Our History

A Brief History of the San Francisco Interfaith Council

Presidio ChapelThe history of the San Francisco Interfaith Council (SFIC) begins in December 1988 when a group of clergy and lay leaders was asked by then Mayor Art Agnos to provide additional shelter and meals for the homeless during a very wet and cold December. A committee was formed and shelters opened at Calvary Presbyterian Church, Grace Cathedral, Old First Presbyterian Church and Old St. Mary's Cathedral. Other congregations were recruited to provide meals. The temporary shelters closed in February 1989. In October 1989 the Loma Prieta earthquake rocked San Francisco and the Bay Area. The same group of clergy and lay leaders was asked to help provide aid for those displaced by the quake. After those two experiences, with many of the same people serving on both committees, it was agreed that it was time for an organization to be formed to work together on issues of common concern. The San Francisco Interfaith Council was born. Official 501(c)(3) status was obtained in 1991. The offices of the SFIC have been located at the Presidio Chapel since 2003.

Milestones in Our History

  • 1988    First emergency homeless shelter organized *
  • 1989    Committee formed to respond to Lomda Prieta earthquake effects
  • 1991    San Francisco Interfaith Council obtains official 501(c)(3) status
  • 1992    Following Loma Prieta earthquake, interfaith committee formed to monitor City's regulations with respect to unreinforced masonry buildings
  • 1992    Helped organize and served as fiscal agent for CARD (Community Agencies Responding to Disaster)
  • 1993    SFIC led effort to establish interfaith presence at new national park in the Presidio
  • 1994    First participated in CROP (Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty) Hunger Walk
  • 1995    Interfaith Center at the Presidio spun off from SFIC and incorporated as separate non-profit
  • 1997    SFIC starts and funds Interfaith Chaplain Program at Juvenile Hall
  • 1998    First official office for SFIC opens at Brahma Kumaris Meditation Center at 401 Baker Street
  • 1998    SFIC forms interfaith Child Task Force providing supplies, backpacks, and free books to underserved children throughout the City
  • 1998    First Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Prayer Breakfast *
  • 1999    First interfaith concert *
  • 2001    Became local advisory board for First Book, a national literacy effort for underserved children
  • 2001    Shortly after 9/11, organized interfaith service of remembrance which filled Bill Graham Auditorium
  • 2002    First Monthly Breakfast meeting for faith leaders and laypersons *
  • 2003    SFIC office moves to the Presidio Chapel at 130 Fisher Loop *
  • 2005    Organized interfaith home building project with Habitat for Humanity *
  • 2005    First Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Day Service *
  • 2006    Organized first Disaster Preparedness Workshop for Congregations *
  • 2007    SFIC Board of Directors approves hiring Michael G. Pappas as its first full-time Executive Director *
  • 2010    First convening of CEOs of major faith-based social service agencies *
  • 2011    SFIC assumes sponsorship of MLK Day march and interfaith service at Yerba Buena Gardens *
  • 2011    10th anniversary of 9/11 interfaith remembrance event in Golden Gate Park with the San Francisco Opera
  • 2011    Rita R. Semel Endowment Fund for Interfaith Work Established *
  • 2013    First training of congregations - "Responding to the Homeless on Our Doorstep" *
  • 2013    First WinterFaith Shelter Walk to benefit the San Francisco Interfaith Winter Shelter *
  • 2014    SFIC convenes group of faith and non-profit leaders to work on income inequality issues with emphasis on essential housing; the SF Interfaith Essential Housing Task Force is formed *
  • 2014    SFIC Celebrates 25th Anniversary
  • 2014    Rita R. Semel Endowment Fund for Interfaith Work receives $100,000 donation from The George and Judy Marcus Family Foundation at the 17th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Prayer Breakfast
  • 2015    $3 million donation received to fund "Navigation Center" for the homeless
  • 2017    SFIC establishes "Immigration Defense Fund" *

* ongoing