About the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County:

ICCCC is a non-profit, 501 c (3) organization solely governed by its Elected Council and Governing Board. 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, Interfaith Understanding Programs, the Interfaith Climate Action Program and our new Youth and Young Adult Leadership Initiative.  To see our recent ICCCC Announcements, go here.  For  ICCCC Statements, go here.

There are 109 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.  We are also a Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative, whose global headquarters are in San Francisco.

The Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County (I4C) is an autonomous local organization solely governed by its own Executive Committee, elected by the membership at the Council’s annual meeting. The Elected Council meets monthly except July and the Governing Board meets monthly except August.

The Elected Council

* Terence Clark  (Lafayette Orinda Presbyterian Church)
* Carolyn MacKenzie  (Hillcrest Congregational United Church of Christ)
* Loel Bartlett Miller  (Sufism Reoriented, WC)
* Ken Sargent  (Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church)

Maram Bata  (San Ramon Valley Islamic Community, SRVIC)
Nancy Battey (First Church of Christ, Scientist, Pleasant Hill)
* Rev. Tom Bonacci  (Interfaith Peace Project)
Evelyn Candland  (Church of Jesus Christ, Latter-Day Saints, Oakland Stake)
* Stuart Candland  (Church of Jesus Christ, Latter-Day Saints, Oakland Stake)
Herb Casey (St. John Vianney Catholic Church, Walnut Creek)
Mohamed Chaudhry   (Islamic Center of the East Bay)
Mary Lee Dodd   (Rossmoor St. Luke’s Episcopal Church)
Judith Hall  (UMC Walnut Creek, Church Women United)
Ben Jones  (Baha’i Community of Walnut Creek)
Satya Kalra  (Path to Anandam, Danville)
Rev. Caroline Knowles  (Unitarian Universalist Church Berkeley, Chaplaincy Team)
* Dr. Ejaz Naqvi  (Islamic Center of Zahra)
Siamack Sioshansi  (The Urban Farmers, Zoroastrian Community)
* Judith Stillman  (SoJA and Winter Nights, Lafayette UMC)
Hazzan Risa Wallach  (Congregation B’nai Shalom, Walnut Creek)
Trinka Wasik  (First Church of Christ Scientist, Danville)
Harry Wittenberg  (Congregation B’nai Tikvah, Walnut Creek)

* Member of the Governing Board

You are invited to dialogue with us each month!  We meet the first Thursday of each month (except July) at 8:00 am in the Wesley Room in the Education Wing of the Walnut Creek United Methodist Church (up the hill in the back).  Breakfast begins at 8:00 and our dialogues begin right at 8:30 am.  All are invited!

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 Donate page.

Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County
1543 Sunnyvale Ave.
Walnut Creek, CA 94597
925.933.6030 office

Rev. Will McGarvey, the Executive Director can be contacted at:
925.597.9797 mobile

In 2017 we are sharing our new Defusing Hatred Program in our congregations and community centers.

Learn nonviolent communication skills in a safe environment and develop tools for responding to uneasy situations and interrupting harassment and hate speech.  Enjoy an informative, visual presentation followed by conversation and hands on experience through role-play.

Available at your congregation or small group by signing up a team from the Interfaith Council. Contact Rev. Will McGarvey below!

We host this program with the hope of building communities of care and protection of the vulnerable around us, especially in this time of heightened tension and public acts of aggression.

We will share institutional and personal forms of interruption of cultural oppression. And then we will do some role-playing of different situations to discuss how best to be present for others. We will do a quick survey of history of hate crimes in CCC and then review the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

This gathering is offered to congregations and members of the Interfaith Council. For more information, contact Rev. Will McGarvey at 925.597.9797 or eye4cee@gmail.com.  For more information and to see local and regional opportunities to experience this hands on training, visit https://www.interfaithccc.org/the-defusing-hatred-program/

Become a Member today!  

Membership is open to congregations and institutions as well as individuals!
Individual memberships will be received beginning March 1, 2017.

Become an Individual Member     Become a Congregational Member


Our Reach

108 Congregations
51 Years Serving Juvenile Det. Center
60 Yearly Singing Messengers Events
100’s Winter Nights Families Served

Our Valuable Staff Members

Rev. Will McGarvey
Rev. Will McGarveyExec. Director
Will has served as our part-time E.D. since Sept. 2012, overseeing all of our many programs, ministries and connecting our regional Interfaith Council’s work with the whole. A natural networker, Will helps bring people together around dialogue, understanding and action.
Rev. Dr. Charles Tinsley
Rev. Dr. Charles TinsleyChaplain, Juvenile Detention Facility
For the last 22 years, Dr. Tinsley has served the young people of our county in need of restoration. Serving those at the Juvenile Detention Facility in Martinez or the Orrin Allen Boys Ranch in Byron.
Jessica Natal
Jessica NatalOffice Manager
Jessica serves as Office Manager for both the Council and the Winter Nights programs. Her office hours are M, W, F from 1:30 to 4:00 pm. If you have submissions for the Ministering Together Newsletter or need to contact the Singing Messengers, you can call or email all week long.
Judy Stillman & Bill Shaw
Judy Stillman & Bill ShawWinter Nights E.D & Program Manager
Judy and Bill oversee our amazing seasonal rotating shelter for families with children. You can see more about the whole program at the link above. Judy leads our Homeless Summit on the first Monday of each month at 2:00 pm. Bill oversees our great staff and intakes of clients. Thanks Judy and Bill.

