BAIC July 2017

Bay Area Interfaith ConnectThe Interfaith Center at the Presidio links the power of interreligious cooperation by welcoming, serving, and celebrating the diverse wisdom and faith traditions of the Bay Area.

IN THIS ISSUE: America’s Sacred Ground| Arnautoff Book | NAINConnect 2017 | Around the Bay| GTU Exhibits Vestments | Parliament 2018 | The Interfaith Observer | Notes & Quotes | Send Us Your News | Bay Area Interreligious Calendar | Special Opportunities | Subscribe to BAIC

Interfaith Center at the PresidioCongress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .
First Amendment, United States Constitution

The Fourth of July is not only a time for picnics, barbecues, and fireworks. It is also a time when the people of the United States give thanks for the freedoms that we enjoy. Among those is the freedom to believe and worship freely. In these days, freedom of worship and the necessary respect for all religious traditions is being sorely tried.

According to Barbara A. McGraw, what lies at the core of the American experience is freedom of conscience– she calls it “America’s Sacred Ground.” McGraw, director of the Center for Engaged Pluralism at St. Mary’s College in Moraga and a familiar participant in interfaith conversations in the Bay Area, writes in her book Rediscovering America’s Sacred Ground (SUNY Press, 2003):

It is safe to say that freedom of conscience generally was considered by the founders to be the most important of the inalienable rights. In fact, freedom of conscience had been recognized as inalienable in the state constitutions and declarations of rights even before freedom of speech had been so recognized [81].

Some still argue that the Founders of this nation had only Christians in mind when securing religious liberty, but it is clear that many understood, like Richard Henry Lee, that “. . . we are not disposed to differ much, at present, about religion: but when we are making a constitution, it is to be hoped, for ages and millions yet unborn, why not establish the free exercise of religion, as a part of the national compact?” Such freedom “embraces the Mahomitan [Moslem] and the Gentoo [Hindu] as well as the Christian religion” [83].

So how ever you may celebrate this July 4th, take a moment to give thanks for the gift of religious freedom established by those whose vision was broad enough to enable us to seek our own consciences and to explore ways to work together for the good of all.


Victor Arnautoff and the Politics of ArtA new book has been published about Victor Arnautoff, the artist who created the mural in the Post Chapel. Written by California historian Robert Cherney, Victor Arnautoff and the Politics of Art is not only a biography of the muralist who created many projects at the Presidio, Coit Tower and elswhere, but places his art in the context of the social and political tenor of the times.

Commissioned in 1935, the Chapel mural shows an image of St. Francis, patron saint of San Francisco, flanked by panels devoted to the early history of California and activities of the Army of the day, along with development of the Golden Gate Bridge. Find out more about Arnautoff and the Chapel mural in this brochure.


The Local San Diego Planning Group has extended the $349 Registration fee for the 2017 NAIN Conference until July 14th.  On July 15th, the price goes to $399. UCSD has also extended its apartment registration to that date!

The conference takes place August 6-10 in San Diego, California. Over 80 speakers have been scheduled, along with trips to historic and faith-based locations in the San Diego area. They are expecting 200 attendees from across North America.  Keynote speakers include Author Azim Khamisa, Catholic Monsignor Dennis Mikulanis, Imam Taha Hassane and a surprise speaker. More than twelve workshops will complement tours of local religious sites and historic Old Town San Diego. The Temple Adat Shalom choir, directed by Cantor Lori Frank, will present songs from “INTERFAITH: The Musical,” created by Ruth Broyde Sharone, The conference will be held at the Price Center at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). Full details and registration can be found at


  • Marin Interfaith Council has named the Rev. Scott Quinn as their new Executive Director. Scott had served this past year as the Interim Director, following the Rev. Carol Hovis, who had been E.D. for 12 years.  Rev. Quinn previously served with the Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley. In a recent interview with the Marin Independent Journal, Rev. Quinn spoke about the challenges of interfaith work, using an example of a Buddhist mudra meditation position– one hand in front with palm forward, the other open at one’s side.   “We say ‘no’ with the one hand to what we in good consciousness must resist because it is unjust,” he said. “On the other hand, we also hold out a hand of welcoming, saying while we may not be in agreement … we welcome you as a human being.”
  • A so-called “March Against Sharia” was sponsored June 10 in Santa Clara by ACT for America, an organization claiming to protect American values but which is listed as an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The 21 people who showed up were faced by a thousand-person “Unity Rally” sponsored by over 130 local religious and community organizations, including Interfaith Center at the Presidio, Interfaith Council of Alameda County, Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County, Silicon Valley Interreligious Council, and Tri-City Interfaith Council.  Marin Interfaith Council held an interfaith vigil in solidarity with the Muslim Community on June 15. The Bay Area groups also issued a Joint Statement Against Hate. Read more here.
  • The Office for Religious Life at Stanford University has named Sughra Ahmed, a Muslim chaplain who most recently served at Yale University, as associate dean for religious life. Ahmed, who has served as president of the Islamic Society of Britain and was named Muslim Woman of the Year in the United Kingdom in 2014, will join the campus community in autumn quarter. Read more here.


