Interfaith Blessing: Topping Off Celebration of Salesforce Tower
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff extended the invitation to the SFIC to offer an interfaith blessing on the occasion of the "Topping Off" of the new Salesforce Tower currently under construction. This edifice will be the second tallest structure west of the Mississippi River. On April 6, 2017 six prominent faith leaders offered prayers from their respective traditions. Together, a final blessing for all who undertook this monumental effort as well as for those who will labor and visit the structure was prayed in unison by those clergy. An account of this event and the role played by the SFIC's executive director and constituent leaders may be found in this article published that afternoon by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Special Briefing for SF Lay and Congregation Leaders by SFPD Chief William "Bill" Scott
In recognition of the important role communities of faith play in fostering healthy and constructive neighborhood relationships, the newly appointed Chief of the San Francisco Police Department, William "Bill" Scott, accepted the SFIC's invitation to address and answer questions of our City's faith leaders. This exchange, which took place on May 5, 2017 at Congregation Emanu-El, was an opportuity for Chief Scott to outline his priorities for SFPD engagement with the community as well as to report on measures the force is taking in response to the currently issued Department of Justice report. For SFIC invitation to this briefing please visit: Special Briefing
Collaboration with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA)
As San Francisco braces itself for a significant increase in residential and corporate building, the impact new structures and increased inhabitants will have on our City’s transit system is a growing concern. Over the past three years, The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), in collaboration with the SFIC, has engaged congregations along the Dolores/Guerrero Streets corridor to help address issues related to median parking in that neighborhood. As a result of those efforts, the SFMTA Board of Directors recently voted to institute a pilot study along that corridor. Recognizing the SFIC’s role as advocate for its constituent congregations, the Director of the SFMTA has initiated a regular, bi-monthly "check-in" with the SFIC Executive Director regarding the impact of SFMTA policies on faith communities throughout the City.
Convener of the "SF Interfaith Essential Housing Task Force"
With the growing scarcity of housing and skyrocketing rents, low paid/middle income workers who provide essential services for the City are leaving San Francisco. By developing religious institutions' underutilized parcels for affordable rental housing, our faith communities will help stop the outmigration of our essential services workers.
The SFIC convened the City’s key religious leaders and the CEOs of the major faith-based social service agencies on September 11, 2014, for the purpose of developing a response to income inequality and the local housing affordability crisis. At that meeting, the group decided to form the "SF Interfaith Essential Housing Task Force." The Task Force agreed to work with the City to identify parcels of property owned by religious institutions that could be developed for rental housing, using private funding, for low paid workers who provide essential services to the City. These employees work in the fields of health care, social services, education and the arts and public safety.
SF Mayor Ed Lee directed staff in the Mayor's Office of Housing and the SF Office of Economic and Workforce Development to advise the Task Force on its mapping efforts, site recommendations, and funding strategies and to make introductions to prospective developers. A select number of parcels have been identified and are currently under serious consideration for such development.
In addition, during the 2015 election cycle, the City asked the Task Force to endorse and advocate for passage of a $310 million Housing Affordability General Obligation Bond. Due in part to the Task Force's diligent efforts, the measure was approved.
Most currently, the real estate consulting team collaborating with the Task Force is both preparing feasibility and financial analyses on the properties under consideration as well as developing realistic funding strategies and options that will make these sites viable prospects for streamlined development.
Immigration Defense Fund
With a dramatic departure from existing immigration policy at the federal level, congregations and religious based non-profits and academic institutions have emerged as leaders in the effort to provide support and services to vulnerable immigrants whose residency status in our nation has been threatened.
On March 2, 2017 Mayor Edwin M. Lee announced that the City and County of San Francisco, in partnership with the SFIC, would launch a new funding program that would provide resources and support to non-profit community-based organizations serving immigrant communities. The SFIC identified as key priorities for the distribution of funds, those institutions whose missions and activities include: 1) protective and legal services; 2) workshops and trainings; and 3) support for those young people registered in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The full text of this communique may be found by visiting: Press Release
Additionally, the SFIC partnered with key non-profits in co-sponsoring the following panels and forums:
- Free Citizenship Workshop (12/3/2016)
- Immigration Now Workshop at Grace Cathedral (4/20/2017)
- Free Citizenship Workshop (4/22/2017)
- New Sanctuary Panel at St. Agnes Parish (5/25/2017)
Commonwealth Club of California
The SFIC's Executive Director has moderated several panels for the Commonwealth Club's Middle East Forum. In February 2016, Michael Pappas moderated a presentation by human rights activist and author, Rebecca Tinsley, who talked about a project, "Waging Peace: Why Genocide Keeps Happening," which started after visiting a Darfur refugee camp at the height of the killing there. In August 2016 Pappas moderated a panel of representatives of the Abrahamic faiths as they discussed their views on protecting the earth, caring for the environment, and combatting climate change. All Commonwealth Club video and audio podcasts where the SFIC has been the moderator can be accessed here.