Ongoing Programs

Monthly Breakfast

For over 15 years the SFIC has hosted a free public interfaith breakfast on the second Thursday of each month 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.” To appreciate the substantive presentations made we would invite you to visit the following link: Monthly Breakfasts

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.

The overwhelming success of this pilot has had significant outcomes. Appreciating the inter-disciplinary collaboration inherent in the design of the Navigation Center model, more specifically the streamlining of services to clients, Mayor Lee subsequently established the new Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing. Additionally, the Navigation Center concept quickly became a model for the nation and was so embraced by city government that it catalyzed its replication in numerous neighborhoods.

San Francisco Interfaith Winter Shelter

Entering our 29th year, 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, 50 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.

At the request of the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing the Interfaith Winter Shelter was able to remain open through the end of March 2017. Extending this year's shelter was made possible, in large part, thanks to our partners at Episcopal Community Services and congregations who volunteered to prepare and serve meals. 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 seven 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 attendees.

The theme highlighted at this year's Interfaith Service was "Today's Youth ... Tomorrow's Leaders." Young people of diverse religious, ethnic and racial backgrounds were selected to be chief participants in the service. In addition, special recognition was paid to Carletta Jackson-Lane, J.D., Executive Director of Sojourner Truth Foster Family Service Agency, Mattie Scott, Founder and Executive Director of Healing 4 Our Families & Our Nation, and Elizabeth Torres, Administrative Advisor for Healving 4 Our Families & Our Nation. (Program)

Implicit Bias for Congregation Leaders

On November 4, 2016 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.

SFIC Core Mission of Disaster Preparedness

Biennial Disaster Preparedness Workshop for Congregations

In May 2016 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(Program)

Plans are underway for the 7th Biennial Disaster Preparedness Workshop for Congregations to be held in the Spring of 2018.

SFIC Executive Director Michael Pappas was invited to make a presentation on the significance and role of communities of faith in the midst of disaster at the Epicenter 2017 Summit, an interactive and experiential learning environment with a unique focus on real world scenarios. He also presented at the San Francisco Join Counter Terrorism Awareness Workshop in July 2016, a nationwide initiative designed to improve the ability of local jurisdictions to prepare for, protect against, and respond to terrorist attacks.

In the aftermath of the devastation caused in Texas by Hurricane Harvey on August 26, 2017, the SFIC issued an email communique encouraging houses of worship to make an offering to support the criticial and time sensitive on-the-ground aid work being undertaken, by way of the comprehensive list of humanitarian aid/relief NGOs resources link on the SFIC website: Humanitarian Aid

SFIC's Role in Responding to Extreme Heat Warning

Anticipating the extreme heat warning forecasted by the National Weather Service over the weekend of September 1-3, 2017, the Emergency Preparedness and Response Branch of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, called upon the SFIC to reach out to its vast constituency to offer key health precautions and encourage congregation leaders to make their houses of worship accessible for those needing respite from the heat. Additionally, at the request of the coordinator for Volunteer Organizations Assisting in Disaster (VOAD), the SFIC facilitated a time-sensitive connection which enabled the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco to authorize and allow its facility to be listed among key strategic cooling stations in the official City advisory. Email comminque here.

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.

It was decided by both the Planning Committee in concert with the SFIC Board of Directors that the next Winterfaith Shelter Walk should be scheduled for the Spring of 2018.

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. Once again, 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 27 - June 4, 2017. It was an enormous success with 28 congregations participating and included the "3rd Annual Interfaith Ride!"

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 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)

At the milestone 20th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Prayer Breakfast on November 21, 2017 the theme will focus on "Communities of Faith Nurturing Education in Our City," at which we will honor philanthropist Clint Reilly for his efforts in pioneering the Bay Scholars program that enables promising low-income students to have access to and flourish in our City's faith-based high schools. We will also be recognizing and honoring the significant role communities of faith continue to play in offering educational opportunities to our City's young people.

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.

Last 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. Last year's memorial service took place 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 Round Table")

For the past eight years, the SFIC has regularly convened the leaders of the 15 major faith-based agencies to provide a forum to address issues of common concern. The SFIC promotes the agencies' collective impact and advocates on their behalf to increase the visibility of the economic challenges faced by non-profits and their clients. Since 2009 the CEO Round Table has responded with a significant unified voice to issues ranging from dramatic budget cuts and their impact on programs and staff, to San Francisco's affordability crisis that prompted the displacement of numerous constituent agencies. Currently, focus is being placed on the attraction and retention of staff in light of shrinking availability and soaring housing costs. As well, the Round Table is developing a strategic response to the significant shift in federal policy priorities and the threat of funding cuts. None of this work could be accomplished by any single agency. Its continued impact has established the CEO Round Table as a major stakeholder at policy-making tables. For a list of the faith-based agencies please visit: Social Service Agencies

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 chronological order from the most current, the SFIC has issued the following statements:

SFIC Stands with our Partner, the Brady Center, to Respond to Las Vegas Shootings (10/4/2017)

Communities of Faith Respond to DACA Decision (9/11/2017)

SF Faith Leaders Stand United Against Hate in Charlottesville and Our Backyard (8/15/2017)

Bay Area Muslims Condemn Attacks on Coptic Christians Op Ed (4/17/2017)

SF Religious Leaders Denounce Massacre of Coptic Christians (4/11/2017)

A Message from SFIC Founder and Past Chair Rita R. Semel (2/27/2017)

SFIC Joins Interfaith Partners Nationwide in Support of Our Muslim Neighbors (1/27/2017)

SFIC Denounces Bomb Threats at Bay Area Jewish Schools (1/19/2017)

SF Bay Area Faith Leaders Denounce Incidents of Hate Targeting Religion (12/1/2016)

SFIC Statement of Support for Pacifica Institute (10/13/2016)

All Lives Are Precious and Irreplaceable (7/8/2016)

SF Communities of Faith Mourn Victims of Istanbul Terrorist Attack (6/30/2016)

Communities of Faith Issue Statements in the Aftermath of the 6/12/2016 Orlando Massacre (6/22/2016)

SF Communities of Faith Share in Grief of Orlando Massacre (6/13/2016)

SF Faith Leaders Denounce Anti-Muslim Hate Speech (12/11/2015)

Church Desecration Denounced by Coalition of SF Faith Groups (9/2/2015)

SF Faith Leaders Respond to Racist Acts of Violence and Destruction (7/2/2015)

SFIC Issues Social Justice Statement (3/12/2015)

SFIC Condemns Vicious Anti-Muslim Bus Ads (10/16/2014)

SFIC and Religious Leaders Speak Out Against ISIS Religious Persecution (9/17/2014)

SFIC Condemns Anti-Semitic Attacks in Overland Park, Kansas (4/14/2014)

Bay Area Faith Leaders Respond to Sikh Crisis (8/6/2012)

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.