Interfaith Center at the Presidio

Interfaith Center at the PresidioUnleashing the Power of Interreligious Cooperation

The Interfaith Center at the Presidio welcomes, serves, and celebrates the diverse spiritual wisdom and faith traditions of the Bay Area and is networked with interfaith groups locally and globally. Located at the Post Chapel in the Presidio of San Francisco, ICP’s core activities include:

  • Developing local and global connections, and
  • Creating interfaith learning environments and resources.

Two key elements of our linking work are:

  • Bay Area Interfaith Connect: A monthly newsletter of events, opportunities, and reflection on things interfaith here in the Bay Area and around the World
  • Bay Area Interreligious Calendar: Continually updated calendar of events in our area of interest to building relationships and connections to each other

Prayers for the people of Las Vegas

Interfaith Peace Vigil for Las Vegas
October 3 @ 5:30 pm7:00 pm, Concord


Following the mass shooting in Las Vegas, the Interfaith Center at the Presidio joins with people across the nation in grieving the victims, offering our prayers, and rededicating ourselves to the task of building relationships of respect and peace among the fractured communities of our nation.

As a  Cooperating Circle of the United Religions Initiative, we share the vision expressed by URI Executive Director Rev. Victor Kazanjian, Jr.:

If we do not allow ourselves to feel this sadness, to really grieve, then our fears and pain turn instead to grievance. Who is to blame? How can I get my revenge? The world seems locked in an endless cycle of grievance. Grievance is the fuel of terrorists. One act of violence fuels another act of violence and the cycle continues, day after day, generation after generation.

But we who work for peace are dedicated to breaking this cycle. First we weep, for those whose lives are lost. We weep for their families and friends and communities who grieve. We weep and then we work. Our sadness leads not to paralysis, but to a deeper commitment to work for peace in our communities, in our countries and in our world.

We will post information about any vigils or events that we know of being planned in the Bay Area; if your group is planning an event, please send details to .img@.img.

The URI has resources to help groups planning interfaith ceremonies.



BAIC October 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: International Day of Peace Events | URI Global Leadership in SarajevoChapel Tours  |Around the BayNAINConnect 2017 Photos| The Interfaith Observer| Parliament 2018 | Notes & Quotes | Send Us Your News | Bay Area Interreligious Calendar | Special Opportunities | Subscribe to BAIC

Interfaith Center at the PresidioINTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE EVENTS

The Interfaith Center was host to two special events in the Presidio Chapel marking the United Nations International Day of Peace. The September 21st service honored the 20th anniversary of “Mines to Vines,” a project of Roots for Peace to convert former battlefields to productive farmland. Heidi Kuhn, Executive Director of Roots for Peace, was the keynote speaker.

She was joined by leaders from Baha’i, Brahma Kumari, Buddhist, Catholic, Greek Orthodox,  Jewish, Latter Day Saints, Muslim, and Unitarian communities. The full program is available here. The San Francisco Interfaith Council and United Religions Initiative co-sponsored the event.

International Day of Peace ParticipantsOn Sunday, September 24, Victoria Rodriguez, Darryl Taylor, and Deon Nielsen Price, accomplished musicians and performers, joined their talents to present “To the Children of War,” based on poetry by Maya Angelou, along with other music by Chopin, Debussy and Deon Price. Their aim was to offer soulful music for voice and piano that addresses society’s unrest and can bring peace to the listener.

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BAIC September 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: International Day of Peace | Responding to HateChapel Tours Around the Bay| Parliament 2018 | Notes & Quotes | Send Us Your News | Bay Area Interreligious Calendar | Special Opportunities | Subscribe to BAIC


September 21 again marks the International Day of Peace, declared by the United Nations and observed in many ways all around the world. This year’s theme is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.”

