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Outgoing Council members: Rev. Leslie Takahashi, Darlene Cioffi-Pangila, Gwen Watson, Rev. Margaretmary Staller. Brent & Drena Halverson are on their mission and missed the meeting.

+++  ICCCC Annual Meeting
We thank all of those who were able to attend our Annual Meeting on Nov. 2nd.  We elected 5 new people to the Elected Council.

  • Rev. Hubert Ivery, Orinda United Methodist Church
  • Mary Lee Dodd, Crisis Response Team, St. Luke’s Episcopal Rossmoor
  • Peter Brooks, Sufism Reoriented, White Pony Express, Walnut Creek
  • Rev. Caroline Knowles, Unitarian Universalist Church, Berkeley, Chaplaincy Team
  • Evelyn & Stuart Candland, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Oakland Stake




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The Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County is an autonomous local organization committed to supporting the religions and communities of our county.

i4c-logoquilt1-225x300Mission 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 ministries 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.



Can you help us save money by emailing our newsletter to you?  If so, please send your name and email address to Jessica in the office at

The Juvenile Detention Chaplaincy, under the direction of the Rev. Dr. Charles Tinsley, ministers to young people in the facilities in Martinez and Byron.  If you want to read Dr. Tinsley’s eBook on his ministry, please follow this link! 

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The Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County presents:  The Making a Difference Awards!

Sahar receiving the Making a Difference Award

Sahar receiving the Making a Difference Award. On Monday, December 17th, ICCCC Interim Exec. Dir. Rev. Will McGarvey met with Sahar Berjis in her home to present her with our Making a Difference Award.

This year’s ICCCC’s County Wide “Making A Difference Award” is awarded to Sahar Berjis –Spiritual Assemblyof the Baha’is of Danville. Each week, Sahar holds character-building classes in her home for neighborhood children of all faiths and of no faith. As she describes it:

“This class is more than a curriculum: it’s a way of life for these kids. Love. Kindness. Justice. Service. The virtues are the very meaning and purpose of our lives. They are universally valued by people of all faiths and cultures. These values are moral in nature and not based on rituals or doctrines, so parents can be at ease from the outset that the intention is to provide moral and character education, not to teach children a particular religion. We seek ways to renew and deepen our connection with the values that give direction to our lives, and we strive to mentor our children in the tools of character they need to navigate these turbulent times, when they are exposed to so many harmful influences.”

During the past decade, the worldwide Baha’i community has shifted its child-education resources away from venues that focus on Baha’i children learning Baha’i doctrine, in order to serve children of all backgrounds at the neighborhood level, in a mixed faith setting. The implementation of the “neighborhood children’s class” model has been left to the individual initiative of Baha’i mothers of young children, among others, who follow a basic curriculum and share with one another what they learn, both locally and internationally.

An early adopter of this model in our area, Sahar each week welcomes 15 neighborhood children (and their moms from a variety of faiths) into her home to explore together the values we all share. Sahar has the gratitude of the Spiritual Assembly, for her wisdom and her audacity, in quietly leading the way through example, to implement this initiative to uplift rising generations, and to mentor junior youth of the present generation as collaborators in this work.

Sahar Berjis' Award






Sahar wanted to make sure we recognized all of the others teaching such classes around the county and world.  What a great way to teach virtues to each and every child.  Here is a Baha’i song shared at the presentation of Sahar’s award that displays the Baha’i’s commitment to interfaith education of children.

Educate These Children, by Nabil & Karim

2012 Making A Difference Award Winners

2012 Making A Difference Award Winners

Meet all of the Making a Difference Honorees. (The listing is alphabetical – with those who nominated them. Then a brief description of why they were nominated.)

Rabbi Raphael Asher – Alison Negrin, Executive Chief, John Muir Health System. For his continued commitment to create connections between our diverse faiths with his steadfast efforts to educate and spread awareness in both his own congregation and throughout the community.  He is a true ambassador representing the many people in our community who embrace differences and search for what we have in common.

Daska Babcock & Husband George Haloholo – Doug Krotz. Daska has included in her law practice a series of pro bono immigration matters in which she represents women fleeing intrafamily sexual abuse or domestic violence experienced in their home countries. Daska has enjoyed a nearly perfect record of success in her representations of women seeking asylum.  This fall, Daska and her husband, George Halaholo, together with several youth in their extended family, have developed a series of free clinics to raise awareness within the Pacific Islander community about President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or “DACA.” George has been instrumental in securing logistical support for the DACA clinics from Tongan and Fijian churches in northern and southern California, Seattle, Salt Lake City, and Nampa, Idaho.

