The ICP is an outgrowth of the international peace movement and the signing of the United Nations Charter at the San Francisco Civic Center in 1945. Before the United Nations headquarters became established in New York City, the Presidio of San Francisco was a leading candidate to become that the United Nations’ permanent home. When the United Nations’ 50th Anniversary was celebrated in San Francisco in 1995, the idea was rekindled of an international center of peace in San Francisco. Out of that grew the Charter of the United Religions Initiative (URI), signed in 2000, whose successor organization URI is the network hub of 800 interfaith groups in more than 80 countries and is also headquartered at the San Francisco Presidio.
The Chapel is a peace stop for the United Nations visitors and most foreign visitors are surprised that Christians, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists all work together. The ICP now reaches thousands through its monthly newsletter, Bay Area Interfaith Connect, and the center engages the Bay Area interfaith community through collaborations with the SF Interfaith Council, United Religions Initiative, the Parliament of the World’s Religions, and North American Interfaith Network.
The United States military is the world’s only community to have systematically built interfaith sanctuaries. The Interfaith Center at the Presidio (ICP), now the steward of the Chapel with its offices located in the basement of the Chapel, continues that tradition within the walls of one such sanctuary.
The Interfaith Center at the Presidio has become an umbrella interfaith organization for the San Francisco Bay Area, and the Presidio Chapel is a familiar gathering place for dozens of organizations with similar goals. Its mission is to welcome, serve, and celebrate the diverse faith traditions and spiritual wisdom of the Bay Area and beyond. Never has the need for healthy cross-cultural relationships been greater. The ICP has an historic commitment to healing and peacemaking within, between, and among religious and spiritual traditions with leadership committed to promoting enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, ending religiously motivated violence, and creating cultures of peace, justice, and healing for the Earth and all living beings. The Chapel hosts regular gatherings for speakers, music, weddings, and other hopeful expression.
Since 2008, the ICP has worked in conjunction with the URI and the San Francisco Interfaith Council, with the goal of restoring and renovating the Post Chapel to serve as spiritual home, gathering place, and corporeal expression of the local and international interfaith movements and the universal hope for peace. All faith traditions are welcome here and one of our primary goals of the restoration is to reconfigure and expand space in the bottom level to accommodate and invite those from religious traditions that do not gather in pews, but sit on the floor, stand in circles, and meet outside.