3- 8/7
  • 8/10- 8/14
  • 8/17- 8/21
  • 8/24- 8/28
  • 8/31- 9/4

Please note that once these above dates have been taken, then Martie will begin scheduling for future calendar dates.  How will your faith community be a part of the solution for those at Mt. View this year?



+++  The Health and Faith in Action Committee  The next meeting will be on Thursday, February 5th from 12 – 1:30 pm at Congregation Bnai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek, 94597, 12-1:30pm.  We will have updates on Laura’s Law and chaplaincy at CCRMC, but please send me any potential agenda items, and I will get them out with my Feb. 3 reminder.  Bring a bag lunch, drinks provided. Please rsvp to this address (



Contra Costa Interfaith Housing: 

Our mission is to provide permanent, affordable housing and vital support services to homeless and at-risk families and individuals in Contra Costa County.

We are always in need of the following items to help us with our Homework Club After School Program:

1. Tutors! 1 hour a week is what we hope for! Make a difference in the life of a child. Locations: Pleasant Hill, Concord, Pittsburg and Bay Point

2. Small Toys for elementary age children to give out as incentives for good report cards

3. $5 gift cards to Jamba Juice, Starbucks or Dollar Tree for older children to also give out as incentives for good report cards.

4. Gift cards to Target, Walmart,  Staples, Costco or Safeway to purchase food for after school snacks and tutoring supplies.

If you want to help, please contact Gloria Bertolozzi, Volunteer/Outreach Manager:



◊◊◊   St. Paul’s Open’s Emergency Warming Shelter (EWS) December 11

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Walnut Creek, in collaboration with Trinity Center will host an Emergency Warming Shelter (EWS) for adults on December 11 from 8:00 pm to 8:00 am in their Parish Hall for Trinity Center members.

Guests will be asked to pre-register and to follow Trinity Center guidelines.

If your congregation is considering hosting an EWS this winter during severe weather, you may wish to attend a training session for volunteers before the EWS opens for guests.  To do so, please contact Sara O’Bryan at 925-212-2383.

If your congregation would also like to host the homeless on the coldest or wettest of nights, please contact Trinity Center for training and coordination as to whether you will be assigned single men or women referred by the Trinity Center themselves.



◊◊◊   Helping our New Afghan Neighbors in Contra Costa

A very important issue is hitting home in Contra Costa County, and we at JFCS/East Bay are appealing to you for your help and involvement.

You may have heard about Afghans who worked as translators for U.S. forces during the past decade, whose lives and those of their families are now being threatened by the Taliban. Some have been able to bring their families to the U.S. on a Special Immigrant Visa program; others are waiting to get through the various bureaucratic hurdles.

This past summer, JFCS/East Bay welcomed a surge of 66 of these refugees from Afghanistan, and the flood continues. We are very proud and glad to be doing this critically needed work, and we need help from you – our community – to carry it forward. I am confident that together we can rise to the occasion and respond with warmth and generosity to these people who have risked their lives – and are losing their homes – in their efforts to help U.S. troops and gain freedom for their homeland.

What do we need?

* VOLUNTEERS – We are seeking more people to help welcome families, get them around to various appointments (medical, benefits, school registration, employment), get their housing furnished, and generally help them get acculturated and feel connected in our community. Contact: Kathryn Winogura – 925-927-2000 ext. 529 or

* HOUSING – Finding safe and affordable housing in our expensive Bay Area housing market is a tremendous challenge for refugees, especially coming here with no local employment or credit history. We need various kinds of assistance: emergency or short-term housing in people’s homes (usually in-law units or cottages); affordable rental units; refugee-friendly property managers who will work with us with flexibility; funds for housing subsidies while people are getting on their feet. Contact: Amy Weiss – 925-927-2000 ext. 266or

* HOUSEHOLD FURNISHINGS – We continue to need beds, furniture, kitchen items, linens, and everything else required to set up a household. Contact: Lura Asregadoo – 925-927-2000 or

* JOB LEADS – The sooner we can help people get gainfully employed, the better. The translators have full legal status and are fluent in spoken English. Contact: Amy Weiss –  925-927-2000 ext. 626 or

* STORAGE SPACE – Up to now, we’ve managed to gather and disburse furniture and other household items from a volunteer’s garage, but that’s no longer sufficient. We need a storage space or small warehouse to meet the needs of our newcomers, along with funding support to staff it. Contact: Lura Asregadoo – 925-927-2000 or

* DONATIONS – Refugees need financial assistance, especially for safe and affordable housing, as they begin their lives here. We also need funds to ensure that our Farsi/Dari-speaking staff have sufficient time to help these newcomers get oriented to health care, schools, public benefits, vocational services, and other essential pieces of the complex picture. For financial contributions, please send a check to Shelley Waits, JFCS/East Bay,2484 Shattuck Avenue, Suite 210, Berkeley CA 94704, or donate online at Please designate your gift to “Refugee Resettlement.”

If you can help in any of these ways, please contact us as soon as possible. The needs are truly urgent, so time is of the essence. Please feel free to forward this email to others you think may be interested.  Many thanks for your consideration and assistance,

Andrew “Avi” Rose, LCSW, Executive Director
Jewish Family & Children’s Services of the East Bay
2484 Shattuck Ave., Suite 210, Berkeley, CA 94704  Agency Phone: 510-704-7475
Email: • Web:



◊◊◊   California Council of Churches Certified Enrollment Counselor available for health/holiday fairs! 

Many thanks for your support of the California Council of Churches endeavors with Covered CA over the past 18 months.   

We are now in a new phase of work, in that we received the Navigator grant, so we are looking for congregations and organizations that are interested in hosting enrollment sites in their buildings or hosting enrollment events, inviting people from the local communities to come to get enrolled in health care, either Medi-Cal or Covered CA plans.
If you are interested in becoming an enrollment site, please find attached the Site form and Enrollment Counselor form which need to be sent in immediately.  If you would like me to come to help enroll folk at enrollment events, health fairs, holiday fairs, please let me know.
Blessings and Peace,
Marijke Fakasiieiki California Council of Churches
Certified Educator/Enroller Covered CA
510-529-5011 •
Informational and sign up files:  CECInfo-2  •  SiteInformation-3  •  CACC Church enrollment request letter Fall 2014



     The massacres in a Jerusalem Synagogue remind us of the necessity to find an end to the hatred and animosity which continues to brew between those seeking legitimate claims to homeland and security.

It is in moments like this that anger can blind us in the pursuit of justice.  A condemnation of such barbarism is not enough.  Nothing justifies the slaughtering of the Rabbis and the devout in their moment of prayer.  Any hesitancy to condemn such violence borders on approval and consent. Yet condemnation is not enough.

President Obama struck a nerve for peace and hope when he recognized that peoples on both sides of the conflict want peace for their families and children.  It is sometimes difficult to find a voice of reason in the midst of madness.  Vision in the midst of chaos is crucial if any hope is to prevail.

While violence is never justified, especially outright murder, it is to be expected until people of good will not only demand justice but insure that grievances be redressed through uncommon courage and bold change of mind and heart.  Several challenges come to mind:

(1) seeking security cannot be at the expense of seeking justice otherwise the pursuit of security becomes an act of aggression;

(2) we ought not be surprised by violence in the name of religion.  The Interfaith Communities must study this phenomenon with the ambition to recognize the conditions fostering religious violence which is never justified;

(3) Interfaith Dialogue must move beyond emphasizing commonality.  Serious differences must be engaged encouraging change of mind, heart, and beliefs in the pursuit of justice and fairness.  Interfaith leaders must be willing to purpose that all references to religious violence in the sacred writings or official teachings must be confronted if not expunged.  No religious teaching is greater than another person’s life.

In particular, the conflict over the Temple Mount / Aqsa, sacred to both Jews and Muslims is more than dangerous.  As Moshee Halbertal of Hebrew University said, “When you bring the religious dimension, it absolutizes the conflict – you can divide the land, you can divide security, but the sacred is indivisible. … With the religion, there is black and white, either-or … .”  It is precisely this point the Interfaith Communities and leaders must engage as they are charged to purpose an alternative vision.  The Temple Mount / Aqsa, for example,  must become an Interfaith Center for prayer, reconciliation, and peace.  Here Abraham was called to spare his son, here Muhammad encountered the prophets of old.  Today this Holy Mountain of the Lord must be a place for the rebirth for the peoples of the region and the world.

Interfaith leadership must encourage all peoples, especially the religiously motivated, to move and grow beyond their self-interest for the sake of the well-being of all peoples.  Belief at the expense of life is death.  It is time to choose life.

The Interfaith Peace Project
The Board of Directors and Thomas P. Bonacci, Executive Director



◊◊◊  Volunteer Opportunities

Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano

Volunteer to help sort food or learn how to sign up people for Cal Fresh.  Contact?

SHELTER, Inc., Mountain View House

Volunteers provide and prepare meals to families in the family shelter.  SHELTER, Inc. is always looking for groups or individuals who are interested in volunteering.  Contact?  Facility Coordinator, Marites Steinmetz at 925-228-692

Trinity Center, Saint Paul’s Parish 

Prepare and serve a meal to homeless and working poor. Volunteers can set-up, cook, serve, or clean up.  Contact?



Below is a list of partner agencies in the Contra Costa Interagency Council on Homelessness and their donation wish lists. These are items that can be donated throughout the year.

Behavioral Health Services

  • Clothing: socks, t-shirts, caps/visors
  • Sunglasses
  • Hygiene products: shampoo, soap, lip balm, deodorant, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, insect repellent, feminine products

Greater Richmond Interfaith Program Family Shelter

  • New high chairs
  • New car seats
  • New twin sized bed sheets New twin sized comforters New standard sized pillows

Rubicon Programs

  • Small pre-bagged toiletry kits New unwrapped toys


  • Diapers of all sizes (diapers can be dropped off at either Open House or at the main office located at 1815 Arnold Drive in Martinez)

Trinity Center

  • Non-perishable food items Clothing
  • Blankets
  • Warm coats
  • Holiday gift cards

Winter Nights Shelter

  • Gas cards
  • Wal-Mart or Target gift cards
  • Deodorant (men’s and women’s)
  • Lysol or Clorox wipes
  • Socks (all sizes: infants, toddlers, children, adults) Baby wipes
  • Flashlights
  • Extra batteries (every kind)
  • Unused BART or Bus tickets to help our clients



◊◊◊  Earn it, Save it, Keep it!  Help people get all of the tax returns they are due.

Many of you know that the United Way Earn It, Save It, Keep It (EKS) campaign is kicking off in Contra Costa County again to provide free tax assistance to low-income working families and individuals to help them claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other credits that they are due.  Tax preparers, greeters, screeners, reviewers and support for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) tax sites are needed! The EITC is one of the most effective anti-poverty strategies in the country.

Attached is a letter from County Administrator David Twa supporting this effort.  The letter also contains information about volunteering and available training as well as where you can get more information.  Also attached is a description of the various positions needed to support this important campaign.  Please pass on to your relevant networks! Live Scan Fingerprints◊◊◊   Do you need to do background checks for your childcare and Religious School Volunteers?
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Interfaith Power & Light is happy to offer free online kits for your congregation to help you educate and inspire people about their food choices and help them understand the climate and faith connections.

unnamedHost a Cool Harvest potluck for your friends or faith community, to raise awareness about our food system and how our food choices affect the climate.

Click here to receive the free online kit, 5 Easy Steps to Hosting a Cool Potluck. It provides tips for organizers and potluck chefs, table blessings, and much more.

Or, you might consider hosting a film screening with our Cool Harvest Movie Kit. Or combine them for dinner and a movie! Our Cool Harvest movie kit includes a selection of excellent and informative films and discussion guides from Fed Up, Food Inc., A Place at the Table, and Nourish.