Mohammad Ashraf Chaudhry – Dr. Nazeer Ahmed, PhD,MBA,PE  CEO, Delixus Group. It was August 11, 2007. The Islamic Center of the East Bay was burned down in Antioch. Many suspected that it was a case of arson. Mr. Chaudhry went to work. He reached out to all the churches, synagogues, temples and houses of worship in the area. In his published writings in well known journals, Mr. Chaudhry has always emphasized moderation and modernity.

Terry Clark – Lafayette Orinda Presbyterian Church. has made a difference in our LOPC congregation through his passion for interfaith understanding and connection.  He planned and organized a five part series on the Abrahamic faiths, with presentations from Christian, Jewish and Muslim scholars.  Terry has guided our congregation to learn about, support and develop relationships with our sisters and brothers in other faith traditions. Terry is making a difference in how we practice our faith and in other religious institutions as together we come to recognize our connectedness and shared values.

Ann Custer – Rev.s Will McGarvey and Christy Parks Ramage of East County Shared Ministry. For her many years of service in the community. She served as Minister of Music for 50 years at Community Presbyterian Church of Pittsburg.  Even in retirement, Ann’s volunteering with community music sharing and other community groups makes her an example for emulation.

Mary Fenelon Mount Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church. For Mary’s many years of service in the community working for peace and interfaith understanding.

Vicki Hackett – Marijke Fakasiieki Hillcrest Congregational Church (UCC). Without whom our Interfaith Kidz Camp would not have been possible!

Jaleh Kilpatrick  – Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i Community of Walnut Creek. Jaleh has been active in Interfaith efforts. She has been an energetic organizer of Baha’i communities all over the county to participate in Interfaith efforts providing food to homeless shelters. She helped promote the recent Interfaith blood drive among Baha’i communities, and participated in supporting it.  On the international front, in the face of the prohibition of the Iranian government on education for Baha’is in Iran, she teaches English to them via the internet.

Bonnie Lawton – Rev. Carole Anderson, Center for Spiritual Living Diablo Valley. Bonnie volunteers at the Juvenile Detention Center in Martinez.  A retired teacher.  Every Wednesday night she reads to the boys over an intercom system.

Martha Lopez – Rev. Carole Anderson, Center for Spiritual Living Diablo Valley. Volunteer at the Juvenile Detention Center in Martinez.  Martha has volunteered at the JDC for the last couple of years.  Once a week she meets with a group of girls in an Alateen group.

Joe Macaluso – Christ the King Parish. Joe is a retired Social Worker (MSW).

Associate member of the Carmelite Order.  Chair of the Adult Education Committee at Christ the King Parish.  Eucharistic Minister at Mass each week and a choir vocalist each Saturday evening.  He is the Volunteer Case Manager for the clients in the Winter Nights Shelter and a member of the ICCCC Homeless Summit.  He is an active member of H.E.L.P Support Group for individuals with mental illness and their caregivers, and a member of the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill in Contra Costa.

Warren McGuffinThomas Kring on behalf of San Ramon Valley UMC. For his work with the people of Thomas, Haiti.  Warren has developed a special relationship with the school in Thomas.  At the present time, he, and others have established a lunch time feeding program for the children of the school in Thomas.  They are securing the technology (computer donations, etc.) to provide the teaching tools that are so desperately needed.  They are also securing water filtration systems and propane cooking units to bolster the health of the people of Haiti.

Eartha Newsong   – Babs Winbigler & Katrina Staten of Orinda Community Church. For ten and a half intense, formative years, Eartha served Muslim women and their families as day nun-nurse-midwife/tutor/clinician/nurse trainer, and as night surgeon/birthing doctor.  Eartha has traveled easily amongst our Muslim communities building natural, lasting relationships, and as a mighty power of one, she has gracefully sutured interfaith relationships between Muslim, Jewish and Christian congregations that are eager to create bonds of tolerance and understanding with other religious faiths.  Twice a month at Orinda Community Church Eartha leads a Namaste Service for all faith seekers of social justice and religious reformation.

Lucille Owens – Susie Kohl, President Interfaith Council of Rossmoor. Lucille pursued the Golden Rain Foundation to grant a space to nurture faith in Rossmoor.  Developed a Crisis Response Spiritual Support Team in Rossmoor.  Active supporter of the Sufism Reoriented building project, writing letters, and attending public meetings. An active participant in the Interfaith Council of Rossmoor. She also hosts an interfaith book club in her home.