Our Programs –

We have many ongoing ICCCC events each month that are highlighted at our Events Page.  Please go there to see our latest events.
What would you like to see?  Contact Rev. Will McGarvey, our Executive Director.

Ministry in the trenches cover photoRev. Dr. Charles Tinsley has served as chaplain of  The Juvenile Detention Chaplaincy for the last 22 years.  He has been recognized for his innovative approach to helping young people make it into college and away from the problems that used to plague them both locally and nationally.

He ministers to  young people in the facilities in Martinez and Byron.  He oversee volunteers and religious visitors to the young people there.  Please contact him to volunteer.

If  you want to read Dr. Tinsley’s eBook on his ministry,  please follow this link!

IMG_5608_TomWebb_RevDeb_RevWillThe Social Justice Alliance advocates partnership to focus on issues of racism, welfare reform, health care, homelessness, hunger, discrimination, immigration and the monthly vigils at the West County Detention Facility (MICA) and other areas of need.

SOJA also oversees the Interfaith Climate Action Network, chaired by Jan Warren.

Gwen Watson and Dolores Loague co-chair the committee.  The Homeless Summit of SoJA operates the Winter Nights Shelter.

We partner with the Multi-Faith ACTION Network on issues regarding poverty, such as housing, food security, jobs and wages, education, health and racial reconciliation.

Together Health and Faith in Action connects with county agencies to promote  immunization of impoverished children, with the Interfaith Volunteer  Caregivers Program to help elders stay in their homes, and with the local  chapter of the Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI).  We also continue to advocate for professional chaplaincies at county hospitals. Retired Rabbi Raphael Asher convenes these conversations.

An-American-Mosque-dvd-final Program & Education offers opportunities to explore issues critical to our work and the world and connect us with groups such as the Interfaith Center  at the Presidio, the United Religions Initiative, the FAITHS Initiative  and the Northern California Inter-religious Conference.

This group meets the Monday before our monthly Elected Council meetings (the first Thursday of the month at 8:00 am in the Social Hall of Walnut Creek United Methodist Church 1543 Sunnyvale, Ave.).

Judith Hall helps lead this committee.

20140209-ICCCC-1054The Singing Messengers, under the direction of Ms. Jackie Wan, sends musical teams into nursing homes across the county, with three separate programs each year.

There are now three teams that share their special programs all over the county.

Making pizza

Youth & Young Adults will discover venues in which to bring young people together from a variety of traditions in order to build bridges and strengthen faith and self-esteem.  If you are a High Schooler or Youth Leader that wants to get involved in this ministry, please contact Rev. Will McGarvey soon.

We have a number of congregations in Danville and San Ramon who are leading the way for these events.

This year’s focus is Becoming Better Stewards of the Earth Advocacy Training Workshop – pre-registration lunch http://tinyurl.com/gvu23ra

Saturday, April 1st.  See the event at https://www.interfaithccc.org/event/becoming-better-stewards-of-the-earth-advocacy-training-workshop/

Opening Invocation: Rev. Will McGarvey

Overview: Rev. Will McGarvey

Rev. Will Scott, California Interfaith Power and Light, California Legislative actions for 2017

Andrés Soto, Communities for a Better Environment, BAAQMD, Cap on Refinery Emissions – Health Impacts

Coffee, Meet and Mingle – Information from advocacy groups at tables

Light Lunch – Continue to share experiences and ideas

350 Bay Area Workshop 1 – Options to Reduce Emissions from Transportation

Cynthea Mahoney, MD Workshop 2 Health Effects of Fossil Fuel Pollution

Advocacy Panel Discussion and Questions

Rev Will McGarvey, Rev Will Scott, Andres Soto, Jack Lucero and Cynthia Mahoney, MD

Closing – Follow up and Mentoring End

Questions? Call Jan at 925-818-6530 email icancontracostacounty@gmail.com

SOJA oversees the Interfaith Climate Action Network, chaired by Jan Warren.

Speakers Bureau –

ICCCC enjoys many among our number who regularly share presentations across the western United States.  If you are looking for those of other faith traditions, please contact Rev. Will McGarvey, our Executive Director.