Eating in ways that are healthy for our bodies is also good for the environment. It is also a perfect fit for faith communities concerned about global warming.

Modern agribusiness — that favors toxic pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, GMO foods (genetically modified), distant farm-to-plate transportation, and the factory farming of animals — exacts a heavy toll on the atmosphere. It is estimated that nearly one-fifth of climate change pollution comes from the food industry.


A Newsletter of the Multi-faith A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition
(Advocates & Communities Taking Initiative 4 Our Neighbors)

“Looking at problems of poverty from all directions.”
– Stated a Multi-faith A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition member expressing an accomplishment of our new organization.

We are proud of the strides we have made this year as faith-based communities coming together to discuss poverty in our county and what we could do to make a difference long-term. We put this newsletter together to share some of the work that has been started. Many people, all volunteers, have put in countless hours.  We recognize what we have done so far; we recognize this progress and we recognize that there is much to be done.

The Steering Committee brainstormed many goals for 2014-2015 including:

  • Take concrete actions;
  • Increase the number of congregants involved;
  • Keep everyone connected through more communications;
  • Be clear and mindful of our goal –
    to fight and eradicate the root causes of poverty.

Please review this email and think about how you can join our efforts. Click on one of the links in this newsletter to join the Multi-faithAdvocates & Communities Taking Initiative 4 Our Neighbors Coalition

In Peace,

Jasmine Tarkoff  & Rev. Will McGarvey
Co-Chairs of the Multi-faith A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition

Multi-faith A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition:

  • Over 50 faith institutions
  • Representing over 26,000 congregants
  • 100’s of clergy, ministers and lay leaders
  • 600 faith members on our email list
FIRST ACTION ALERT – Doctors Medical Center (DMC)In July 2014, the Multi-faith A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition asked congregants throughout Contra Costa to take action to save Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo.Problem: this hospital facility faces imminent closure.  Over 40,000 annual patients will have to travel to get medical care.  Poor medical care is one result of poverty and one cause of poverty.Coalition action: Through the Coalition’s Health Task Force,sample letters were distributed and hundreds of residents responded by sending their letters of support to authorities in SacramentoRecommendation: DMC to become a satellite emergency department under the county’s jurisdiction. It would then be within the county public hospital system and eligible for a higher reimbursement rate.  This higher rate would improve DMC’s current finances.  This alternative is subject to the approval of the California Department of Health.Goal: Our goal is to keep medical services accessible to the 40,000 patients who were seen at DMC last year.Progress:  The Multi-faith A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition has shown decision makers that it can mobilize hundreds of residents; these residents care about fighting poverty.   Close to 500 letters were sent in support of DMC.  And just this past week the Governor signed a bill to fund DMC $3 million to allow more time to find a solution.
Problem: Hunger, poor nutrition.Coalition:  The Coalition recognized that there were many low-income individuals and families eligible federal food subsidies but who were not enrolled in a “Cal Fresh” program.  (“Cal Fresh” has replaced “food stamps.”)Recommendation and goal: Find out why enrollment is low.  Increase enrollment.Progress:  Starting in February 2014, volunteers from the faith community have been working to increase Cal Fresh enrollment and thereby provide food purchasing power to low-income residents.  Over 100 people volunteered to help.The Coalition’s Food Security Task Force, through partnering with several organizations, has raised awareness of the problem, helped increase the locations where applicants are approached, rallied support for additional county workers to process the applicants and studied how to change the administrative process to make it better.  If that sounds like a lot of work, it is.This work has a direct impact on those living in poverty and the county at large. For every $1.00 spent in the Cal Fresh program, $1.70 is generated in the local economy.The Cal Fresh Partner Working Group has a specific plan for 2014-15 to increase enrollment by 10,000.  If you would like to join this effort, go to our Food Security Task Force Volunteer Form.
Problem:  No employment and under-employment.  Lack of job opportunities and lack of job skills.Coalition action:  In August 2014, the Coalition’s Jobs Task Force sponsored a luncheon/meeting in East Contra Costa County.  The meeting was titled “Dignity of Work.”  Participants included non-profit organizations already working towards the goal of helping Contra Costa residents regain the dignity of work.Presentations described the work of these organizations and what Coalition congregants could do to participate.  Organizations had a chance to network with each other.  A survey of participants showed that 85% felt that the meeting met their expectations and the information was helpful.These organizations need mentors and volunteers to help Contra Costa residents in seeking employment and developing job readiness skills.   Volunteer opportunities are available at all levels and this is a very real way we can participate to end the cycle of poverty.If you are interested in participating on the Jobs Task Force or volunteering for any of these organizations, go to Jobs Task Force Volunteer Form.
Problem: The complexity of these issues cannot be overstated.  Many faith communities already participate in short term and temporary services; we want to see a more lasting impact.Coalition action:  The Coalition’s Housing and Shelter Task Force, in conjunction with non-profit and government professionals who have years of experience in the field, is emphasizing informing the community of the facts about homelessness.  For example, the County’s current housing inventory is:

  • 410 Emergency Shelter Beds
  • 648 Transitional Housing Beds
  • 867 Permanent Supportive Housing Units

On any given night, there are nearly 4,000 individuals homeless in Contra Costa County.  Obviously, the numbers don’t add up well for the homeless in our County.

Recommendation:  It has been proven that placing a person or family in housing as a first priority will give them the foothold they need to resolve other issues that have led to their homelessness.

Goal: It is urgent that the housing inventory be increased.  We can start by identifying more homes to place families in.  If you are a property owner, manager or contractor, your participation is critical. If you are interested in helping with the work of this Task Force, contact us through our  Housing and Shelter Volunteer Form.

Goal:  The Housing and Shelter Task Force wants to promote an expansion of the Housing First model by supporting “Zero: 2016.”  More information about this will be coming out in the weeks ahead.

For more information on the current situation, click here.

The work of the Multi-faith A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition can only get done if people of faith join our dialogue and call for action.  Add your expertise and knowledge to one of the Task Forces.  Also, we need help from people experienced in graphics, event coordination, minute taking and communication.  Please answer this call by going to
WE CAN VISIT YOUR CONGREGATION!Multi-faith A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition would like to come to your house of worship.
In recent weeks we have visited:
  • Lafayette Christian Church
  • Temple Isaiah
  • Lafayette Orinda Presbyterian Church
  • St. Bonaventure Church

Speakers cover general poverty information, the Multi-faith A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition, the specific Task Forces and how congregants can get involved.

Please contact our Congregational Outreach person, Ken Sargent if you would like the Coalition to make a presentation at your faith organization.

A Renewed Call to Sanctuary:  An invitation to discern becoming a Sanctuary Congregation

In this moment in which over 100,000 children and refugee families in 2014 have sought safety and protection in our country, we are called anew to provide Sanctuary.  In this moment when our country is on track to deport well over 300,000 people this year, with hundreds of thousands more families stuck in emotionally and financially taxing deportation proceedings, we are called anew to provide Sanctuary.

What is Sanctuary?

The Call to Sanctuary is a deeply rooted tradition: from the Underground Railroad assisting runaway slaves; providing safe haven to US soldiers refusing to return to the Vietnam War; Sanctuary to Chilean and Argentinian refugees in the 1970’s; Central Americans in the 1980s-90s; and the New Sanctuary Movement in 2007 protecting and lifting up the stories of families facing deportation, launched by CLUE CA and affiliates of Interfaith Worker Justice. Read more about the history of sanctuary in which people of faith risked to answer the call to protect human life and human freedom.

Why Now?

Today, in 2014, despite many years of growing accompaniment, grassroots organizing and powerful advocacy for a meaningful, compassionate immigration process, the system remains badly broken. Deportations have continued at an alarming rate. Families have remained separated across borders for decades and sometimes indefinitely. There is no path to residency or citizenship for 11 million undocumented people. Despite prominent political posturing, there is still not even a Dream Act. Although public opinion polls indicate strong support for immigration reforms, the United States Congress and the President have failed to act and stop the massive numbers of heartbreaking deportations and detentions.

The Exodus of Central American children and families arriving at U.S. borders seeking refuge this summer has illuminated the failure to address root causes of migration. Instead of accepting those seeking safety as refugees, the Federal Government is detaining unaccompanied children and families and expediting their deportation processes without adequate legal support or due process.

What faith communities can do:

As a response to this crisis and the failure of the government to act, faith communities are declaring themselves Sanctuaries: public, corporate acts to protect, support and advocate. This week, over two dozen congregations in 10 states have publicly declared Sanctuary. At the same time, 60 more faith communities across the country are supporting Sanctuary. Read NBC News: Clergy Call For Sanctuary for Immigrants Facing Deportation.

The Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (CLUE CA) will inform and resource congregations in California considering how to respond to the Call for Sanctuary.
Please check out several exciting upcoming events and resources below!  Thanks to our faith partners around the state who are also local resources to you: Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy/EBASE in Oakland; Interfaith Center for Worker Justice of San Diego County; CLUE-Los Angeles and Ventura CLUE.
Together, we seek to weave a network of safety for immigrants in California, so no one is returned to harm and danger; and no family is torn apart 


October 1st – San Francisco: 9:30 -11:30 AM at Grace Fellowship Church, 3265 16th St. This meeting will discern and discussSanctuary and other concrete responses from the faith communityto migrant children, families and those persons facing deportation. Contact: Rev. Deb Lee (, 510-893-7106 x 319.

October 8th – Los Angeles: 10 AM-12 noon at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral, 514 W. Adams Blvd. This is a planning session on Unaccompanied Migrant Children and their Families,convened by CLUE-LA and wide array of faith networks. Contact: Guillermo Torres (, 323-228-2753.

October 14th – Berkeley: 6 -8:30 PM at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2727 College Ave.  FORUM:  Renewing Sanctuary: Sanctuary Today (See flyer below). Contact: Rev. Deb Lee (, 510-893-7106 x 319Download the Forum Flyer

San Diego County, contact Rabbi Laurie Coskey at the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice: RabbiLaurie@icwj.org619-573-4216.  Ventura County’s New Sanctuary Movement, contact: Juana Tapia at CLUE Ventura County: director@cluevc.org805-607-2114.  If you would like to learn more about sponsoring a gathering or forum near you, please contact one of organizations listed above.

Resources on Sanctuary:

Sample Sanctuary Covenant for congregations

Sanctuary Toolkit:  Download

Website for Sanctuary 2014:

Sign the National Sanctuary Declaration 

Please join us in prayer and discernment about becoming part of a network of Sanctuary.  We look forward to seeing or hearing from you soon!

Rev. Deborah Lee



San Francisco Interfaith Council and Religious Leaders Speak Out Against ISIS Religious Persecution 

September 17, 2014

                Over the past number of months our nation has been watching with horror the tragic events that are unfolding in the Middle East. Our television screens have brought into our homes, and hopefully our consciousness, the complex challenges and humanitarian catastrophes that have engulfed the ancient civilizations of the Middle East. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have been left displaced and are without the basic necessities of life. Many have even lost their lives through the unnecessary conflict. These are atrocities that many had hoped would not be possible in our day!

                Of particular concern to us at this time is the plight of the ancient Christian communities, who have coexisted with their Muslim brothers and sisters for centuries. This is a tragedy beyond proportion. “Convert to Islam, pay a Jizyah tax, abandon your homes, or die by the sword” is the choice given to Christians. This has led to complete eradication of Christians in parts of Iraq and unprecedented pressure on Christian communities in Syria.

                Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, President of the Assembly of the Catholic Bishops in Iraq, recently said:

“It has become obvious that Iraqi Christians along with other minorities have received a fatal blow at the core of their lives and their existence whether through displacing more than a hundred thousand Christians by force, or looting their possessions, money, and documents, or occupying their houses for just being Christian! I visited the camps of the displaced persons in the provinces of Erbil and Dohok and what I saw and what I heard is beyond any imagination!”

                As the suffering of our fellow Christians in Iraq worsens, it is hoped that the Interfaith Council could issue a letter to civic authorities, requesting more security and protection for the persecuted Christian community in the Middle East. As well as raising awareness to the tragic situation unfolding before us, it is also an opportunity to invite our various faith communities to increase their prayers to Almighty God for an end to all conflict and persecution. The long history and deeply rooted heritage shared by the various communities in the past, is a reminder that peaceful coexistence can be achieved.

                It is important to remember that along with Christians, many other religious groups are enduring religious persecution in the region. Non-conforming Muslims, for instance, are being crucified and their homes are attacked and marked with an “R” for Rejecter. The ancient Yazidi People have been driven by Islamic militants (ISIS) into the Sinjar Mountains west of Mosul. An estimated 40,000 men, women and children have been struggling for their lives in what has become a terrible humanitarian disaster near the Syrian border.

                It needs to be remembered that the actions of ISIS and other terror groups do not reflect a true image of Islam. The terrible actions these groups have perpetrated in the name of Islam and the Quran bring dishonor to the great number of Muslims who abhor what is being done in the name of their religion. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch has recently reaffirmed its commitment to peace and coexistence between Christians and their Muslim neighbors, stating:

“Because we are in the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East constantly affirm that Christians and Muslims are members of a single Middle Eastern body that stands on citizenship and common life, we reject anything that would first of all hurt Islam’s reputation for tolerance, brotherhood and peaceful life, which we have experienced, and secondly disrupts the right of citizens to have a civic presence free from sectarian or racial pressures.”

                In light of all this, it is imperative that we break the silence that has fallen upon indifferent ears and speak against the persecution of all people of faith in the Middle East.

Rev. Maggi Henderson, Chair, San Francisco Interfaith Council

Rita R. Semel, Past Chair, San Francisco Interfaith Council

Michael G. Pappas, Executive Director, San Francisco Interfaith Council

Right Reverend Marc Handley Andrus, Episcopal Bishop of California

Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown, Third Baptist Church

The Rev. Dr. John A. Buehrens, Senior Minister, First Unitarian Universalist Church of SF

Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco

Sister Chandru Desai, Director, Brahma Kumaris Meditation Center

Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco, Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco

Rabbi Marvin Goodman, Executive Director,Board of Rabbis of Northern California

Iftekhar Hai, President, United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance, Islamic Society of SF

Reverend Mark W. Holmerud, Bishop, Sierra Pacific Synod, ELCA

Rabbi Douglas Kahn, Executive Director, Jewish Community Relations Council

Rev. Ronald Kobata, Resident Minister, Buddhist Church of San Francisco 

For additional information, please contact Michael G. Pappas at (415) 425-9631.




The California Council of Churches (CCC) is one of the 48 grantee agencies contracted with CoveredCA to educate Californians on health insurance policies available through the Affordable Care Act. Together with you, our member congregations, we were successful in enrolling 1.7 million Californians in Covered CA insurance programs and 1.9 million in Medi-Cal. Now, 4 million Californians have affordable, quality health care, the majority of whom would not have had it otherwise. You did good work. Millions of people nationally thank you. The process isn’t over though. The next open enrollment period begins November 15th for insurance commencing January 1, 2015. Medi-Cal enrollment is continuous throughout the year and life events, such as marriage, birth, death etc. . .(pdf bulletin inserts attached) open a 60 day insurance enrollment window for those affected.

As the enrollment process has progressed, the California Council of Churches has been approved to help with enrollment. So, there will be some common needs in our communities. We need local people who are knowledgeable and equipped with the necessary educational tools and have meeting spaces at congregations available, with convenient parking, to accommodate education and/or enrollment open houses. As a newly Certified Enrollment Counselor for the Bay Area Congregations with Covered CA at the California Council of Churches, I will need your help as we are now looking for congregations in this area to host community enrollment and education events October through February 2015. Your commitment involves providing space and parking for certified enrollment volunteers and myself to present information and to enroll Californians in Covered CA insurance programs. You, at your discretion, can also invite local providers to do health screenings etc and have a community health fair.

I hope to speak to any interested faith communities and schedule Covered CA Education and Enrollment events this fall and winter. I look forward to working with you.

In our shared work and faith,

Marijke Fakasiieiki
California Council of Churches
Certified Educator for Covered CA
(510) 529-5011



Multi-Faith A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition
Advocates & Communities Taking Initiative 4 Our Neighbors

This email is from the Multi-Faith A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition; we are a Multi-faith coalition of Contra Costa County residents working together to address the root causes of poverty through advocacy and public policy change.

The Legislature has passed SB 1002 with bipartisan support and now it is awaiting the Governor signature, but he may not sign it without hearing from you.

SB 1002 helps more families eligible for food assistance known as CalFresh get it by cutting red tape.  Several respected non-profit organizations have supported this legislation since it was introduced and we can help with the final push to get it signed into law by calling the Governor today.  More information is below.

Take Action Today!
SB 1002 needs your support! Governor Brown has until Tuesday, September 30 to sign or veto legislation. Because we do not know when exactly the Governor will be considering SB 1002, the sooner you voice your support the better!

Call the Governor!
Call the Governor’s office today at 916.445.2841

For Immediate Release: Link to Online Version

August 21, 2014
Jessica Bartholow, Western Center on Law and Poverty, 916-282-5119
Claire Conlon, Press Secretary/Legislative Aide, Office of Senator Kevin de Leόn
Bill to Cut Red Tape and Prevent Hunger Sweeps Bi-partisan Assembly Vote
With strong bi-partisan and broad community support, SB 1002 will make government work better to help low-income Californians feel better. 

Sacramento, CA – Yesterday, the California State Assembly passed SB 1002

, authored by Senator De León, with strong bi-partisan support.

One in six Americans experience hunger

and the numbers are even higher here in California, home to two of the top 5 hungriest cities in the country. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), known as CalFresh here in California, is our country’s best defense against hunger. However, it is estimated that only about 57% of Californians who are eligible for this federal food assistance currently receive it.

“CalFresh is one of our state’s best tools for preventing hunger and we must do everything in our power to make sure people don’t lose food assistance because of complicated paperwork,” said the bill author and incoming Senate Pro-Tempore Kevin De León.
“SB 1002 will help ensure that families in need get the assistance they deserve. Reducing unnecessary paperwork to streamline the process for getting help is good public policy, and is why this bill has strong bipartisan support. I am grateful to Senator De León for guiding this common sense bill onto the Governor’s desk, and am honored to have been able to present it in the Assembly on his behalf,” said Assembly Member Brian Nestande who helped usher the bill off of the floor of the Assembly with an impressive 69-0 vote.

“SB 1002 achieves program efficiency by requiring the administering departments to apply for federal flexibility so that paperwork submitted for one program can facilitate an application or renewal in the other.” explains Elizabeth Landsberg, Legislative Director at co-sponsoring Western Center on Law and Poverty. The bill’s second co-sponsor is the California Food Policy Advocates

SB 1002 has to be concurred in the Senate before heading to the Governor, who will have until September 30th to sign it and other bills passed by the legislature in August.

Jessica Bartholow
Legislative Advocate
1107 Ninth Street, Suite 700
Sacramento, CA 95814-3607



TORTURE IS A MORAL ISSUE:  NRCAT statement on 9/11

Dear Friends,

President Bush, appearing at the Islamic Center of Washington, DC just six days after the 9/11 attack in 2001, reminded the nation that U.S. Muslims are our neighbors and friends. The President also reminded the nation that this act of violence “violates the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith” and admonished those who would blame Islam for 9/11 that “the face of terror is not the true faith of Islam.”

President Obama, in his address to the nation last night, 13 years later, made it clear to the American people that “ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents.” Later, the president committed to continue providing humanitarian assistance to Christian and other religious minorities, including smaller Sunni and Shia groups in the region who are threatened by the violence of ISIL.

On the day of President Obama’s speech, the Muslim community and interfaith friends gathered across the U.S. to condemn ISIS and repudiate its message of radical Islam as a distorted version of the faith. Faith leaders spoke out in Washington, DC at the National Press Club. They spoke out at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. The September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows are standing together to embrace their Muslim brothers and sisters by launching an ad campaign to counter Islamophobia.

Both Bush and Obama recognize that wars breed crimes of hate, and perpetrators of hate crimes often use religious identity as a defining characteristic for how they choose their victims, whether in the field of war itself, or in neighborhoods thousands of miles from the conflict zone. Despite our leaders’ calls for respect and understanding, all too often U.S. Muslims have been subject to discrimination, hate speech and violence. For NRCAT, standing side by side with U.S. Muslims has been, and will continue to be, a key component of our campaign against U.S. torture.

Take Action:  Pledge to stand with American Muslims today. Pledge that as a person of faith, you will:

  • Become familiar with Muslim, Sikh and other faith groups in your local community.
  • Host an event or include a reflection in your next service of worship that models the leadership of these two presidents in recognizing the vulnerability of religious minorities and human rights in times of war.
  • Monitor any local slurs or public commentary against Muslims that in any way links Islam to ISIL and terrorism, and respond. If you see such examples in the local news, submit a letter to the editor.
  • Join NRCAT and our Muslim and interfaith partners in continuing to call the U.S. to accountability for torture post-9/11 and join us to ensure that U.S.-sponsored torture does not creep back into the policy, practice or political rhetoric as the effort to combat terror unfolds.


Join NRCAT and many others this 9/11 to stand with U.S. Muslims, for peace and against torture.


Rev. Ron Stief
Executive Director
National Religious Coalition Against Torture



◊◊◊  DACA sponsorship program sponsored by ICIR-CLUE-CA (the interfaith coalition for Immigrant Rights)

The idea is The MICA DACA Sponsorship will pay up to $200 to one of our approved legal service providers to review and submit a DACA application behalf of our MICA-sponsored applicants. With this program we hope to enable DACA-eligible youth living in the Bay Area to overcome financial constraints that might otherwise prevent them from applying. In addition to providing financial support, the congregations will offer get-acquainted activities for the recipients to meet each other and members of the sponsoring congregation to explore other resources the congregation can provide. For example, they may be able to assist recipients with job hunting skills and networking opportunities or help the sponsored applicant overcome other hurdles on their path to achieving DACA status and finding a job.  Congregations are invited to share funds to help those eligible for DACA application.  If you can attend one monthly wed evening meeting a month please contact Rev. Deb Lee at


◊◊◊  Mt. View House Shelter has opportunities for Congregations to share meals with their homeless Clients.   (Updated dates available to serve.)

The shelter is one of only two family shelters in Contra Costa that is for menwomen and children. Please contact Martie Steinmetz, Site Coordinator of the Mt. View House Shelter (1391 Shell Avenue, Martinez, CA 94553) at (925) 228-6920 or to help.

The Shelter has sign-ups through the winter, when the following weeks are available throughout the new year – and beyond.  Collect a group of friends from your congregation or friendship group and build an experience of a lifetime!

  • 3/9- 3/13
  • 3/29- 4/4
  • 5/11- 5/15
  • 5/18- 5/22
  • 5/25- 5/29
  • 6/8- 6/12
  • 6/15- 6/19
  • 6/22- 6/26
  • 6/29- 7/3
  • 7/6- 7/10
  • 7/27- 7/31
  • 8/3- 8/7
  • 8/10- 8/14

Please note that once these above dates have been taken, then Martie will begin scheduling for future calendar dates.  How will your faith community be a part of the solution for those at Mt. View this year?



