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!  On August 13th, Elected Council member Ben Jones will be leading a Singing Bowls Meditation from 7:45 to 8:15 am before the meeting on the same zoom meeting. 

Please Register for the zoom meeting at to get the Zoom information.  

ICARE (Interfaith Community Action Revitalization)

ICARE is a new program of the Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County (I4C) that creates opportunities for people of diverse religions, spiritual expressions and indigenous traditions to work together to improve the lives of people in our county who are in need. By linking volunteers with needed projects across the county, we work together on projects that provide resources such as food, shelter, supplies and other forms of support for people who need help in our community.  We do this by partnering with selected, local nonprofit organizations.  Go here for the full description:

Or go to the SignUpGenius page to see what is possible.  

Trinity Center and St. Paul’s Commons are ICARE partners where Interfaith Service Teams are able to serve and help provide the needs of our friends who are living without shelter, or staying in St. Paul’s Commons. There is a need for Breakfast Packs now, even during COVID-19. Please consider if you, a team from your congregation or friends can join an ICARE team to help provide these meals safely.

We recently ran a pilot project creating hygiene kits for people living without shelter in our county.  












We included WeCare messages like these in the kits we sent, to share some encouragement to those receiving them.  













New address and phone number!

Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County
404 Gregory Lane
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523

Charlotte Ginn, Office Manager
925.822.3744 office

Rev. Will McGarvey, the Executive Director can be contacted at:
925.933.6030 mobile


ICHANGE Program (Interfaith Chaplaincy Affirming a New Generation of Excellence).  

This is the committee that helps Rev. Julius Van Hook plan mentorships and service to the young people in Juvenile Hall, and those who have graduated that system.

Third Tuesdays (October 20th) at 5 pm.

Topic: ICHANGE Meeting
Time: Sep 15, 2020 05:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Every month on the Third Tue, until Feb 16, 2021, 6 occurrence(s)

You are invited to a Zoom meeting.
When: October 20th, 2020 05:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

This committee works to help Rev. Julius Van Hook with mentors and trained volunteers who can help support the young people as they leave Juvenile Hall and return to make a life for themselves.   


Our Reach

108 Congregations
51 Years Serving Juvenile Det. Center
60 Yearly Singing Messengers Events

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.

IMG_5608_TomWebb_RevDeb_RevWillThe Social Justice Alliance advocates partnership to focus on issues of racism, welfare reform, health care, homelessness, hunger, discrimination, immigration (MICA) and other areas of need.

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

Franklin Burroughs and Jo Kerner currently co-chair the committee.  

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.  This committee has been on hiatus for a little while.  Contact retired Rabbi Raphael Asher, who convenes these conversations, for more information.

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 on an as needed basis.  If you have program ideas, please share them with our Executive Director, Rev. Will McGarvey

20140209-ICCCC-1054The 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.

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.

ICAN Contra Costa is a regional organizing group of California Interfaith Power and Light, and we partner with many other Environmental Justice groups, such as

  • Green Faith
  • Communities for a Better Environment
  • Sunflower Alliance 
  • No Coal in Richmond and Oakland

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.

Questions? Call Jan at 925-818-6530 email

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

Ongoing 90-minute Programs we Offer our Congregations and Partners

Introducing the Courageous Conversations Program!

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  For more information and to see upcoming dates, visit


We are still sharing our 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  For more information and to see local and regional opportunities to experience this hands on training, visit

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


Winter Nights Family Shelter Becomes an Independent nonprofit entity!

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. (

“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.

In the fall of 2018 we are introducing the #CaringContraCosta Campaign!

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?
It doesn’t matter what you choose to do, as much as that you put your plan into action.  Then, you can encourage others to do so as well – like a friendly “coopetition” where we cooperate in a competition in doing acts of loving kindness and considerate service.
As you share your project, feel free to put the #CaringContraCosta hashtag or image on your flier or social media about your project!
If you want a sticker, come to our International Day of Peace program on Friday, September 21st at 6:30 pm at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian in Pleasant Hill (see below).  Or send us a donation online or by mail and we will send you a sticker and a bookmark.  
Each month, we will share a list of challenges to our membership to live into this message, and we will encourage each other with reports back from local religious and cultural leaders who make a difference in CCC!  Here are some of the themes we will use for our first year, but you can host an Interfaith Program, like our Everyday Peacemaking or Defusing Hatred programs, or create a diverse panel of religious leaders to discuss a topic of your choosing.

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

We can’t wait to see your reflections and actions using our hashtag #CaringContraCosta!  You can also share by emailing your reflections and events to and post them on our Community Calendar (there’s a Submit Your Event link at the bottom of our website!). 
If you haven’t yet, you could invite us to schedule the Defusing Hatred Program.  If you have hosted that already, please consider scheduling the Everyday Peacemaking Program.  Other programs will be offered in upcoming months.
What event or project will you create?  Let’s make our neighborhoods more loving, caring and concerned for others!  More information will be coming soon!  See the #CaringContraCosta Page for updates!

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

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 or

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

“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 or 925.934.1794 or PO Box 21, Walnut Creek, California 94597.  Http://  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.

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:

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:

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.  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  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