Sacred Garments exhibitionGTU EXHIBIT OF ORTHODOX VESTMENTS. The Doug Adams Gallery at the Graduate Theological Union is offering a display of ten striking Orthodox Christian vestments, telling the story of Orthodoxy throughout the world. The exhibit highlights the questions of these garments as art, sacred items and functional clothing, while keeping their individual cultural contexts at the heart of the discussion. Come and learn about a two-thousand-year-old tradition, passed down from third century Byzantium and kept alive around the world to this day. Free & open to the public.

Sacred Garments: Orthodox Christian Vestments from Around the World
On view June 6 – August 18, 2017
Closing Reception: Thursday, August 17, 5-7pm
Doug Adams Gallery, 2465 Le Conte Avenue, Berkeley

ICPParliament of the World's ReligionsPARLIAMENT OF THE WORLD”S RELIGIONS

Toronto,  Canada
November 1-7, 2018

The Parliament is a unique opportunity to meet people engaged in interfaith work from around the world. Mark the dates now, and watch for more news to come! Find out more at the Parliament website.


Vitality is necessary for interfaith work. We need a certain level of energy to face the joys and the challenges surrounding religion. The stories in this month’s issue represent instances of interfaith vitality across the spectrum. We hope they spark and invigorate your own!   –TIO Team

The Interfaith Observer (TIO) is an independent internet journal about all things interfaith. Each month TIO goes to more than 12,000 faith and interfaith leaders, including about 2,300 outside the U.S. More than 350 writers have contributed articles. Download back issues. Subscribe for free.

ICPNOTES & QUOTES: “Everyone is contemplative, however not everyone knows it. We’ve all had mystical experiences although we may have failed to recognize them. The frequency and intensity of experiences may vary, but everyone has tasted life’s great mystery.” – Jeff Genung… ” I am not interested in compromising my relationship with my God, but rather believe that welcoming a friend from a different background is doing far more for the Gospel of Peace, than simply arguing a dogmatic position. In fact, I would dare to say, it is doing exactly what Jesus would want.” – Deborah-Ruth Ferber… “No leader is going to give us peace, no government, no army, no country. What will bring peace is inward transformation which will lead to outward action. ” – Jiddu Krishnamurti

ICPSEND US YOUR NEWS! We at Bay Area Interfaith Connect make every effort to include upcoming interfaith events in our monthly calendar (which is always available on our website). Please be sure to send information about your upcoming events to .img@.img. We’d also like to share what happened at your events or celebrations with the wider interfaith community. Got a story you’d like to share? Pictures from that latest gathering? Send them along and let everyone know what’s happening!


Our searchable new calendar page offers listings of interfaith opportunities for learning, celebration, taking action, and celebrating the diverse religious traditions of the Bay Area. The calendar can be viewed as a list, as a monthly calendar page, or by the week.


KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS WEBINARS. Know Your Neighbors: Multifaith Encounters has launched a webinar series in an effort to share interfaith ideas and resources within and outside of the coalition. Past webinars and resources shared by the participants are available, as well as links to upcoming webinars that are available to join. Sessions now available include:

  • Grounding, Re-focus, and Living the Best Expressions of our Faiths
  • “Meet a Muslim” and Other Ways to Address Islamophobia in Your Community
  • Interfaith 101: First Steps in Building Interfaith Relations
  • Interfaith Dinner Dialogues: How to Host in Your Community
  • Demystifying Sikhism, Hinduism, and Islam
  • How to Engage in Interfaith Work During Ramadan: Know Your Neighbor Webinar

TAPPING INTO GOD. Debbie Belmessieri, author of  Tapping Into God: Experiencing the Spiritual Spectrum, is raising funds to produce the second episode of a film series based on her book. The series features practitioners of diverse faith traditions (who were profiled in the book) coming together for a spontaneous dialogue in order to find commonalities. After completing the pilot episode, they were inspired to find that two people of different faiths could interact and support each other in a way where no one was made to feel right or wrong.  Viewers will come away with a better understanding of how deeply our humanity unites us in spite of our apparent differences. More information and a chance to support the effort can be found at GoFundMe.

ICPBAY AREA INTERFAITH CONNECT is sent each month to nearly 2,000 subscribers, and is available online at the Interfaith Center at the Presidio website.

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About the Editor: D. Andrew Kille is director of Interfaith Space in San Jose, working to develop and strengthen interfaith relations throughout the Bay Area. Send your calendar items, comments and suggestions to .img@.img. We try to keep the ICP Update and Calendar as current as we can, but if you want your item included in the monthly newsletter, it needs to be in our hands a week before the end of the month.