Each month on the second Thursday, the SFIC hosts a free public interfaith breakfast at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in San Francisco where 100 congregational and lay leaders network and share a meal. Speakers from a variety of City departments, civic agencies, NGOs and philanthropic programs discuss their important work, ask faith communities to help spread the word, and offer volunteer opportunities for congregants. An individual gives a “meditation” from his or her religious tradition, and another presents a personal “faith journey.”
For a consolidated list of presenters please visit: Monthly Breakfast Summary
The Navigation Center
The SFIC facilitated a gift of $3 million to set up and operate the new Navigation Center at 1950 Mission Street, a pioneering approach to combating homelessness. The Center is unique among homeless shelters in the City in allowing homeless adults to maintain existing relationships. The Center accommodates couples, friends, even entire homeless encampments at once, permitting people to stay with their community, keep their pets, and bring along their belongings. This approach recognizes the important role that social and emotional connections play in recovery.
The Navigation Center provides comprehensive services. It provides beds, showers and meals at one location where staff are on hand 24/7 to assess the clients’ needs for health care, substance abuse and mental health treatment; help them access benefits; and move them expeditiously into stable housing and rehabilitation programs, or reunite them with their families through the successful Homeward Bound program. One million is set aside for leasing Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units, where clients will move from the Navigation Center and continue to receive support services. The Navigation Center shelters up to 75 clients who stay three to ten days before moving to housing or residential treatment.
Many agencies contribute to the Center's operation. Episcopal Community Services is the lead on-site service provider, assisted by the newly formed Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, Department of Public Health, Project Homeless Connect and others. The Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing takes the lead on SRO master leasing. Other key partners are the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development, the Planning Department, the Department of Building Inspection, the Department of Animal Care and Control, Recreation and Parks Department, and Adult Probation.
The Navigation Center is a pilot program designed to operate for 18 months or less. The City plans to develop affordable housing on the site, supporting Mayor Lee’s goal of building or rehabilitating 30,000 homes over six years, with half for low and middle-income San Francisco residents.
In addition to the SFIC’s fiduciary reporting responsibility to the donor and its coordinated effort to enlist congregations to prepare and serve “Sunday Suppers” at the facility, the Mayor’s Office continues to engage the SFIC in an advisory capacity as well as a resource to help identify sites for additional future Navigation Centers.
San Francisco Interfaith Winter Shelter
For 28 years, the SFIC has sponsored and coordinated an Interfaith Winter Shelter for the homeless. This shelter provides a hot, nutritious dinner, breakfast and a safe, warm overnight rest for some 100 homeless men every night from the Sunday before Thanksgiving through the end of February. The SFIC coordinates four host-site congregations, 40 meal-providing congregations, shelter staff from Episcopal Community Services and the San Francisco Night Ministry, with input from the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing.
Last year, the shelter was extended into April due to the El Nino storms and the need to shelter homeless residents displaced from encampments on Division Street. The City has recently asked the SFIC to continue this year’s shelter through the end of March 2017. PDF Info Sheet: What is the Interfaith Winter Shelter
For additional information about the shelter please visit: Interfaith Winter Shelter
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Observance and Interfaith Service
For six years the SFIC has organized the City’s annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day observance, including a popular march and interfaith service. The march proceeds from the CalTrain terminal over the Lefty O’Doul Bridge to Yerba Buena Gardens (YBG), bringing together “freedom riders” from the South Bay and others from the wider Bay Area. This march pays tribute to the 1965 crossing made by Dr. King over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. Once at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial at YBG, a large crowd participates in the outdoor interfaith service organized by the SFIC to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy. Key religious and civic leaders address the crowd. (Program)
With a mini-grant from the FAITHS Program of The San Francisco Foundation, the SFIC and the University of San Francisco convened a half-day symposium to complement the 2016 MLK Day Observance. At the symposium, scholars, activists and faith leaders examined the role of faith communities in the Civil Rights Movement and explored ways for faith communities to re-engage with current issues of racial injustice. (Program) Videos of this event are available for viewing at Video and Audio Archives.