Rev. Will McGarvey, Executive Director of the Interfaith Council
Will continues to share in many faith communities the work of the Council, our Social Justice Alliance (including the Winter Nights Shelter), and the expanding advocacy work of the Multi-Faith ACTION Coalition.  Will keeps up with the pulse of the needs of the county and helps network those who seek to address those needs.  Will has expertise in many fields, including environmental theology, Interfaith prayer, dialogue, education and peacemaking.  After the many Love Your Muslim Neighbors programs we hosted in 2016, Will’s latest program is called Defusing Hatred which teaches skills of Non-Violent Communication and offers role playing for those who wish to be prepared to creatively interrupt harassment in public places.

Father Tom Bonacci, Executive Director of the Interfaith Peace Project and a member of the Elected Council

Thomas P. Bonacci C.P. is the Interfaith Peace Project’s Executive Director. Tom offers friendly and hospitable programs to help participants cope with inherited stereotypes, innocent misunderstandings, embarrassing questions or general knowledge of the many faith traditions of humankind. Tom was ordained in 1972 for the Passionist Religious Order of the Roman Catholic Church, and is recognized for his scriptural scholarship.

One of Tom’s dreams is The Intrafaith Project , involving conversations, projects and experiments exploring the reality and possibility for the practice and study of interfaith spirituality.

“A man of vision, Tom’s programs are less about learning of differences and similarities in religions, and more about understanding, respecting and connecting to all humankind.” — George D’Angelo, Ph.D., Founder, UN International Day of Peace Vigil.

Contact Fr. Tom at (925) 325-0144 or info@interfaithpeaceproject.org

Interfaith Center & Library  4740 Matterhorn Way Antioch, Ca 94531  open Wednesdays 11-2 pm Open anytime by appointment.

Prabha Duneja, founder and president of the Geeta Society, is also an active member of the Tri-Valley Interfaith Council, Women’s Federation for World Peace, and the United Nations Association USA. She is also the chairwoman of the Women’s Interfaith Circle of Service/CC-URI. Mrs. Duneja is a recipient of the Global Citizen award, given by UNA-USA East Bay, for her tireless efforts on behalf of schools and orphanages in India and Mozambique. She travels extensively and is a frequent speaker at the Commonwealth Club San Francisco, the Parliament of World’s Religions, schools, universities, temples, churches, mosques, yoga retreats, and religious conferences.

Mrs. Duneja, a graduate from the Sanskrit University of Kurukshetra, is a well-known Vedic scholar and a devotee of Lord Krishna. She is the author of numerous books and has also recorded several series of lectures on religion, philosophy, the Bhagawad Geeta, the Secret Powers of mantra, the mysteries of mind and body, and the science of yoga & meditation. Her monumental work The Legacy of Yoga in Bhagawad Geeta has created a powerful impact in the Western literary world.

She provides religious and spiritual services to the community, and also gives workshops on the science of yoga and mediation across the nation.

She can be contacted at duneja@aol.com or http://holygeeta.com

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 Amazon.com

“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 islamicoutreach@hotmail.com or 925.934.1794 or PO Box 21, Walnut Creek, California 94597.  Http://www.amazon.com/Understanding-Islam-Amer-Salih-Araim/dp/0974554073  Copies of his book are available through the Interfaith Council office with proceeds going to the Council.  Contact Jessica Natal at 925-933-6030 for more information.

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. http://toginet.com/shows/franktalkwithdrejaz

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:  http://toginet.com/shows/franktalkwithdrejaz

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”).

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

To ask Dr. Ejaz to come speak at your congregation or circle, please email him 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: www.ejaznaqvi.com

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.  http://www.drkworks.com.  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 eye4cee@aol.com).  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.

Copies of his book are available through the Interfaith Council office with proceeds going to the Council.  Contact Jessica Natal at 925-933-6030 for more information.

Interfaith Curriculums:

In recent years, the Scarboro Missions Interfaith Department in Toronto, Canada has committed itself to building a website featuring curriculum and useful educational resources for interfaith work.  These resources include online courses, toolkits, best practices, do-it-yourself workshops, activities, multifaith prayer services, guidelines, games, meditations, Powerpoint, etc.

To view or download these resources free of charge, check these links:

1)     To get access to our entire Interfaith Dialogue section


2)  To access our entire Golden Rule section


3)  Interfaith Curriculum & Do-it-yourself Workshop Outlines


4)  Principles & Guidelines for Interfaith Dialogue


5)    Do-it-yourself workshop in Multi-faith Sensitivity Training


6)   Guidelines for Designing Multifaith Prayer Services


7)   Interfaith Curriculum for Peacemaking


8)  Interfaith Curriculum for Schools and Youth groups


9)  A Six-session Workshop Outline in Jewish-Christian Dialogue


10) Do-it-yourself Golden Rule Workshop Outline


11)  Golden Rule Curriculum for Schools and Youth Groups


12)      Golden Rule Meditation Exercises


13)     Interactive Golden Rule Flash Presentation


14)   Green Rule Poster (featuring ecological texts in 14 religions)


15)     To view or order the Golden Rule Poster