+++  The Health and Faith in Action Committee  The next meeting will be on Thursday, February 5th from 12 – 1:30 pm at Congregation Bnai Tikvah, 25 Hillcroft Way, Walnut Creek, 94597, 12-1:30pm.  We will have updates on Laura’s Law and chaplaincy at CCRMC, but please send me any potential agenda items, and I will get them out with my Feb. 3 reminder.  Bring a bag lunch, drinks provided. Please rsvp to this address (


◊◊◊   Diablo Choral Artists performs significant works of sacred and secular choral music, and has openings for all voice parts (esp. tenors and basses). Rehearsals are Mondays 7-9:30 pm, beginning September 8, 2014, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1924 Trinity Avenue, Walnut Creek.  Mark Tuning, Music Director. See  for details and more information, or call 925-680-7089,


If you are having trouble reading this, click here

ICP logo<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

The Interfaith Center at the Presidio

Two Bay Area interfaith organizations, SiVIC (Silicon Valley Interreligious Council) and ING (Islamic Networks Group) have issued statements on the current situation in Gaza and its impact on relationships between religious communities here and around the world. The Council for a Parliament of the World”s Religions has likewise called for peace and Justice.

It is in the difficult times that the basic principles of interfaith work are tested, and the relationships built over time enable lines of communication to be opened. The Interfaith Center at the Presidio supports the work these groups and others in our community and around the world do to build relationships of respect and cooperation.

On the Gaza Conflict

July 22, 2014

As events continue to unfold in Israel and Gaza, we in the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council (SiVIC) are grieved by the human cost and suffering occasioned by the current conflict. While members of our community may lean more toward support for Israel or for Gaza, together we know how important it is for us to maintain connections and dialogue with one another, especially when some would polarize the debate and end discussion.

Regardless of our individual stances, we share a recognition of our common humanity and a conviction that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must cease, that there is no violent solution to that conflict, that all human life is valued, and that all parties must cooperate to achieve a just and lasting peace on behalf of God’s children who reside in the land that many of us call holy.

We affirm these guiding principles, articulated during previous armed conflicts in Gaza:

  • We acknowledge the long, complex, and painful history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;
  • We acknowledge the wide range of deeply-held beliefs, and intensely-felt narratives on all sides;
  • We mourn the loss of innocent lives in Gaza and in Israel;
  • We deplore any invocation of religion as a justification for violence, for the deprivation of people’s dignity, or for the denial of human rights;
  • We decry any use of inflammatory rhetoric that demonizes others, fostering hatred and disrespect; and
  • We believe that just solutions to the conflict are better served by political and diplomatic means.

Guided by these principles, we recognize the urgent need for the prompt implementation of a just and lasting peace. Toward that end,

  • We call upon the United States and the international community to intercede with the goal of helping to establish a permanent cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas;
  • We call for an immediate and significant increase in humanitarian aid to address the needs of the people of Gaza, and support for trauma counseling for all those affected; we call upon all parties involved to join in taking responsibility to address those human needs;
  • We call upon all parties involved in the conflict to work sincerely and vigorously toward a just and lasting peace that addresses and promotes the national aspirations of both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

Full statement is here.

Statement on Recent Anti-Jewish
and Anti-Muslim Attacks

ING, in line with the principles of justice advocated by all our religious traditions, rejects notions of collective guilt and collective punishment. In situations of violence, whether in Gaza, in Paris, in Brooklyn, or elsewhere, it is all too easy to blame whole peoples and whole communities for the actions of a few. We call in particular on all those critical of Israeli actions to refrain from blaming those actions on the Jewish people as a whole, just as we call on those critical of organizations such as Hamas and those who join us in condemning the attacks in Sarcelles to refrain from blaming Muslims or Arabs as a whole. Every incident of violence should make us turn with greater determination to making peace in our hearts and in our actions with the diversity of peoples, cultures, and faiths in our world.

Full statement is here.

Parliament of the World’s Religions Stands with Peace and Justice in the Holy Lands

July 24, 2014

The Parliament of the World’s Religions grieves whenever violence and conflict flares, as is now occurring in Palestine and Israel. Grief, however, must not paralyze faith communities and the interfaith movement into silence and inaction. Instead, we are called to serve as moderating agents in the cause of sustainable justice, unconditional compassion, and enduring peace by raising our voices against those who seek the annihilation of their enemies.

The Parliament, therefore, asks religious and spiritual communities across the globe, and the interfaith movement specifically, to be vocal and active in:

  • calling both sides to end the war in an ethical manner, including the ending of the seven-year blockade of Gaza, with borders monitored by the United Nations to ensure safety for Israelis as well as Palestinians
  • asking world leaders to take concrete steps, with urgency, to ensure the freedom, self-determination, security, and equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis
  • calling the United Nations to ensure that both sides abide by international laws and human right accords in safeguarding civilians, with special attention given to children
  • requesting both sides to recognize the humanity of the other and to honor their sacred spaces

The Parliament of the World’s Religions encourages all faith communities and especially the interfaith movement to actively expose and challenge anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in their neighborhoods, cities, and in the public discourse. Let us be moderating voices and agents that will revitalize the dialogue and cooperation between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. This mission should be a part of our sermons, prayers, and civic action.

Full statement is here.

Please share this information with your networks.


Planted Summer 2014 Front+++  Ecumenical Peace Institute Summer newsletter Planted by the Waters.  

Articles and report on the Good Friday witness at the Lawrence Livermore Labs.  Download the newsletter here:   Planted Summer 2014







◊◊◊  Each One Teach One:  Opportunity: Diablo Valley Literacy Council

  • English Tutors Needed
  • You can change a life!
  • English need not be your first language.
  • No teaching experience is required.
  • We will teach you how to be a tutor!

VOLUNTEER to help adults in your neighborhood to read, write and speak ENGLISH well enough to function in our society.  Working one-one-one, you can help people to get a better job, apply for citizenship, read to their children…the possibilities are endless!

The next workshop will be held on Saturday, September 6, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and Saturday, September 13, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church located at 4000 Clayton Road in Concord. You must attend both sessions. There is a nominal fee to cover the training & material costs. Adult volunteers typically give one or two hours per week. For more information visit our website at To register call our hotline and leave a message at (925) 685-3881 or mail us at  You can be the person who makes a difference and changes a life!



Monument Crisis Center
1990 Market Street, Concord


  • Mondays 9-12
  • Thursdays 9-12

BE PREPARED FOR THE TEST!  Beginning August 18, 2014

Math Preparation for GED Testing.  The Monument Crisis Center will be offering test preparation for Math GED test taking. Come and get one-on-one tutoring and help on what you need to know for the Math GED test.  Call 925.825.7751 for more information or just stop by during these days!



◊◊◊  Trinity Center Shares two Youtube Videos








Flashmob in Broadway Plaza








Trinity Center, Where You Are Not Alone.



The Community Food Pantry and Clothing Room have been operating at the Hillcrest Congregational Church campus for the past 60 years. As a designated outlet for the Food Bank of Contra Costa & Solano counties, the Food Pantry gave an emergency 3-day food supply to 3,000 children and adults in 2013.The Clothing Room also served 3,000 people in our community last year, providing new and gently-used clothing to men, women, teens and young children.

In order to continue to serve our community, we are in need of additional volunteers to work in the Community Food Pantry and Clothing Room.  Both rooms are open from 9:00 to 11:45 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

If you would like to explore how you can help, please contact Bill Cunningham at the Hillcrest Church office, 925-689-8260. See how you can become part of this important service to our community!



WPE Logo

Download the WPE Logo here.

You can play a direct, personal role in helping to end hunger in the Contra Costa County. Think about helping with The White Pony Express!

White Pony Express is a 100% volunteer-based non-profit that redistributes approximately 18,000 lbs. of fresh, delicious, healthy food each week to those in need. We need more volunteers to get the food delivered to these neighbors!

White Pony Express (WPE) partners with food retailers with a surplus and delivers free of charge to those in need. Some of the more well-known donors are Nob Hill Foods, Whole Foods, Costco, Sprouts Farmers’ Market and The Cheesecake Factory—but there are a hundred additional donors. White Pony Express distributes throughout the County to over 30 recipient partners including Bay Area Rescue Mission, Shelter, Inc., Loaves & Fishes, Love A Child, Don Brown Shelter, and Shepard’s Gate.

WPE operates fifteen hours a day, seven days a week. Volunteers are needed for 2-4 hour shifts. Our primary need is for daytime volunteers during the hours from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Help us serve those in need – it is rewarding work! Contact: Vince Karakashian at or 925-876-0402.

Various churches/synagogues/libraries needed to display artwork!

We just finished our Art & Writing Challenge for CC youth.  The topic this year was celebrating diversity and our prompt included quotes from Mandela and King.   Now we need a space to display our artwork.

For more information, go to


 Volunteer Drivers Needed!Driver Ad -Quarter Page - Color - 5-27-2014

Meals on Wheels and Senior Outreach Services has an urgent need for volunteer drivers in Pittsburg, Antioch, and Bay Point.  We have 16 routes each day in East Contra Costa County, and 7 routes are currently open.  This equates to 35 volunteers that are needed now! 

We are also seeking substitute drivers who cannot commit to a weekly route, and encouraging community service organizations and/ or church groups to take on a weekly route.   Becoming a substitute driver or coordinating a group of drivers works especially well for those individuals who cannot commit to a weekly route.




Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA condemns attack on American Jewish centers in Kansas City

American Muslims stand in solidarity with Jewish Americans to condemn religious violence and extremism in all its forms

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA condemns in the strongest terms the April 13th attacks on two Jewish centers in Kansas City, which left three dead. Ahmadi Muslims offer their sincere prayers and condolences to the families and friends of the victims of the Overland Park Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom.

“As Muslims, we have regard for all humanity: Hindus, Christians, Jews, or Muslim – they are all our fellow brothers and sisters in humanity,” said Wasim Malik, National Vice President of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA. “The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community mourns the loss of our fellow human beings. Our prayers and sympathies are with our Jewish brethren.”

As Muslims who believe in the Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, Ahmadi Muslims loudly condemn all such acts of violence and proclaim that these heinous acts have no place in a civil society or any religion. Thus, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community implores all Americans to continue efforts of tolerance and bridge building to further help prevent future acts of violence. Statement posted at this site.




The San Francisco Interfaith Council condemns the apparent anti-Semitic assault on a Jewish Community Center and Jewish Retirement Community in Overland Park, Kansas. The attack, perpetrated by a neo-Nazi reported to be motivated by hate, resulted in the death of three individuals, including a Methodist grandfather, his teenage grandson, and a Catholic woman.

During these most holy days for Jews and Christians, which raise up hope for liberation from the forces of oppression, hatred, and narrowness, it is particularly distressing to see hate manifested in violence.

How little we have learned! It is time once again to condemn bigotry, and to recognize that we all share a common destiny and an obligation to make the world a better place.



A statement from Rev. Dr. Frederick W. Weidmann, Senior Minister at Hillcrest Congregational Church UCC, Pleasant Hill

Another day, another wave of gun violence in the United States. It’s sick. It’s us. In this case (the massacre in Kansas City yesterday) it was a white supremacist gunning people at a Jewish community center and a Jewish retirement village.

Whenever killing is carried out by Muslim terrorists, the commentaries inevitably abound: why don’t Muslim leaders condemn these things if they really think it’s wrong? Of course, many do.

What about when such killings as what happened yesterday occur? The killer is a white supremacist who is a former “grand dragon” of the KKK. Do you know what you learn when you go on the KKK website? You learn that what the KKK is all about are “the principles of Western Christian civilization.” You learn that the KKK is about “love NOT hate.” Hmm.

