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News and Updates

2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010


December 2013

SiVIC assisted in the Warm Coat and Soup Project sponsored by Emmanuel Baptist and Grace Baptist Churches. Overall, 1247 coats were gathered, $4113 raised, and at least 285 families were served, including 120 blood pressure checks. 225 volunteers serve throughout the two days of the event.

September 2013

Over 110 people from across the valley attended the Interreligious Prayer Gathering on Sunday, September 22nd at the Sacred Heart Community Services facility in San Jose. The group included a number of high school students (some of whom had taken part in the interreligious creek cleanup project earlier in the afternoon) and young adults. Read more...

October 2013

Two affiliate congregations of SiVIC – Congregation Sinai and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community – joined with Lincoln Glen Church for a trialogue, "Serving Humanity and Its Challenges." The event was moderated by SiVIC Chair, Andrew Kille and co-sponsored with Abrahamic Alliance International. You can see a video of the conversation at the AAI website, or read more in the AAI Newsletter, OlivA.


September 2013

Recognizing the United Nations Peace Day, SiVIC co-sponsored a Peace Conference in Berkeley that drew participants from around the Bay Area, as well as the Sounds of Peace concert that was held at the Presidio in San Francisco.

July 2013

Sponsored by Shinnyo-en Foundation in San Francisco and Working Partnerships USA in San Jose, nine teenagers, Shinnyo-en Buddhists, Jewish, Zoroastrian, Catholic and Hindu, set out on an interfaith journey taking them to Santa Fe and Taos New Mexico. They visited various religious centers (Hasidic, Tibetan Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu, Catholic) and learned from and prayed with the people of these various religious traditions. See more...

Teens at Buddhist Temple

SiVIC Board Chair Rev. Andrew Kille spoke at a prayer gathering in Burlingame for the victims of the Asiana 214 flight crash, sponsored by Tzu Chi.

Rev. Kille at vigil

May 2013

SiVIC Board Chair Rev. Andrew Kille joined with community and religious leaders to open the new dental clinic for the poor sponsored by Tzu Chi in Milpitas.

SiVIC presented a panel with Rev. Gerry Sakamoto of the San Jose Buddhist Church, Diane Fisher of the Jewish Community Relations Committee, and Imam Tahir Anwar of Southbay Islamic Association speaking on culture and religion and how their communities are involved in public service at a session of the Faith-Based ReEntry Consortium held at SBIA.

Several SiVIC members attended the "Bathing the Buddha" ceremony at the Chung Tai Zen Center in Sunnyvale.

The SiVIC Interreligious Leaders Forum was held at Congregation Sinai with a panel discussion on "Sharing our Scriptures," including several speakers from the ING Interfaith Speakers Bureau.

April 2013

Students from the Silicon Valley Interfaith Teen Council helped to plan and present the Duveneck Forum at Hidden Villa in April. See some photos.

Former SiVIC Board member Rev. Bruce Bramlett was Master of Ceremonies at the annual Holocaust Remembrance observance for the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. Board members Diane Fisher and Steve Herrera worked with students who made presentations.

March 2013

SiVIC presented a panel on interfaith cooperation for several groups of students at the Hoover Middle School in San Jose. Traditions represented included Christian, Jain, Hindu, Buddhist, and Wiccan.

January 2013

SiVIC gathered a table of people reflecting the religious diversity of the Valley for the annual Martin Luther King luncheon celebrated by the African American Community Services Agency of San Jose.



December 2012

SiVIC co-sponsored a Community Tree Vigil for the victims of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Monks from the Chung Tai Zen Center offered a chant, and people were invited to write their prayers and concerns on ornaments that were then hung on a tree in the lobby of the County Building.

November 2012

The SiVIC Annual Assembly met November 30 at the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment and featured a presentation from Shayda Sales, a participant in the Teen Interfaith Leadership Council of Silicon Valley about the program. Two new members were added to the Board: Mahmut Altun, Director of BAY CC/ Pacifica Institute, and Henry Millstein, coordinator of the Interfaith Speakers Bureau at ING.

October 2012

SiVIC Board Members attended Chuck Reed's Annual Mayor's Faith Leaders Appreciation Breakfast at the San Jose City Hall.

September 2012

35 local religious leaders took part in the Religious Leaders Summit co-sponsored by SiVIC and Carry the Vision. Held concurrently with the Carry the Vision Community Nonviolence conference on September 29, the Summit engaged participants in a serious discussion of what religious leaders can do together to overcome violence in our valley that cannot be done alone. The gathering was facilitated by Helen Spector and the Rev. Bill Lesher, preivious board member and board president, respectively, of the Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions.

SiVIC co-sponsored a 9/11 commemorative "Peace Picnic" community gathering in McEntee Plaza, in front of the Santa Clara County Administration Building on September 11th. Hosts for the event were American Muslim Voice, the office of County Supervisor Dave Cortese, and the South Bay Islamic Association.

August 2012

SiVIC Board Chair Andrew Kille spoke at a vigil for the victims of the Gurdwara shooting in Wisconsin held at the San Jose Sikh Gurdwara. The San Jose Gurdwara was a founding affiliate of SiVIC. Read more from the San Jose Mercury

See video of the event.