Implicit Bias for Congregation Leaders
In early November congregation leaders attended a highly interactive course exploring emerging research in neuroscience, leadership and decision-making. Brain imaging studies were used to explain how we lead in faith communities and build relationships across boundaries. The course pinpointed the areas where behaviors, attitudes, and practices can be affected by unconscious processes and subtleties. The course reviewed how unconscious decision-making can affect assessments of character, morality, warmth, authenticity, intelligence, threat, and competence. Participants learned how empathizing with those from other communities, collaborating with congregants, and implementing new practices can all be helped or hurt by conditioned dispositions. The course identified ways to increase fairness guided by science.
Biennial Disaster Preparedness Workshop for Congregations
Last May at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, the SFIC hosted the 6th Biennial Disaster Preparedness Workshop for Congregations entitled "Crisis to Resilience: Congregations Understanding and Responding to Climate Change Impacts." Our partners in this important event were the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter, Archdiocese of San Francisco, California Interfaith Power & Light, Neighborhood Empowerment Network, SF CARD (Community Agencies Responding to Disaster), SF Department of Emergency Management, SF Department of Public Health, SF Human Services Agency, The Salvation Army, and The San Francisco Foundation.
San Francisco is one of a hundred "Resilient Cities" around the nation. As a key stakeholder and partner in disaster preparedness, response and recovery, the SFIC works with San Francisco's Chief Resiliency Officer, Patrick Otellini, and other stakeholders to develop a resiliency plan for San Francisco. The SFIC also works on a pilot project with the City encouraging Mission District congregations to operate as emergency shelters during disasters. (Program)
WinterFaith Shelter Walk
Each year the SFIC hosts a "walk against hunger" around Lake Merced. Proceeds from the walk are used to defray the cost of operating the Interfaith Winter Shelter. This year’s Walk was scheduled for October 30 but was cancelled due to inclement weather and safety concerns for our walkers. Nonetheless, sponsorships and pledges raised over $18,000 for the shelter. The inclement weather was a powerful reminder of conditions faced by the homeless on our streets, and our duty to shelter and feed them. Click here for the 2016 Walk Supporters. For additional information please visit: WinterFaith Shelter Walk
Annual "Bike to Worship" Week
The SFIC partners with the SF Bicycle Coalition to promote "Bike to Worship," an opportunity that encourages congregants to pedal to their worship services. Employing its large communications network, the SFIC helps to spread the word, share the free "BIKE TO WORSHIP Toolkit," and enlist registrants. This year the SF Bicycle Coalition and Walk San Francisco (an organization whose focus is pedestrian safety) joined forces for "Walk & Bike to Worship" Week from May 21 - May 29, 2016. It was an enormous success with 25 congregations participating and included the "2nd Annual Interfaith Ride!" You may view photos here and read an account of the ride here. For additional information about "Walk & Bike to Worship" Week please visit: Bike to Worship 2016
Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Prayer Breakfast
Our major event of the year is the SFIC Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Prayer Breakfast, attended by 400 people on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Each year we shine the spotlight on a significant contribution made by the faith community to San Francisco. At the 18th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Prayer Breakfast on November 24, 2015, our theme was "Faith and Sanctuary: There Are No Strangers." We honored congregations who helped San Francisco become a Sanctuary City, recognized those who continue the tradition, and highlighted young people for whom the City's commitment has provided hope and safety. (Program Book) Featured at the Prayer Breakfast was a brief documentary entitled "Sanctuary Movement: A Short History," produced by documentary filmmaker, Theo Rigby. The SFIC now serves as fiscal sponsor for Mr. Rigby's full-length documentary.