White supremacists steep themselves in Christian language, Christian symbolism, and so-called Christian values. Where are all the Christian voices condemning such abuse of our language and symbols and values? Especially in these holy days, holy to Jews and Christians, let us recognize how devoid of the message of Christ any and all fear-mongering and any and all hate speech is; let alone the love of guns and the love of violence. What happened yesterday is sick and depraved. What’s more, all the rhetoric and “values” that stand behind it are likewise sick and depraved. Unfortunately, all of it is part of the DNA of these United States.

What would Jesus Do? I know what he wouldn’t do—stand for such sickness and depravity being claimed in his name.




Learn how to help sign up those who qualify for nutrition support!  CalFresh is the easy new way  for lower income Contra Costa County residents to get access to food through a recharged debit card.  

Joanne Peterson and Linda Wild can lead trainings for those who are interested in becoming a CalFresh volunteer. CalFresh, along with the Food Bank, is a main provider of nutritional assistance to those in need. At this time, a full 42% of those who DO qualify to receive CalFresh benefits, do not.  The CalFresh Challenge is a project which aims to bring enrollment in the program where it should be, to 100%! Our goal is to recruit and train volunteers to be qualified to help identify and assist those who could get benefits but have not. At this time, we are doing this in conjunction with the Food Bank, but we hope to expand to other than their sites.

EVEN if you are not interested in doing actual volunteer work, we encourage you, if you are able, to come to this orientation,as it will serve as a foundational piece for any research that might be done on the subject of Food Security.  For more info, please contact Linda Wild (925-575-0259) or Joanne Peterson (510-708-5515).

Please use the link below to let us know when we can look forward to seeing you.



+++  Earn it!  Save it!  Keep it!

Tax season is coming to a close soon—but there is still time to visit one of the United Way’s Earn It! Keep It! Save It! free tax sites throughout the Bay Area. Qualifying households with incomes of $52,000 or less can have their taxes prepared for them for free. Please help us get the word out to your nonprofit clients and partners, and send people to a free tax site.

Calling the free, 24/7 phone line, 211 is a great way for people to get information about the locations and times of the site near them.  Or, you can look sites up from our webpage, go to:



+++  Mt Diablo UU Church and The Urban Farmers Plant Giving Orchard

The Contra Costa Times featured an article about the giving orchard planted by The Urban Farmers at the Mt Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church, funded by church members. Fruit from the orchard will be contributed to those in need. If you have space for this type of orchard, contact Art Ungar, Orchard Development Project Manager, The Urban Farmers, 925-451-3025 or


Volunteer Opportunities:

◊◊◊  The Interfaith Council’s Publicity Committee is looking for someone with online computer skills to be a volunteer Web Editor.

Right now our busy staff is trying to do all of the updating on our website and preparations for our monthly eBlasts and our quarterly newsletters.  If you know how to edit WordPress websites online and have a few hours a week, we could really use your help on our team!  If you are interested in serving the Council in this way, please contact Rev. Will McGarvey or Suzie Kohl.


◊◊◊  The White Pony Express is seeking volunteers who can help with the redistribution of food from many generous donor organizations possessing a surplus of food to recipients in need.

This program, initiated by Dr. Carol Weyland Conner, the spiritual director of Sufism Reoriented, connects willing donors who wish to offer fresh and wholesome prepared food to those in need via a system of volunteer dispatchers and runners. Volunteers are needed in the happy and satisfying activity of distributing this generously offered bounty to our many neighbors in need. If you would like to learn more about how you might participate in this effort, please call 925-322-0604925-322-0604 or e-mail



COVEREDCALIFORNIA◊◊◊  Fight Poverty – Sign up for Health Care and More

by Renee Zeimer

According to a recent study of the Brookings Institution, the Affordable Care Act will have a significant effect on the economic wellbeing of the poorest in America. The Washington public policy center determined that the new law will result in an average increase of about 6 percent in the incomes of those making below approximately $20,600 a year, representing the poorest 20 percent of the United States. Read more…

In California, the new health exchange is called Covered California. Individuals and families can sign up for MediCal, qualified health plans such as Blue Shield, Anthem Blue Cross and Kaiser, and may qualify for assistance. Individuals and families can also sign up for additional support including CalFresh and CalWorks through the website.

IMPORTANT: The initial open enrollment period ends on March 31, 2014.

For free enrollment assistance in Contra Costa County, check the listing of events below or call the Contra Costa ACA Team for event information. Contact Sue Hamill at (925) 330-3723 in Central and East County and Kook Huber in West County at (510) 758-2638. Enrollment assistance is also available by appointment at the Rainbow Community Center, 3024 Willow Pass Rd, Ste 200 Concord, CA 94519. Call Bill Maya at (925) 692-0090.  Open enrollment through March 31, 2014!  Explore or call 1-800-300-1506.  Presented by the Contra Costa ACA Team.  For more information about events call: (925) 330-3723

To enroll you will need to proof of:

  • California residence
  • U.S. citizenship or immigration status
  • Current income for each family member – (income tax return, W-2, pay stub)

Open enrollment through March 31, 2014!    •    Explore or call 1-800-300-1506.  Presented by the Contra Costa ACA Team – West County   For more information about events call: (510) 758-2638


Forums on the New Dangers of Extreme Energy, from Canada to Contra Costa

Tar sands strip mining in Alberta; oil train explosion in Lac-Mégantic; drought in California; train derailment over Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.

Tar sands strip mining in Alberta; oil train explosion in Lac-Mégantic; drought in California; train derailment over the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.

The Sunflower Alliance is pleased to host a series of forums in northern Contra Costa County on the dangers of the fossil fuel industry’s turn to extreme energy in recent years. CoCoCo and Benicia are home to fiverefineries, specializing in the dirtiest and heaviest crude oils, and the industry has proposed five major projects to expand refineries and bring in crude oil by train.

In Pittsburg, Martinez, and Richmond, we will have panel discussions with experts and community activists, featuring a special guest from Lac-Mégantic, Canada, which suffered a devastating oil train explosion last July that killed 47 people. They’ll educate us on Big Oil’s plans and the local, regional, and global effects.

Learn about the consequences for your community, and learn how communities are organizing to fight back and protect our health and safety!


Each forum will have a slightly different set of panelists, tailored for the concerns of that area. However, every panel will feature:

Look at the descriptions in the Facebook events for each location (see above) to find out more about each panel’s members.

We look forward to seeing you at one of the panel discussions!

Proposed Projects

Proposed oil infrastructure projects (source: CBE).



These forums are sponsored by the Sunflower Alliance and 350 Bay Area, in partnership with the Sierra Club, the Pittsburg Defense Council, the Pittsburg Ethics CouncilCommunities for a Better Environment,ForestEthics, the Good Neighbor Steering Committee, and the Crockett-Rodeo-Hercules Working Group.

Many thanks to the First Baptist Church of Pittsburg, the Richmond Progressive Alliance, and VFW Post 1351for allowing us to use their spaces!



The Man Who Sent the Magi by Douglas Krotz

The Man Who Sent the Magi by Douglas Krotz

Interfaith Council member Doug Krotz from the Baha’i Community in Orinda has written a book entitled:  “The Man Who Sent the Magi: A Religious Rosetta Stone.”

In this holiday season, Doug is offering his book for a suggested donation of $25 or more to the Interfaith Council. 

Doug describes this as “a book to assist in the expansion of your religious and spiritual thinking… and then understanding.”   How much of your religious training came between the ages of eight to fifteen?  How certain of those beliefs are you today?  The Man Who Sent the Magi refers to the ancient Persian prophet Zoroaster, referred to in the book by His given name Zarathustra, whose prophesies were responsible for the journey of the Magi, three high priests and possibly kings who journeyed over a thousand miles to gift, worship and honor the birth of infant, Jesus.

Check out the link below for more information about the book, or to invite Douglas to come to your community to speak about it.  To donate to the Interfaith Council follow this link, or mail or deliver your check (please arrange a time to pick it up by emailing Jessica Natal at  Please add around $5 if you can’t pick up the book at the office and would like it mailed.  

We appreciated Doug’s generosity and you will love this exploration of the history of Persia and Zarathutra.

This is a thought-provoking work worthy of your time. -Christopher Nauer, Pastoral Associate at St. Perpetua Catholic Church, Lafayette, CA

This is one man s journey beyond the crossroads where Matthew s birth narrative and the three Persian visitors meet. It is a journey that leads the reader into a lost story that seems strangely familiar. —-Rev. Dan Senter, ELCA Pastor of Our Saviour s Lutheran Church, Lafayette, CA

About the Author
Douglas R. Krotz is a lifelong student of comparative religion, but not a clergyman from the Judaic, Christian or Zarathustrian religions. He graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Geology, and a minor in Physics. He spent much of his life as the president of a delivery service (a story in itself). One of his hobbies for over fifty years has been the study, comparison and analysis of various religions and their societal influences.



◊◊◊  The Multi-Faith Immigration Coalition for Action (MICA) has established a program to help undocumented young people applying for legal status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program provides financial assistance to help with costs of applying for DACA status or obtaining legal reviews of applications. More information about the program is available at the following web link:

The Social Justice Alliance is a part of the MICA team and invites ICCCC Congregations to consider supporting undocumented young people trying to navigate the immigration system toward citizenship.

The program is now up and running. We have received and approved two applications for assistance and we have two more young people in the process of applying. Several congregations have also collected money to help with the program.

  • Can your congregation cover the estimated $400 or donate toward a share of one person’s path?
  • Would your mission or justice committee – or any congregants – be interested in participating in “get acquainted” meetings with applicants?  These meetings are intended to begin building a personal relationship between the applicants and the congregations and to find out if the applicants need any other type of help and support besides the financial help.  We will be holding a short training session about DACA and the program for volunteers tentatively scheduled for the first week in February.
  • A potluck get together with congregations and applicants is being planned for early March.

More information is available at the Social Justice Alliance. SOJA meets on January 8th at 7:00 pm in the Wesley Room at Walnut Creek United Methodist Church. For more information, contact Michael Fischer at or 925-212-9653. MICA is meeting next month on January 9 at 7:00 pm at Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church on Eckley Lane in Walnut Creek as well. All are welcome.



Natalie Russell (center) receiving the 2013 Making a Difference Award from Rev. Margaretmary Staller and

Natalie Russell (center) receiving the 2013 Making a Difference Award from Rev. Margaretmary Staller and

◊◊◊  17th Annual Meeting  A Success 

We appreciate all those who came out for our Annual Meeting at LOPC. The food was yummy, we heard reports from our new ED Rev. Will McGarvey, Rev. Dr. Charles Tinsley from the Juvenile Detention Facilities, SOJA, Winter Nights, and our other many projects.

We also honored 11 “Making a Difference” including Natalie Russell who received our County Wide award for her 50 plus years of service.  She was one of the original organizers for our Social Justice Alliance a tireless voice and presence for peace and justice.  Thanks Natalie!

It was also noted that our congregational and individual donations are significantly low compared to last year.  Please consider making a generous donation to the ongoing work of the Interfaith Council.  An online donation link is on the lower part of the right had column.




◊◊◊   Shelter Inc. Continues to reach out to Veterans

SSVF Poster

Download the poster here: SSVF Poster FINAL

Shelter Inc’s results for housing homeless veterans for all of Contra Costa County these past two years. We have veteran services offices in Bay Point, Richmond and Concord. Shelter Inc. of Contra Costa County is pleased to announce the following successes in housing homeless Veterans in all of Contra Costa County. The Team is being recognized by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors for the following successes. Please spread the word. For serving anyone in need—just call 925-957-7579

Numbers served – SSVF Progress Report – 11.11.13

  • Served 367 households between October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2013.
  • Over 562 family members served thus far
  • Over 87% housed at the time of exit—in past year

We are pleased to welcome our new partners in the SSVF Program; Berkeley Food and Housing, Swords to Plowshares from San Francisco, and East Bay Community Recovery Project.