SiVIC Response to Shootings at Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, following the attack earlier today which resulted in the deaths of seven people, including the gunman, and several more wounded. No religious community should ever have to bear the pain of having their sacred space invaded by hatred and violence. We join with the local Sikh community and other religious communities in pledging to work together to build the understanding and appreciation for our diverse religious traditions that can serve to prevent such tragedies anywhere and everywhere.

July 2012

Representatives of SiVIC attended a meeting of religious leaders in Morgan Hill convened by the mayor, Steve Tate, to link congregations to the wider community.

May 2012

Members of SiVIC were hosted by the Sunnyvale Zen Center and the Tzu Chi Foundation for their respective celebrations of "Bathing the Buddha," an annual ritual symbolizing the need to cleanse the heart. The Interreligious Leaders Forum learned some practical strategies for suicide prevention from members of the Santa Clara County Suicide Prevention Program.

April 2012

SiVIC unveiled the photo display "Our Religious Neighbor Next Door" at the closing event of Silicon Valley Reads. We plan to expand the display and share this snapshot of interreligious diversity in our area with other groups.

Our Religious Neighbors display

March 2012

The Interreligious Leaders Forum featured a book panel discussing Sumbul Ali-Karamali's The Muslim Next Door. Panelists included Johanna Koudsi, who has been assisting American students to engage in dialogue with students at Al-Azhar University in Cairo via Skype; Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones, Pastor of First Unitarian Church in San Jose, Fatih Sarigoz, President of the Pacifica Institute, Silicon Valley, and Sabuhi Siddique, Vice-Chair of the Human Relations Commission of Santa Clara County.

Three members of the Board, Andrew Kille, JianYing Shifu, and Girish Shah, were guests of the Leadership Development class at Hoover Middle School in San Jose, talking about the importance of interreligious cooperation and understanding.

January 2012

The SiVIC Board of Directors met at the local Vedanta Society house and had a chance to learn more about Hindu prayer life in the South Bay. Our January Interreligious Leaders Forum met at the African Methodist Episcopal Church and heard from Clarissa Moore, the curator of an extensive exhibit of African-American cultural materials housed at the church.



December 2011

The Warm Coat and Soup Giveaway project co-sponsored by Emanuel Baptist Church and Grace Baptist Church and supported by SiVIC was able to serve over 294 people and families, received over 700+ warm coats, had at least 158 volunteers help on both days, and raised over $2,032 for needed giveaway items! An awesome job was also done by the sharing of the community resources and the EBC Gospel Choir during the noon hour. We're looking forward to even wider participation next year, December 8, 2012.

November 2011

Board Treasurer Girish Shah meets with California State Controller John Chiang and Assemblymember Nora Campos:

Girish Shah and John Chiang

Several members of the Board took part in the gathering of Santa Clara County religious communities to address the needs of ex-offenders re-entering the community. Diane Fisher, outreach chair, was one of the speakers on an interfaith panel discussing the issues.

Faith, Service, and Fellowship from DE BUG on Vimeo.

October 2011

Members of the SiVIC Board took part in the introductory session held at the County Building to prepare for the Carry the Vision conference to be held next year. Board Treasurer Girish Shah presided.

September 2011

SiVIC helped sponsor two community gatherings commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11. On Wednesday, September 7, we came together in Saratoga to view the inspiring film "LoveHateLove," about three families who had suffered from terrorism, and how they turned evil into compassion and healing. Following a procession of religious leaders from the community, a series of reflections included comments from SiVIC board members Fr. Jon Pedigo of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Jose and Ven. Jian Hu Shifu, abbot of the Chung Tai Zen Center in Sunnyvale, and from Rabbi Dana Magat, Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El, a SiVIC affiliate congregation. Special thanks go to board member Diane Fisher, who was instrumental in securing the film and support for showing it.

See video of presentations by our SiVIC leaders:

Fr. Jon Pedigo
Fr. Jon Pedigo
Jian Hu Shifu
Jian Hu Shifu
Rabbi Dana Magat
Rabbi Dana Magat
Other presentations include the welcome from ING and the Jewish Community Center, Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, and Imam Aladdin El-Bakri. See them all here.



On September 11, over 350 people met at the Muslim Community Center to move "From Fear to Friendship." SiVIC was one of the community interreligious organizations supporting this event sponsored primarily by American Muslim Voice, Muslim Community Association, and the Northern California Muslim Council. Thanks to board member Samina Sundas, who was the primary organizer of this hope-filled evening.

See photos of the gathering at the American Muslim Voice website.

9/11 Candlelight Vigil



Also on September 11, two SiVIC Affilates, the Campbell United Methodist Church and the Pacifica Institute held their annual friendship dinner. A full house shared in a meal and prayers and reflections from several religious traditions. See photos of the event.

9/11 dinner

August 2011

Dr. Subba RaoSiVIC Co-sponsored Be the Change: A special event with Dr. S.N. Subba Rao, a Gandhian legend speaking about compassion, dialogue, interfaith understanding and community service. Dr. Subba Rao is a fellow of the Gandhi Peace Foundation, founder of National Service Scheme and National Youth Project of India, and internationally known for a wide network of Gandhi Youth Camps. The event was held at the Jewish Community Center of Silicon Valley.