Ralph WolffRaman Kular, Ik Onkar Peace Foundation. Ralph is the President of Ik Onkar Peace Foundation and the Executive Director of WASC.

Sierra Lynn White – Rev. Brian Rose, Sufi order, Universal Dances of Peace. Sierra is the head of our local dances of universal peace team is a person of the highest excellence whose service to the interfaith community (in leadership, service, encouragement, and participation) has made a huge difference within and outside our congregation.

Press Release

Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County announces the appointment of their interim Executive Director, Rev. Will McGarvey.

August 25, 2012

Walnut Creek- CA: The Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County (ICCCC) proudly announced the appointment of Rev. Will McGarvey as their interim Executive Director. This position was left vacant when their prior Executive Director, Rev. Brian Stein-Webber, left the council to take a position with Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary after serving and representing the council for nearly 12 years. The appointment of Rev. McGarvey is effective September 1, 2012. In this role, Rev. McGarvey will be responsible for overseeing the overall functions of the council and play a leading role in furthering its objectives. Rev. Will McGarvey continues to serve part-time as pastor at Community Presbyterian Church of Pittsburg, CA, East County Shared Ministry, as he takes on the part-time work at the Council.

“The work of the Interfaith Council is so important here in Contra Costa County. Our work supporting Winter Nights Shelter, the Chaplaincy in the Juvenile Detention Facility, and our Social Justice Alliance provide an opportunity for people of faith to work together to make our county a better place. I’m happy to be able to help the Executive Committee focus on our mission, and organize our committees to help the member congregations work toward greater understanding among our faith groups. This is among the most important work toward peace during this time of increasing religiously motivated violence,” said Rev. McGarvey after accepting the appointment.

“We are so thrilled to have Rev. Will McGarvey back in a leadership role. The Executive Committee of the council was unanimous in its decision to appoint him to this position. Will is greatly respected in interfaith circles, and his prior experience and working knowledge of the council will be extremely valuable when he rolls up his sleeves to go to work. We are looking forward to working with him to promote interfaith harmony and understanding, and to make a difference in each of our communities,” said Rev. Alexis Easton, President of ICCCC, on behalf of its Executive Committee and member organizations.

About Rev. McGarvey: Rev. Will McGarvey has served as pastor at Community Presbyterian Church of Pittsburg, CA, a PC (USA)-UCC congregation, for the last eight years. CPC shares ministry with their sister congregation, First Congregational Church of Antioch (UCC). Will grew up in the LDS tradition and served a two-year mission in New England before finding a new spiritual path within Progressive Protestantism.He has long been active in interfaith circles, including the early meetings that organized interfaith chaplains for the 2012 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Will did his seminary studies at San Francisco Theological Seminary, where he specialized in theology of the environment. Rev. McGarvey served on the Executive Committee of the ICCCC from 2004 to 2010, acting as Vice President for many of those years. He has also been a part of East County United, an association of the Council that does programming and events in East County.


About Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County:  

ICCCC is a non-profit, 501 c (3) organization solely governed by its Executive Committee. Its mission states, “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 Interfaith Council, as the Council of Churches, was originally organized for the primary purpose of providing chaplaincy ministries in various county institutions on behalf of local congregations. The Council became interfaith in 1997, widening its membership to include congregations and faith organizations that represent the growing pluralistic population of Contra Costa County. The council remains committed to supporting the religious and communities in our county. Program areas have expanded to include Health and Faith in Action, Social Justice, Finance, Spirituality, Youth and Education.

There are 106 congregations and organizations holding membership and affiliation from a wide range of Christian and other faith traditions, including Jewish, Buddhist, Baha’i, Unitarian, Islamic, Hindu, New Thought, Sikh, Sufi, Unity, Latter-Day Saints, and Religious Science.

The Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County depends on contributions from member congregations and individuals who support our mission of promoting interfaith understanding.  To make a tax deductible donation, please make your check to Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County and mail it to our office at 1543 Sunnyvale Avenue, Suite 205; Walnut Creek, CA 94597.  For credit card donations, please visit our web site: and go to the Contribute page.

Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County

1543 Sunnyvale Ave.

Walnut Creek, CA 94597

925.933.6030 office

Rev. Will McGarvey can be contacted at:

925.597.9797 mobile

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.