A celebration of International Peace Day will take place at the Presidio Chapel, honoring the Roots of Peace “Mines to Vines” project that works to remove landmines and restore the soil with bountiful vineyards & orchards in war-torn regions worldwide. Thursday, September 21, 2017 at 4:00 pm, Presidio Chapel, 130 Fisher Loop, Presidio, San Francisco. Sponsors include ICP, the San Francisco Interfaith Council, and United Religions Initiative.

Learn more about the International Day of Peace, see a map of observances planned, and the U.N. “Join Together” program at

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Love Lives in Marin

On Friday, August 25 over 350 people gathered at Congregation Kol Shofar in
Tiburon for “Love Lives in Marin”, an interfaith prayer service,
co-sponsored by the Marin Interfaith Council. The service included singing,
words of encouragement from local faith leaders, time for attendees to pair
up and offer mutual support, prayer and meditation. The evening concluded
with children lighting candles as participants sang and stood in solidarity
with each other.

The interfaith service was the first “Love Lives in Marin” event, which is
an initiative of the Marin Interfaith Council. It was inspired by a pastoral
visit by 40 rabbis from across the nation, including Rabbi Susan Leider of
Congregation Kol Shofar, to Whitefish, Montana, where a similar initiative
arose in response to anti-Semitic attacks aimed at the local Jewish
community. Businesses, civic leaders, and leaders from other faith
traditions rose up in solidarity with the Jewish community to oppose hate
and promote love and inclusion.

During Friday night’s service, Rabbi Leider said, “What is an attack on one
is an attack on all.” She explained the purpose of Love Lives in Marin is
to change the public discourse, create a community where all are welcome,
and “rise above the fray and speak for those whose voices aren’t uplifted.”

Other faith leaders who spoke or sang at the interfaith prayer services
included Rabbi Chai Levy, Congregation Kol Shofar; Ebrahim Nana, Islamic
Center of Mill Valley; Rev. Bethany Nelson and Rev. Rob McClellan,
Westminster Presbyterian Church; Rev. Scott Quinn, Marin Interfaith Council;
Rev. Yolanda Norton, Professor at San Francisco Theological Seminary; Rev.
Shokuchi Carrigan, Green Gulch Farm Zen Center; and Rev. Veronica Goines,
St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.

Each faith leader emphasized the evening’s central message that our faithful
response to hate is not only resistance but also to stand up for the values
promoted by all the world’s faith traditions: hope, inclusivity, equality,
compassion, justice and love.

Rev. Norton said, “Love is an active means of resistance.”

“Let love live not merely in the addresses we give, but also in the
addresses where we reside,” said Rev. McClellan.

Love Lives in Marin seeks to inspire more organic acts of compassion, hope,
interfaith connection, solidarity, and justice.

Interfaith Gathering Against Hate in San Francisco

In response to a planned “alt-right” demonstration in San Francisco (which subsequently was cancelled), an interfaith gathering at Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco drew a full house for a celebration of love, community, and diversity on August 25. An interfaith Sabbath service was followed by a dessert reception.

The event was sponsored by the San Francisco Interfaith Council, the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, and the San Francisco based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund.

See coverage from the Jewish News of Northern California

Vigil in Alameda following vandalism

Following vandalism at Temple Israel in Alameda, the wider community joined synagaogue members for a vigil of support on August 18.

One of the members, Amy Seefeldt, wrote:

I wanted to take a minute as a member of Temple Israel and of the Alameda Community to thank everyone who came and showed support at Friday night’s vigil. I can’t say enough about how proud I was of the way that our community and surrounding communities handled the vandalism incident at our synagogue. They approached it with love, respect and grace. People from all around the East Bay, no matter what religion or belief they identified with, gathered in front of our temple. Many of them even came into our synagogue afterwards to unite in prayer.
This year, Temple Israel has endured challenges and changes that have shaped us as a congregation. Whether some of those changes have been for better or worse, we are always resilient. Temple Israel is a small congregation of 100 members that year after year has endeavored to remain a center for Jewish life in Alameda. This isn’t easy on our little island where neighboring cities like Oakland and Berkeley have a greater concentration of Jewish people and significantly larger synagogues. But Temple Israel, which was founded in 1924, is rooted in Alamedan history. Today it serves a group of smart, dedicated, passionate and tenacious people that have put their hearts into sustaining our little synagogue, despite the financial struggles inherent to a small congregation. Our smallness, though, is also also a benefit, bringing a closer sense of community.
This attack came during a time of evolution for Temple Israel. We have been busy shaping our goals, defining our identity and finding our direction. We have been planning new programming for Alameda families, preparing for exciting building renovations and even getting ready for a new rabbi. Basically, we’re trying to better ourselves so that we can reach out more to our community. This past Friday night was both a curse and a blessing; the act of vandalism was tragic, but the subsequent love shown by our community was extraordinary. After attending Friday’s vigil, a friend of mine, Fred Fielding, who is Board President of the Interfaith Center at the Presidio said, “For every one person who wants to hurt people there are hundreds who want to heal.” This past Friday night was a beautiful display of this conviction. Temple Israel, the local Jewish community and Alameda all have the strength to heal.
Amy Seefeldt

Gathering for Peace and against Hate

Interfaith Gathering Against Hate

Friday, August 25, 2017
5:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Congregation Emanu-El
2 Lake Street
San Francisco

In collaboration with our partners at the San Francisco Interfaith Council, the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, and the San Francisco based Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, we are planning a response to the gathering in San Francisco on Saturday, August 26th at Crissy field. This is not a reaction, not a confrontation, but a response of love, community, and diversity. We invite all our members, along with the entire San Francisco Jewish and interfaith community, to join us for a very special interfaith peace and justice Shabbat service in the Emanu-El Main Sanctuary on Friday, August 25th.

We warmly invite all who wish to join us for this celebration of who we are:

Friday, August 25th, Congregation Emanu-El, 2 Lake Street

  • 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm hors d’oeuvres & refreshments
  • 6:30 pm – 7:45 pm Interfaith Sabbath Service followed by dessert reception

Interfaith Gathering for Peace

August 26, 2017
12:30 pm – 1:30 pm

Grace Cathedral and the Episcopal Diocese of California, in collaboration with the San Francisco Interfaith Council, are holding an interfaith gathering as a peaceful but pointed response to the Patriot Prayer rallies taking place in San Francisco and Berkeley this weekend.

There will be a service of readings and prayers that will begin at 12:30 pm with a welcome by our dean, Malcolm Clemens Young. The service will include three speakers who have worked for peace and justice: Rita Semel, the Rev. Amos Brown and the Rev. Vicki Gray. At the end of the service, the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, Bishop of California, will bless a group that will walk together from the cathedral to the “Peace, Music and Laughter” event at Civic Center, billed as a family-friendly arts festival headlined by singer Michael Franti.

While the service is taking place inside the cathedral, there will be craft activities and a labyrinth walk for peace for children and families outside on the cathedral plaza.

Our dean and other clergy will also be present for the Interfaith Gathering Against Hate at Congregation Emanu-El on Friday, August 25.


Berkeley CA  Demonstration to Say NO to the Nazis and Fascist Extremists the day before they arrive in Berkeley

Tikkun magazine, the Network of Spiritual Progressives and Beyt Tikkun Synagogue will hold an interfaith family-friendly gathering Saturday Aug. 26th at 3pm at the same location where Nazis and fascist extremists plan to gather on Sunday in Berkeley – Civic Center park (Martin Luther King Jr. Street and Center Street)

In a statement released by Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun, and Cat Zavis, executive director of the interfaith and secular-humanist-welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives said: “This will be an alternative to the potential violence on Sunday for people who want to publicly oppose the Nazis, do not want to be part of violent struggles that may develop on Sunday, and do want to affirm our vision for a nonviolent world of love, justice, and environmental sanity.”