◊◊◊   CCIH Volunteers Go Above and Beyond

So much happens behind the scenes at CCIH. Our homework club volunteers go through a thorough screening process, have to get TB tested and fingerprinted, and then attend two trainings per year. Even after all this, they not only come week after week to help the children, but they go above and beyond.

Nancy, a retired Marketing executive, was one of our first volunteers at the Lakeside Apartments Homework Club that started last Winter. Seeing the need for increased literacy and limited access to books among the children, Nancy and her son Davis, a senior from Miramonte High School, began a small book drive in their neighborhood. The response was tremendous and they ended up with over 1,200 books!

They organized two large book fairs, complete with food and raffles, at Lakeside Apartments and Los Medanos Village. They restocked each homework club with new, exciting books and each child went home with a bag full of books that they could call their own. Thank you Nancy!

Click Here to Become a Homework Club Volunteer



◊◊◊  The history of Islam in America that would shock Islamophobes

Recently, just as turmoil in the Middle East erupted, New York straphangers were treated to hateful anti-Muslim billboards, courtesy of Pamela Geller, leader of “Stop Islamization of America.” The ads, which declared that radical Muslims are “savages” waging war on the civilized world, created a furor and resulted in widespread defacements (for a roundup, check out the Awl), the arrest of a journalist , and possible changes to the rules governing subway and bus advertisements that might incite violence.

continued on the site…



◊◊◊  Blood Drives Needed 

The American Red Cross Northern California Blood Services Region supplies blood to nearly 30 hospitals in the greater-Bay Area. In order to meet the needs of patients in those hospitals, the Red Cross must collect approximately 300 pints of blood each day. This life-saving mission is only possible with the generous support of both volunteer blood donors and blood drive sponsors.

The Red Cross relies on local businesses, faith-based groups, civic organizations and schools to sponsor blood drives throughout the Bay Area. In recent years, faith-based groups in particular have played a pivotal role in maintaining the community blood supply during the summer months – a difficult time of year to collect blood.

The Interfaith Community Blood Drive has been held each July for the past three years and has grown to become the single largest blood drive in the history of the Northern California Blood Services Region. The month-long event is comprised of 40 to 80 individual blood drives, which are sponsored by various faith-based groups. The Interfaith drive has collected 7,293 pints of blood since its inception.

Please consider sponsoring a Red Cross blood drive in the near future and/or participating in the upcoming Interfaith Community Blood Drive by hosting a drive in July. For more information, contact Ed Faso at (510) 773-1868 or

Your support can help save lives.  American Red Cross



◊◊◊  California Council of Churches Covered CA

The “Covered California” health exchange is already operational, and the California Council of Churches is one of the 48 recipients of major grant funding to help you, your congregational members, communities that you serve, your friends and family all sign up for health care coverage through the Covered CA health exchange.

The California Council of Churches has six regional Certified Educator partners available to come to your church, social justice meetings, ecumenical and interfaith gatherings, campus ministries, ministerial associations, interfaith labor organizations, or denominational conferences.

The Educator for the Bay Area is Marijke Fakasiieiki who will be leading presentations in November to offer basic information on how the new health care exchange operates, how to obtain subsidies and supports for the costs of individual and family health care, how to obtain enrollment assistance during the Open Enrollment period starting October 1 through the end of next March 2014, and she is available to answer many of your questions.

Marijke will be presenting information on these dates:

  • Nov. 24, Sunday, 2:00 p.m., San Francisco Night Ministry Open Cathedral, Civic Center, Leavenworth @ McAllister near United Nations Plaza, San Francisco, CA

Contact: Marijke Fakasiieiki, (510) 529-5011,



Angelico Press/Sophia Perennis announces a book that could change the course of Christian/Muslim relations:  The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World by John Andrew Morrow. 

Muhammad’s treaties with Christians, which author John Andrew Morrow has rediscovered in obscure collections and often newly translated—providing also powerful arguments for their validity—uniformly state that Muslims are not to attack peaceful Christian communities but defend them “until the End of the World.” Thus The Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World represents an interfaith initiative by and for Muslims—since the Covenants are legally binding on them—and directed specifically to Christians, but open to responses from the faithful of any religion; we have named this effort “The Covenants Initiative.” Now that Christians are being persecuted the world over, sometimes by paramilitary forces who present themselves as Muslims while acting in violation of the shari’ah and receiving aid from the U.S., this book could not be more timely.  Find the Book at Amazon.

(View the Covenants and the Initiative at

JOHN ANDREW MORROW completed his Honors BA, MA, and PhD at the University of Toronto, as well as post-doctoral studies in Arabic in Morocco and at the University of Utah’s Middle East Center. Besides his academic training, he has also completed the full cycle of traditional Islamic seminary studies. He has served as a faculty member and administrator at numerous colleges and universities, and has authored and edited many books, including the Encyclopedia of Islamic Herbal Medicine (McFarland, 2011), Religion and Revolution: Spiritual and Political Islam in Ernesto Cardenal (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012), and Islamic Images and Ideas: Essays on Sacred Symbolism (McFarland, 2013).



◊◊◊  MedCHAT Conversations available to Faith Communities

The Center for Healthcare Decisions, a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Sacramento, is partnering with 20+ organizations throughout California to talk with the public about the future of Medicare. We want to learn their perspectives on what – if anything – should change to help keep Medicare solvent. These “MedCHAT” sessions are led by a skilled facilitator through a 3-hour, interactive non-partisan process that utilizes laptop computers and group discussion. It is an engaging, informative session; participants have ample opportunity to share their views and hear from others. It is not necessary that participants know about Medicare nor be receiving Medicare; in fact, since we have been successful reaching those on Medicare, we now are targeting people who are pre-Medicare age. The only other requirement is that participants are comfortable using a computer and a mouse.

Breakdown of responsibilities.  As a MedCHAT host, faith communities would:

  • Provide a meeting space that can hold 10-13 people at a conference table.
  • Set a date and time for their MedCHAT session.
  • Arrange for 9-12 individuals to attend this 3-hour session.
  • Provide refreshments for the participants (we can reimburse you for this if that would be helpful).

As MedCHAT staff, we will:

  • Provide the laptop computers, as necessary.
  • Provide a skilled facilitator to lead the session.
  • Provide recruitment materials for faith communities to use when talking with their congregants about this.
  • Work with them in organizing the meeting details. Additional information about our organization and the project is available at:




Mature individual, having a genuine interest in working in a hospice setting, needed for weekly visits at patients’ homes or skilled hospice facility. Volunteer may provide companionship, spiritual support, respite for family members, and bedside vigils. Volunteers need to successfully complete of the hospice’s volunteer training, screening, and orientation program. Ability to work with an interdisciplinary group essential. Please email for more information.

Also, if you or your congregation is interested in learning more about this work, I have two spiritual coordinators who are good presenters. Please let me know if you would like for them make a presentation to your community.



◊◊◊  SOULJOURN: New Resource for Religious Literacy (Adults and Young Adults): Become a SOULJOURNER – do what Joshua T. Stoneburner did, and explore the religious diversity of America. SOULJOURN is an interfaith educational resource based on the new novel by Jim Burklo, Associate Dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California. Reporting on five visits to religious communities of traditions other than your own, and answering 5 questions in the novel’s Study Guide, makes you a SOULJOURNER. To become an official certified SOULJOURNER, and for your congregation to offer welcome to SOULJOURNERS, click here. Report on your experiences of religious exploration – whether or not you want to be certified – at the comments section of the SOULJOURN blog at The blog is an ongoing conversation promoting religious literacy and interfaith cooperation. The SOULJOURN novel and the SOULJOURNER program are used as curriculum elements for religious education in congregations as well as in academic courses in comparative and world religion

A video interview about the book Study Guide for SOULJOURN — “Like” the SOULJOURNERS Facebook Page 

Welcome to SOULJOURN – the novel and the journey of interfaith exploration!

SOULJOURN is a novel with a mission: to inspire readers to explore the world’s religions, in their own “back yards”. SOULJOURN moves people to learn more about their own faiths by engaging personally with religious communities other than their own. It also inspires people to put their faith to work for the common good. The book is a conversation-starter – in dorms, living rooms, classrooms, coffee shops, and faith communities everywhere.

Become a SOULJOURNER – do what Joshua T. Stoneburner did, and explore the religious diversity of America. Reporting on five visits to religious communities of traditions other than your own, and answering 5 questions in the book’s Study Guide, makes you a SOULJOURNER. Sign up to become an official certified SOULJOURNER here. Report on your experiences of religious exploration – whether or not you want to be certified – at the COMMENTS section of the SOULJOURN blog at The blog is an ongoing conversation about exploring world religions and interfaith understanding and cooperation.

About the book: A thirst for God leads Joshua T. Stoneburner on a quest through the spiritual landscape of America. In his pickup truck, Joshua T. Stoneburner bounces down the back roads of America’s vast and irregular religious landscape, his tires kicking up dusty rooster-tails of questions about the nature of God and the purpose of life. Was it God he saw in the cactus? Josh isn’t giving up till he finds out, even if it turns his teenage years upside-down. His search for clues leads him into every form of spirituality he can find — enlightening, exasperating, and entertaining the people along his path. Each faith exposes more of the pattern in his vision, tantalizing the reader with religious revelations. Along his way, Josh is drawn toward stranded immigrants, a tormented church janitor, a café waitress and her young fraternal twins, a Native American scout for drug smugglers, and his own fumbling father’s love. Josh Stoneburner is the “coyote” spiriting the reader back and forth over the border of laughter and tears. By the end of the book, Josh has questioned his way into faithful compassion, rather than affiliating with any particular faith. SOULJOURN taps the aquifer of humor that exists under every religion, while it explores the ways that American culture, and every faith that crosses the US border, infect each other. SOULJOURN is an entertaining way to learn about the religions of the world, and to get inspired to learn a lot more.

To become a “certified SOULJOURNER”, create yourself an account at Visit 5 houses of worship/prayer of religious or spiritual traditions other than your own. Report on the places and dates of your visits, and your experiences at these religious communities, in at least a paragraph per site. Also, in at least two paragraphs per question, respond to any 5 of the SOULJOURN “Study Guide” questions. Post all these reports and responses as one “comment” on the COMMENTS section of the SOULJOURN blog, and you will receive an electronic “badge” from the SOULJOURNERS Credly site certifying your status as a SOULJOURNER. Anyone can become a SOULJOURNER! It’s also useful as a curricular supplement in world religion and other courses. (This “badge” can also be issued directly by teachers or other professionals in schools, colleges, universities, and other institutions via

About the Author:  Jim Burklo is the Associate Dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California. He is an ordained United Church of Christ minister and is the author of three previous books: Open Christianity, Birdlike and Barnless, and Hitchhiking to Alaska: The Way of Soulful Service. You can visit Jim’s website here.



◊◊◊  Sufi Dances of Universal Peace
Second Saturdays, 6:30 – 8:30 PM
Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church
55 Eckley Lane, Walnut Creek

All are welcome and invited to join in these uplifting and meditative evenings of chanting, singing and sacred circle dancing from the world’s faith tradition. Each simple dance is taught and accompanied by live music.

$10 suggested donation. Please bring a dish to share. Contact SierraLynne White at 925-685-2409 or



California Council of Churches Covered CA

Health Care Education Bay Area Events:  The “Covered California” health exchange will soon be operational, and the California Council of Churches is one of the 48 recipients of major grant funding to help you, your congregational members, communities that you serve, your friends and family all sign up for health care coverage through the Covered CA health exchange.