June 2011

Members of the Board met at the Baha'i Center in San Jose for their first Board Retreat. Several projects were identified as priorities for the coming year: Shared Service Work projects involving different congregations; Faith-based Wellness Collaborative in conjunction with San Jose State; 3 Community Conversations on significant issues; and Dialogues for Religious Leaders.

May 2011

SiVIC at Zen CenterSiVIC board members joined others from the community to bring greetings to the Chung Tai Zen Center in Sunnyvale as part of their Buddha's Birthday celebration.

Congratulations to the Sikh Community of San Jose on the dedication of the new facilities at their Gurdwara on April 10!

April 2011

April 13: New officers for SiVIC include Rev. D. Andrew Kille (Interfaith Space), Chair; Joy-Ellen Lipsky (1st Unitarian and Center for Spiritual Enlightenment), Secretary; and Girish Shah (Jain Center of Northern California), Treasurer. Rev. Alan Jones (Campbell United Methodist) and Rev. Bruce Bramlett (Episcopal) will serve as co-chairs of the Program Committee, Diane Fisher (Jewish Community Relations Council) heads up the Outreach and Membership Committee, and Kidane Heile (Ethiopian Orthodox) leads the Audit Committee.

April 3: SiVIC members took part in the annual South Bay and Peninsula CROP Walk, raising $361.00 to aid international relief efforts to alleviate hunger and for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. Next year, we'll do even more!

March 2011

SiVIC members at Japan ViglMarch 17: Members of the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council Board, representing Christian, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and Unitarian communities joined with several hundred members of the local community at the San Jose Buddhist Temple Betsuin for a Vigil and Prayers for the people of Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

March 6: The Inaugural Assembly of the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council was a great success! Nearly 200 people gathered at Santa Clara University to celebrate the new venture and participate in a community conversation prompted by the Knight Foundation "Soul of the Community" report. Those bringing greetings to SiVIC included Dave Cortese, Chair of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors; Cindy Chavez, former San Jose City Councilwoman and Director of Working Partnerships; Chief Chris Moore of the San Jose Police Department, and Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian, Center for Spiritual Enlightenment and member of the Board of the Parliament of the World's Religions. Read more . . .

February 2011

Members of the community gathered on February 17th in Campbell for Celebration and Prayers for the People of Egypt and their Neighbors, which included prayers from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions, special music, and eye-witness reflections on what has been happening in Egypt now and the implications for the future. See more . . .

January 2011

The Interfaith Leaders' Dialogue/SiVIC meeting on Thursday, January 20, 2011 will feature conversation around Police and Religious Communities. Members of the Jain Center in Milpitas will be sharing a video that was made by the San Jose Police Department to educate their officers about the Jain Community. They will talk about how the video came to be produced, and about additional efforts that are being made to develop an Interfaith Advisory Committee to assist the Police in dealing appropriately with religious communities in Silicon Valley. There will be an update from the Steering Committee of the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council.


December 2010

The next Interfaith Leaders' Dialogue/ SiVIC meeting will be on Thursday, January 20, 2011 at the Jain Center, 722 South Main Street, Milpitas. The Jains will provide a vegetarian lunch and tours of the temple and facility. We'll have an update from the Steering Committee and note plans for the March Kickoff gathering at Santa Clara University.

The Outreach Committee is planning visits to meet local religious community leaders to describe what SiVIC is about and invite them to participate. The Infrastructure Committe is working on communications strategies and channels (you can find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter!).

If you would be interested in working with one of the committees, contact the convener listed with the descriptions.

November 2010

The Steering Committee has met several times, developing plans for the General Assembly in March. Working groups on Infrastructure, Membership, and By-Laws have also met. We plan to have a community gathering in January to update everyone on our progress.

The date for the first Assembly Meeting has been set for Sunday, March 6, 2011, in the Mission Room of Benson Hall at Santa Clara University. This will be the kickoff celebration for the Council.

October 2010

At our September 28th meeting, those present (over 50 people representing a wide range of religious communities) approved the Planning Team Proposal as a framework for continuing to develop the Silicon Valley Interreligious Council, and appointed the Planning Team to continue serving as an Interim Steering Committee. The goal is to convene our first General Assembly meeting in March of 2011.

In addition, four new committees were begun, to be convened by members of the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee will also serve as a nominating committee. The committees and their convenors include

  • By-laws and nonprofit status committee (Girish Shah)
    This group will draft the necessary documents to establish SiVIC as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.
  • Membership development and outreach committee (Diane Fisher)
    This group will work on contacting religious communities, non-profit agencies, educational institutions and governmental groups to invite their participation in SiVIC.
  • Infrastructure committee (Joy-Ellen Lipsky)
    This group will work on setting up communications capacity and organizational structures needed to carry out our intended projects.
  • Fund development committee (Chuck Rawlings)
    This group will work on finding the financial resources needed to support the work of SiVIC.