Rabbi Lerner added: “The Nazis coming to Berkeley on Sunday are hoping to get public exposure and press. Their movement is strengthened when violence erupts between them and those opposing them. When standing in close proximity to people who are yelling verbal attacks and threatening you, it is extremely difficult for some to remain calm and nonviolent. Rather than risk the possibility of confrontation that will only bolster the Nazis cause and give the President an excuse to equate the Nazis with those who oppose them, we are providing a family-friendly space for people to nonviolently express their disgust and disapproval of the Nazis and white supremacists and to promote a vision of a loving and just world.”

Here is the full statement inviting participation in Saturday August 26th event which could provide a model for future ways to respond to the demonstrations by the ultra-Right-wing racists and anti-Semites.

The Network of Spiritual Progressives, Tikkun magazine and Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without-Walls invite interfaith and secular humanist individuals and organizations to join us this coming Saturday, August 26 at 3:00pm to create sacred space at the location where Neo-Nazis plan to rally the following day. Our goal is to provide a safe space for those who are concerned about the violence that may happen the next day when the right-wing extremists are scheduled to rally in that same location, do not want to be part of that scene, and do want to affirm our solidarity with those who will be nonviolently protesting the Nazis and other variants of fascism the next day. We will sanctify the location with our prayers and expressions of solidarity with all those who want a world of love and justice for all.

When: Saturday, August 26th from 3:00 p.m. till about 4:30 p.m.

Where: Civic Center Park in Berkeley (near Center Street crossing Martin Luther King. Jr.)

We will lead with some traditional Jewish prayers (in English and Hebrew) and invite other religious/spiritual communities and atheists and secular-humanists to bring prayers, songs, music, poetry, and anything else of beauty reflecting our values of love, justice, environmental sustainability, nonviolence and awe, wonder, and radical amazement at the grandeur and mystery of the universe. Please bring your own contributions to the program which will also include some reflections on long-range strategy for strengthening the progressive and love-and-justice-oriented forces in the U.S. This event will hopefully be a model for other events around the U.S. in the coming months as right-wing-extremists bring their message of hate to a wide variety of communities.

This gathering is not meant in any way to detract from the importance of those who will be assembling or demonstrating the next day for precisely what we seek also–a world without racism, anti-Semitism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and religiophobia.

Check our Facebook Event for updates

Responding to Charlottesville

 Many local Interfaith Councils around the Bay have responded to the recent events in Charlottesville. See statements below from the Interfaith Council of Alameda County, Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County, Islamic Networks Group, Marin Interfaith Council, San Francisco Interfaith Council, Silicon Valley Interreligious Council, and the United Religions Initiative.

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BAIC August 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: International VIsitors | Chapel Tours  | Yezidi GalaNAINConnect 2017 | Around the Bay| URI Internships | Parliament 2018 | The Interfaith Observer | Notes & Quotes | Send Us Your News | Bay Area Interreligious Calendar | Special Opportunities | Subscribe to BAIC

Interfaith Center at the PresidioBoth because of the beauty of the Presidio Chapel and the uniqueness of the interfaith work that the Center enables, the Interfaith Center at the Presidio is often host to visiting delegations from around the world.That was the case recently when 13 emerging national leaders from 10 African nations were invited to participate in a United States Department of State International Leadership Program to learn about Diversity, Multiculturalism, and Interfaith Dialogue.

Among those who visited ICP on July 26 were representatives from Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Mauritania, and a newswoman from France. They were met by Rita Semel of the ICP Board, and Michael Pappas of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, whose office is in the Presidio Chapel.

The International Leadership Program is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program. Participants are nominated by the staff at U.S. Embassies around the world, and typically visit four U.S. communities over three weeks, meeting with local organizations related to their area of interest.

Delegation from Africa with Rita Semel and Michael Pappas

Rita Semel and Michael Pappas with African delegates.

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