The California Council of Churches has six regional Certified Educator partners available to come to your church, social justice meetings, ecumenical and interfaith gatherings, campus ministries, ministerial associations, interfaith labor organizations, or denominational conferences.

The Educator for the Bay Area is Marijke Fakasiieiki who will be leading presentations in September to offer basic information on how the new health care exchange operates, how to obtain subsidies and supports for the costs of individual and family health care, how to obtain enrollment assistance during the Open Enrollment period starting this fall through the end of next March 2014, and she is available to answer many of your questions.

Marijke is available to present information in your congregation:  Contact: Marijke Fakasiieiki, (510) 529-5011,



Emergency Operations Plans for Congregations:  Last August, we were all horrified by the news of the shootings at the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Although we all hope and pray that we might never have to face such a situation in our own places of worship, the danger of such an attack remains real. In June, the White House released a Guide for Developing High Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship. This guide covers topics such as the planning process, what’s included in an emergency operations plan, and active shooter situations.



New Ministry in Contra Costa County:  What’s Mine is Yours has worked with Youth Homes , Shelter Inc, SRA (Students Rising Above , ) NCFS (Northern California Family Service) , Bay Area Crises Nursery, BAAFYFS (Bay Area Alliance for Youth and Family Services) and CYC (Concord Youth Center)  and some private clients and distrbuted over 1,700 pieces of clothing to the organizations . WMIY has collected over 4, 000 pieces and is growing everyday.

WMIY has a warehouse in Concord where clothing is sorted, cleaned, if necessary, and stored.  The main focus is on young girls clothing ages 12-17; however, they do occasionally receive boys clothing which they will keep.  Periodically they  receive  women’s “interview” type clothing which they also keep and when winter rolls around  they have a nice collection of winter coats to share with you.   The other agencies we work with  send an email to  WMIY  at with their needs/wish-list  and how they would like the items packed. The girls do their best to accomodate.  For example , Youth Homes sends us orders for specific girls and wants the order packed with the recipients  initials and the name of the house she is staying in on the outside of the box.  Shelter Inc prefers bags of ie: pants, size 8 and 10,  shirts size medium etc.  The more specific you can be in your requests the better . In looking over the records it would seem the average size delivery is 36 pieces and the turn around time for the delivery is 2-4 days.
We have also developed a unique ordering system just for Community Youth Center in Concord. We have provided one of their directors with an “order” slip that the family fills out. We have made deliveries directly to the family or dropped them at the center. As you can see, we are very flexible and would enjoy the opportunity to create a program just for you.
I would love to think there is some way we could work with your organization to help some of these families that are utilizing your amazing program.  My son’s baseball team served dinner at one of the church’s in concord that was hosting the program.  I attended to help out and ended up sitting with some of your “clients” sharing dinner with them and  hearing their stories.  It was very inspiring.
  Again, the majority of our clothing is for teen girls but we do several coat drives and accept all coats, regardless of size or gender.  The same goes for shoes.



Love To Sing ???

Do you have Monday night free? Then come and join the Walnut Creek Chorus! We sing a wide selection of music, from classical to modern,

Broadway to jazz, sacred and the occasional foreign piece. Two concerts a year, plus some sing-outs.

The Walnut Creek Chorus is a wonderful group based on integrity. Our director is Suzie Peterson, a well-known and well educated leader. Our accompanist is Joan Miller-very active in the Mt. Diablo Music Federation. We have been an all women group and are very much hoping to add a few men to our group for next semester’s Christmas/winter concert.

Openings for ALL voices. Small placement audition.
Dues/month : $30 Adults, $15 Students
Rehearsals : Mondays 7pm-9pm
Trinity Lutheran Church, 2317 Buena Vista Ave, Walnut Creek, CA 94597


A new 6-session Catholic and Jewish Curriculum
Walking God’s Paths: Christians and Jews in Candid Conversation
More information at

Walking God’s Paths is a six-session process to stimulate candid conversation between Jewish and Christian congregations. Produced by the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College on behalf and with the oversight of the National Council of Synagogues and the Bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, it is now made available online through special arrangement with the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations.


The series consists of 15-minute discussion-starting videotapes and a detailed online User’s Guide containing dialogue questions and resources. Participants will experience each tradition’s understanding of how it walks God’s path and how the two faith communities could relate to one another in positive ways.

Click on the panels below to view each episode. Use the four-arrows icon in the lower right corner of each panel for full screen viewing.



New URI Initiative:  Talking Back to Hate

A new campaign that United Religions Initiative is launching called Talking Back to Hate.  We are inviting local, national and international partners to join with us in promoting this campaign to counter hate speech, discrimination and bullying through education, advocacy and positive action. Sarah Talcott Blair would love to speak with those interested about the opportunity and to hear about the efforts you are currently involved in that relate to this work to respond to hate. Some of our confirmed partners include the San Francisco Interfaith Council, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Jewish Community Relations Council, the World Sikh Organization – Canada, and the Peace Alliance.  How can the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County as a URI Circle get involved?

If you or your community are interested, contact Sarah Talcott Blair, Talking Back to Hate Campaign Coordinator of the United Religions Initiative at  or visit



Results of the 2013 Homeless Count

Contra Costa Inter-jurisdictional Council on Homelessness and the Contra Costa Behavioral Health Homeless Program, has the results of the 2013 Homeless Count in a visual format that quickly conveys the homeless count data into more easily digestible information.   

Documenting the extent of homelessness in our community every two years through a point-in-time census is one critical way to help bring funding for homeless assistance into Contra Costa and allows our continuum of care to measure progress towards accomplishing the goals of Contra Costa’s Plan to End Homelessness.  Most notably, the 2013 Count resulted in 11% decrease in the total number of homeless tallied in 2011.  And, our Continuum’s work with West Contra Costa Unified School District to count unsheltered youth was highlighted in the California Homeless Youth Project’s report, “Hidden in Plain Sight: An Assessment of Youth Inclusion in Point-in-Time Counts of California’s Unsheltered Homeless Population.”

Thank you to the community volunteers, consumers, and service providers who helped make this count successful!  I look forward to our continued partnership to enhance services, create housing, and align resources to better meet the needs of the homeless in our community.  
For additional findings from the 2013 Homeless Count,  see the full infographic on our website.  You may also get more background information about the census and learn about our point in time count methodology by reading the narrative summary.
Questions:  Please contact Lavonna Martin, MPH, MPA
Acting Director, Homeless Programs
Contra Costa Health Services
phone (925) 313-6140 • fax (925) 313-6761

(A Side Note:  The Social Justice Alliance of the ICCCC has long questioned the numbers that have come from this survey.  The time of day of the survey, the places that counters are allowed to go, and other methodological questions have been raised.  Our Winter Night’s Shelter has experienced greater requests for inclusion in our program for parents with children so apparently the counters are not able to count all of those who are living in their cars, off and away from streets at 6:00 am, or couch surfing with family or friends.  The ultimate problem of studies such as this one is that funding that can actually decrease homeless depends on such studies.  Rev. Will)



American Muslims Mourn For Boston Marathon Victims 

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community condemns bombings and calls for unity against extremism

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA expresses its most heartfelt condolences to the victims and families affected by the bombings in Boston today and prays that God Almighty gives them patience, comfort and strength during this time of immense struggle. While details of the attack continue to emerge, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA condemns this horrific act in the strongest possible manner. The Community prays that those responsible for today’s bombing are swiftly brought to justice and that peace is once again restored.

“As Muslims, our duty is both to God and to humanity,” said Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA National Vice President Dr. Nasim Rehmatullah, “and we want our fellow Americans to be confident that we stand united with them, especially in this difficult time.” Moreover, the Community’s Boston chapter is available to provide assistance to those affected by this tragedy.

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA also commends the first responders, police officers, and firefighters for acting so quickly and courageously. Their heroism should not be forgotten.

About Ahmadiyya Muslim Community:

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is a dynamic, reformist and fast-growing international revival movement within Islam. Founded in 1889, the Community spans more than 200 countries with membership exceeding tens of millions. Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, established in 1920, is among the first American-Muslim organizations.

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the only Islamic organization to believe that the long- awaited messiah has come in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) of Qadian, India. Ahmad claimed to be the metaphorical second coming of Jesus of Nazareth and the divine guide, whose advent was foretold by the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. The Community believes that God sent Ahmad, like Jesus, to end religious wars, condemn bloodshed and reinstitute morality, justice and peace. Ahmad’s advent has brought about an unprecedented era of Islamic revival and moderation. He divested Muslims of fanatical beliefs and practices by vigorously championing Islam’s true and essential teachings. 



The Center for Spiritual Living Diablo Valley has bright, attractive space available to rent.
This space is suitable for spiritual or religious gatherings. It is also suitable for business meetings, 12 step programs or weddings and receptions. The location is on Civic Drive in Pleasant Hill.

Contact Rev. Carole Anderson at 925 363 9070, fax: 925 363 9071



West Contra Costa Family Justice Center Volunteer Opportunities

Want to learn valuable skills, meet interested and engaged people, and help your community?  Volunteer with us!  We are now seeking volunteers to assist with administrative work, supervise children, help maintain client comfort, and more!

The West Contra Costa Family Justice Center serves survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, child abuse, and elder abuse.

For position descriptions and application information, email or call 510-965-4933.



The Senior Home Front Foundation and Points of Life presents “A Nationwide Professional Resource Network”
Contact a Family Consultant-FREE
8AM -11PM Pacific Time (24/7 is coming)

If you are caring for a family member or friend; we have the nationwide resources to help.  Finding these resources can be time consuming and challenging; especially

if you are in a crisis. We have a comprehensive database, from Estate Planning Attorneys, Financial Advisors, CPA, Tax Attorneys, Psychologists, Nutritionists, Physicians, Chiropractors, Health and Wellness Specialists, Child Care, Long Term Care Insurance Brokers, Reverse Mortgage Specialists, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, In Home Care Non Medical Specialists, In Home Care Medical Specialists, Movers, Transportation, Senior Living Placement Specialists, Elder Coaches/Family Mediators, Emergency Call Alert Systems, Elder Care Technology, Medicare Specialists , Real Estate Specialists, Hospice, Funeral & Cemetery And much more.

Richard Wexler, J.D., President and CEO
Points of Life, LLC
925-984-0118 •
Health & Wellness • A Game Plan for Life • Education, Planning & Communication



Frank Talk with Dr. Ejaz on Toginet radio interviewed Professor John Esposito on Thursday March 21, 2013. You can now listen to it on the podcast. Dr. Esposito is a professor of Religion and International Affairs and Professor of Islamic studies at Georgetown University, Washington, DC. He is written over 25 books on various topics on religion, Islam, civilization and has served on the editorial board of numerous prestigious journals. He has appeared on numerous newspaper and media outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NY Times, CNN, ABC Nightline, CBS, NBC and BBC.

You can download the podcast by following the following link.

To listen to the interview, simply hit the “play” button on the podcast player under the title that bears your name (to the right of my picture).

To download the MP3 version, click on the title of the show – A chat with Dr. John Esposito (listed under “Recent Shows”).  Dr. Naqvi has also interviewed our Interim Executive Director, Rev. Will McGarvey, Board Co-Chair Rev. Leslie Takahashi-Morris, and our friend David Marshak of Congregation B’nai Shalom.

Board Member Dr. Ejaz Naqvi’s interview with Bishop Swing.  The podcast can be found at:

To listen to the interview, simply hit the “play” button on the podcast player under the title that bears his name (to the right of my picture).

To download the MP3 version, click on the title of the show – “A chat with Bishop Swing” (listed under “Recent Shows”).



