Programs of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County:
You are invited to dialogue with us each month at the Elected Council Meeting! Right now we meet on Zoom during the Shelter-At-Home orders. Normally, we meet the Second Thursday of each month (except July) at 8:00 am in the Fellowship Hall at Hillcrest Congregational Church UCC. Breakfast begins at 8:00 and our dialogues begin right at 8:30 am. All are invited! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the zoom meeting information.
New address and phone number!
Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County
404 Gregory Lane
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
Charlotte Ginn, Office Manager
Rev. Will McGarvey, the Executive Director can be contacted at:
We’d like to introduce the community to our new Interfaith Juvenile Chaplain, Rev. Julius Van Hook, now serving at the Martinez Juvenile Detention Center and the Orin Allen Boy’s Ranch in Byron. Rev. Van Hook previously served as Supervising Chaplain at the Alameda County Probation Department. Rev. Julius is ordained by the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), California Northwest Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, at Genesis Worship Center, Oakland, CA where Rev. George Matthews is Pastor.
Rev. Julius started with the new year of 2019 and has been a tremendous asset. He is available to speak at area congregations and groups about his ministry. 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.
SOJA also oversees the Interfaith Climate Action Network, chaired by Jan Warren.
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.
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. This committee has been on hiatus for a little while. Contact retired Rabbi Raphael Asher, who convenes these conversations, for more information.
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 on an as needed basis. If you have program ideas, please share them with our Executive Director, Rev. Will McGarvey
The Singing Messengers, under the direction of Ms. Marjorie Musante and a team of leaders, 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 throughout three seasons each year. Please contact Marjorie for more information, to join, or to schedule a presentation.
We have a number of congregations in Danville and San Ramon who are leading the way for these events.
ICAN meets online on the Third Thursdays of the month from 1:00 to 2:30 pm. To register for the zoom meetings, follow this link. https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMlc-CurjwoGtNR5PcZIGQWcLWx2O-zs6Gb
Questions? Call Jan at 925-818-6530 email email@example.com
SOJA oversees the Interfaith Climate Action Network, chaired by Jan Warren.
Ongoing 90-minute Programs we Offer our Congregations and Partners
Also a follow up on The Defusing Hatred Program, the Courageous Conversations Program explores Compassionate Listening in a supportive environment, teaching:
- A way to hear more deeply
- Necessity to set ground rules
- Not about changing minds
- Ability to really hear others and to be heard by others
Introducing the Everyday Peacemaking Program!
Following up on The Defusing Hatred Program, the Everyday Peacemaking Program explores practical ideas for staying in conversation with others, conflict management, and how our spiritual practices help us stay calm in tense situations. Then we break into small groups to create a response to a particular, potential situation.
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. For more information, contact Rev. Will McGarvey at 925.597.9797 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information and to see upcoming dates, visit https://www.interfaithccc.org/introducing-the-everyday-peacemaking-program/
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 email@example.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.
The Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County (ICCCC) and Winter Nights Family Shelter, Inc. (Winter Nights) are proud to announce that the success and growth of Winter Nights now warrants a new relationship between entities. Leaders of the two groups mutually decided that this would best enable the Winter Nights’ organization to meet the growing needs of the community. Welcome “Winter Nights Family Shelter, Inc.,” an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. (www.cccwinternights.org)
“Winter Nights has proven to be a very successful program meeting an essential need in Contra Costa County. We’ve been very happy to serve as a launchpad since its inception 16 years ago,” said Rev. Will McGarvey, ICCCC’s Executive Director. “As the program has matured, it became obvious that future growth would best be served by spinning off the program so that it can grow its own infrastructure.”
“We’ll always be grateful for the support of the Interfaith Council throughout our startup years. We’re very much looking forward to continued close collaboration as we have evolved from an ICCCC program to a partner and as we pursue our missions in parallel. We always have been and will continue to be family,” said Judith Stillman, Executive Director of Winter Nights. “We will continue with our operations and policies as before and are excited about our future expansion plans.”
To see more about the Winter Nights Family Shelter, please visit this link!
To give to the Winter Nights Family Shelter follow this link!
Winter Nights Family Shelter Facebook Page!
Winter Nights Family Shelter YouTube Video!
Contact Judy Stillman, WNFS Executive Director.
What can you and your congregation or small group do to make Contra Costa County a more caring, kind and compassionate place to live?
- Could you host an Interfaith program of some sort?
- Would you like to create a service project that encourages others to “pay it forward?”
- Is it possible for you and your friends to plan some “random acts of kindness” that make a difference in your part of the county?
- What creative project could you organize with a small group of others to tackle something that’s been ignored for some time?
January– Poor People’s Campaign July– Religious Freedom
February– Black History Month August– World’s Indigenous Ppls
March– Women’s History Month September– Intl. Day of Peace
April– Earth Day and Creation October– Rights of the Hungry
May– Workers, Living Wages November– Homeless Awareness
June– World Refugee Day December– Criminal Justice Month
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org). 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.
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