At the 19th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Prayer Breakfast on November 22, 2016 our theme was “The Soul of the City: Faith and Social Justice in San Francisco.” We honored Kat Taylor and Tom Steyer for their faith-based leadership in social justice and San Francisco congregations for their tireless work in realizing a more just society. (Program Book)
Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Day Service
Each year, the SFIC sponsors San Francisco's only Interfaith Thanksgiving Day Service which brings together people of diverse faiths for prayer and thanksgiving. The 12th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Day Service on Thursday, November 24, 2016 was hosted by the San Francisco Swedenborgian Church. The offering collected at this service is used to offset the costs of the Interfaith Winter Shelter. (Program)
Annual Interfaith World AIDS Day Service
For the past several years, the SFIC has collaborated with St. Mark's Lutheran Church in co-hosting the City's only Interfaith World AIDS Day Service.
This year's service, "Where Our Hope Is," was held on Sunday, December 4, 2016 at Congregation Sha'ar Zahav and was organized by Calvary Presbyterian Church, Old First Presbyterian Church, St. Mark's Lutheran Church and the SFIC. (Program)
Annual Interfaith Memorial for the Homeless Dead
Every December, collaborating with the SF Night Ministry, the SFIC hosts the "Interfaith Memorial for the Homeless Dead" at the Civic Center. Religious leaders of different faiths offer prayers for the homeless who have died during the past year, and their names are read. This year's memorial service was held on Wednesday evening, December 21, 2016 at the Civic Center Plaza. (Program)
Annual Interfaith Calendar
Interfaith harmony begins with mutual understanding and respect among faiths. Each year the SFIC produces and distributes widely a calendar of religious holidays of the major world religions. The resource has helped sensitize the San Francisco Unified School District, the schools of the SF Archdiocese, various agencies of City government and the Consular Corps to important religious observances and helped avoid scheduling conflicts.
Convener of Faith-Based Social Service Agencies ("CEO Roundtable")
In the midst of crisis emerges unique opportunity. Proof positive of this axiom is the coming together, sustained relationships, growth and recognition of the “Faith-Based Social Service Agencies CEO Roundtable.” For the past seven years, the San Francisco Interfaith Council has regularly convened the leaders of the 12 major faith-based agencies, providing a forum for exchanging ideas and for addressing issues directly affecting agency clients. Seven years ago, San Francisco was in a very different economic place. Deep cuts in the City’s budget forced these agencies to cut staff and programs, and the CEO Roundtable convened for the first time to coordinate an effective response to the City. When the tech boom created prosperity for the City, these agency budgets were never fully restored. Again, the CEO Roundtable was able to speak, with a unified voice, reminding the City of the vital role the agencies play in protecting the City's most vulnerable residents. This coalition also alerted the City to the effect of the boom’s "affordability crisis" not only on clients but also on nonprofits and their staff who lost both office space and housing. Further, the work of the CEO Roundtable and the City's religious leaders was criticial for passage of the $310 million Housing Affordability General Obligation Bond ballot measure. None of this work could have been done by any single agency and today, the CEO Roundtable is an established stakeholder at policy-making tables.
Crisis Response Communications
It has been the ongoing practice of the SFIC to issue statements, either on behalf of the SFIC Board of Directors or in collaboration with key faith leaders, on occasions when extremists act violently in the name of religion. In the past 27 months the following statements were issued:
SFIC Statement of Support for Pacifica Institute (10/13/2016)
All Lives Are Precious and Irreplaceable (7/8/2016)
SF Faith Leaders Denounce Anti-Muslim Hate Speech (12/11/2015)
SFIC Issues Social Justice Statement (3/12/2015)
SFIC Condemns Vicious Anti-Muslim Bus Ads (10/16/2014)
In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks at the Charlie Hebdo magazine and anti-semitic killings, both in Paris, the SFIC, the Jewish Community Relations Council and Islamic Networks Group (ING), sent an interfaith delegation to the Consul General of France in San Francisco to express concern and offer support from San Francisco's diverse faith communities. Please visit: Interfaith Delegation
Following the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015, the SFIC leadership participated in a moving interfaith service for peace at Calvary Presbyterian Church. Please see video at Interfaith Service of Peace and Remembrance.