Grant Money Offered to Stop Gun Violence Problem

Worldview Publishing, Inc. is offering grant money to help solve a serious gun violence problem. Starting March 15th schools, juvenile justice and community youth programs will be awarded grant money for the Tough Choices program

The Tough Choices™, beyond anger management program is a proven prevention program that stops the escalation of gun violence through an emotional health program that provides mentoring, monitoring and life/stress management skills. Kids desperately need a gripping and easy to implement, research based, emotional skills training program that can provide daily monitoring and mentoring.

The Tough Choices™ DVD lessons and worksheets provide a trusting space for kids to open up. This is to counteract today’s escalating isolation and violence. This proven prevention piece is required to provide opportunities to connect to kids and heal their anger, release grudges, and pay it forward through daily activities that teach these kids healthy coping skills. The layers of this holistic program heal the root causes of unchecked anger, bullying, suicide, gun violence, addictions and emotional isolation. Through a video driven curriculum, Tough Choices™ provides a unique healing piece, systematic skills training and a gripping wake-up call for the culture that needs to get emotionally connected.

Anyone can implement this plug and play DVD driven program which is in 1,000’s of middle schools, high schools, alternative schools, juvenile justice facilities, mental health hospitals, community programs, and private mental health practices. Tough Choices™ for ages 12 to adult, was also chosen as a pilot program for the national job corps. A preview of the curriculum kit contents, DVD’s, worksheets and clinical statistics can be found at:

More information at this link.



Summer Exchange Students from France:  Several French students (ages 14 – 17) will be flying into the Bay Area this summer for 3 – 4 weeks and looking for a homestay with an American family. Most of these kids speak English fairly well. This is a wonderful cultural exchange program both for the host family and the French students. The student is treated as a member of the host family while here and comes with his/her own spending money. We compensate host families $50/week. Contact Debbie Daugherty, Program Coordinator Compass-USA at or(925) 939-7376.



Senior Home Front Foundation Presents Points of Life

When three of Richard and Anna Wexler’s parents became very ill at the same time they realized there was no instruction manual for this point in their life. They were living in a maturing family, with two parents, two in-laws, two school aged children and two careers.

Through this experience, Richard founded Points of Life, teaching families through their edutainment approach about preparing for this point in their life. Their unique methods are important for both the adult child and the older loved one. They teach an important message in an educational and entertaining way, showing folks how to communicate these lessons with other family members.

To bring Points of Life and their edutainment  approach to your location please call: 925-984-0118.

Senior Home Front Foundation supports senior care non-profit organizations that focus on senior care and services, senior health education, and gerontology research. The foundation’s Caregiver’s Fund benefits caregivers in need. Fundraising efforts by the Foundation help improve the lives of seniors and those who care for aging loved ones. Through education, service and fundraising events the Foundation’s mission is to help provided needed care for those who are unable to care for themselves. Donations will directly support Senior Home Front Foundation.

The Way of the Dreamcatcher: Spirit Lessons with Robert Lax:  Poet – Peacemaker – Sage. by S.T. Deorgiou.

A disillusioned young journeys to a remote Greek isle in search of renewal.  By chance he meets an elderly hermit who helps him in his quest.  The sage turns out to be none other than Robert Lax, (1915-2000), a major minimalist poet and close friend fo Thomas Merton.  Their conversations offer an unprecedented and revealing description of the man Merton said, “was born with the deepest sense of who God is,” and whom Jack Kerouac described as “a strange wonderful laughing Buddha.”

Monthly Baha’i Interfaith devotional gathering is on the first Friday of the month, at the Nours residence, at 7:30 p.m. in Walnut Creek.

To go, please call Kamyar Nour at 925-864-4958 and bring prayers from your tradition to share. If there is more demand for it, they will add additional evenings. The Baha’is of Walnut Creek have a website at



Interfaith Board Game Available to check out.

As many of you consider giving gifts to friends and loved ones in this season, perhaps “webelieve2,” the interfaith board game, would resonate with the hearts of some. It’s being used successfully throughout the country to promote unity and understanding in families, groups and congregations.

Here’s a link to a recent article on the United Religious Initiative web site introducing the game to others.
New Resource: Interfaith Board Game
Please receive my thanks and pass it along to anyone that you think might be interested.  Gratefully, Rev. Duane Moret, creator of the game

The Interfaith Council offices have 4 sets of the game that can be checked out for use by member groups.  Please contact Susan in the office to reserve a copy for your event.



Winter Prevention Program at Meals on Wheels and Senior Outreach Services.

Gennifer Mountain:  Fall Prevention Program Manager with Meals on Wheels is available to offer a presentation to your congregations.  They are a non-profit, do not charge and are very much wanting to share safety tips with the community.  Please contact Gennifer to get the application form to schedule your presentations today at or 925-937-8311, ext. 110.



New Class “Introduction to Islamic Creeds for Young Muslims” by Dr. Nobahar
Saturdays 12-1 pm

Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California in Oakland is happy to announce a new English class for the young Muslims taught by our religious director, Dr. Rahim Nobahar, this fall.  Dr. Nobahar teaches “Introduction to Islamic Creeds” for young Muslims ages 14 to 24 years old.  The class meet from 12 to 1pm on Saturdays, in sha Allah, the class will continue.  For more information please contact



Marty Brounstein, author of “Two Among the Righteous Few” is available to come to your congregation, Interfaith Council, or organization to share this story of courage and faith.  This is the story of a Christian couple, Frans and Mien Wijnakker, who saved the lives of at least two dozen Jews during World War II and the Holocaust.  This true and remarkable story has a meaningful personal connection as well, as Marty explains in his engaging book talks. or 650.341.8001.



“The Man Who Sent the Magi,” by Douglas Krotz from the Baha’i community in Walnut Creek.  Check out the link below for when he is sharing about the book, or to invite Douglas to come to your community.



Book on Islam:  What do you know about Islam?  What does this faith, followed by more than one-fifth of the world’s people, really teach?

Dr. Amer Araim lives in Walnut Creek and welcomes your invitation to discuss Islam and answer your questions. His new book “Understanding Islam: Fifty Questions” is available at

“Dignified and eloquent, Araim is an advocate of interfaith dialogue and his goals are to share with his audience the roots of his faith, bringing out what they have in common, leading to an audience understanding that American Muslims are no different than themselves.”

– Sophie Braccini, Lamorinda Weekly, March 20, 2011

“In his book Dr. Amer Araim strives to clear up misconceptions of Islam.”

– Contra Costa Times, December 30, 2010.

Dr. Araim is President of the Islamic Community Outreach of California, Muslim Imam and member of the Executive Committee of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County.  He is also Adjunct Professor at Diablo Valley College and former Secretary of the United Nations Special Committees against Apartheid and on Decolonization.

For information or to arrange presentation, please contact or 925.934.1794 or PO Box 21, Walnut Creek, California 94597.  Http://



The Quran: With or Against the Bible?
A Topic-by-Topic Review for the Investigative Mind
The answer to the questions you were too afraid to ask.
Watch the video trailer: Click here

No other book in the recent past has generated so much attention as the Holy Quran. Religion seems to have once again taken a prominent role in our society, especially in politics. The scriptures remain arcane to an average person and there are many mis conceptions and myths surrounding the teachings of the Scriptures. Moreover, much of the available comparative literature tends to glorify one scripture, while being critical of the other.

Breaking the trend, author Dr. Ejaz Naqvi (also a member of the Executive Committee of the ICCCC) provides a non-polemical and objective, topic-by-topic review of the two most read books in the world-the Holy Bible and the Holy Quran. Dispelling major myths, The Quran: With or Against the Bible? systematically analyzes the similarities in the paths of guidance the two scriptures have bestowed upon mankind, though the key differences are also outlined. The thematic review of the Scriptures and comparison with a focus on finding the similarities, all presented in a single volume, make this book unique among the available literature on religion.

Many provocative questions are asked throughout the book. Do the Quran and the Bible teach a different set of ethics? Is the “God of the Quran” the same as “the God of the Bible”? What does the Quran really teach about the interfaith dialogue? Does the Quran render women as second-class citizens? Do the Quran and the Bible promote violence or peace? What does the Quran teach about Jihad? The emphasis is on the actual quotes from the Quran and the Bible, all the while limiting a commentary.  Order on line:



Theological Education Leadership courses at PSR
The TEL program will begin a new ONLINE series of classes for laity and clergy alike.  Please go to this link to see all of the opportunities.



Strengthen Your Community – One Tax Return At A Time

Volunteer as a tax preparer with Earn It! Keep It! Save It! to help Bay Area residents stand on their own and bring back money to our local economy. Join our movement of 3,000+ volunteers helping individuals, families, seniors, and other community members file their tax returns. We will provide you with free IRS-certified training and connect you to a local tax service site (200+ in the Bay Area) to help your community.

✔ Serve your community and give back
✔ Learn a valuable skill that looks great on a resume
(We’ll train you! No tax experience necessary – just a desire to help others)
✔ Flexible hours – volunteer 3-6 hours per week at a local site with hours suitable to your schedule
✔ Help the local economy – our 2012 economic impact was $68.1 million!

Sign up TODAY at or contact Breana Stokes at for more information.



Interfaith Youth Speakers Panel Description and Overview:

URI’s Youth Speakers Program is an innovative, new approach which brings genuine personal narratives into the classroom setting and opens up peer-to-peer conversations about important topics such as bullying, religious discrimination, and identity issues.

Student speakers will have the opportunity to be a part of a like-minded cohort of young people developing their oral histories and being empowered to share their stories with the larger community. Participating students will have the unique opportunity to be trained in leadership skills and public speaking in order to add a personal perspective to widespread social issues.

Speakers will travel around the Bay Area to give presentations in high schools and community organizations. Students will be paid for each speaking engagement in which they participate.

Goals of the Panel:

  •  To open dialogue about identity, bullying, and religious discrimination
  • To empower young people to share personal experiences and how they positively responded to discrimination
  • To provide students with the tools to deliver their narratives in an impactful and compelling way
  • To enable students speakers to encourage their peers to take action against discrimination in their own communities

To participate in a panel or sign up to host a panel, contact:
Krithika Harish (415) 561 – 2300
Emily Schwartz (415) 561- 2300



A Prayer for the World
by Rabbi Harold S. Kushner

Le the rain come and was away
the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds
held and nurtured over generations.
Let the rain wash away the memory
of the hurt, the neglect.
Then le the sun come out and
fill the sky with rainbows.
Let the warmth of the sun heal us
wherever we are broken.
Let it burn away the fog so that
we can see each other clearly.
So that we can see beyond labels,
beyond accents, gender or skin color.
Let the warmth and brightness
of the sun melt our selfishness.
So that we can share the joys and
feel the sorrows of our neighbors.
And let the light of the sun
be so strong that we will see all
people as our neighbors.
Let the earth, nourished by rain,
bring forth flowers
to surround us with beauty.
And let the mountains teach our hearts
to reach upward to heaven.


Mission Statement

We as people from a diversity of religions, spiritual traditions and sectors of society, gather to manifest our unity as we promote the spirit of community, service and cooperation through the work of the Interfaith Council.


The Council is able to sustain the Chaplaincy Program and provide these minitries only because of the generous and regular support of people like you and congregations such as yours. These ministries are carried out on your behalf, and would not be possible without your support.

Contributions toward the work of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County may be sent by check or money order to 1543 Sunnyvale Ave., Walnut Creek, CA 94597. Designations toward one of our programs, including the chaplaincy ministry of the Rev. Dr. Charles Tinsley, may be noted on the memo line.

The Interfaith Council is a 501(c)(3) organization, and all contributions are tax-deductible to the extent of the law.