Interfaith Community Sanctuary

Welcome to Interfaith Community Sanctuary!


Since the year 2000, Interfaith Community Sanctuary has chosen dialogue as the heart of our community and created the Guiding Council (GC) as our decision-making circle. It is comprised of members, officers, ministers and friends. With dialogue as its base, the GC meets monthly on the FIRST Sunday after worship. GC members are stewards of our precious community and together walk a path balancing the practical and the spiritual considerations and responsibilities entrusted to them.

Our Guiding Council officers for year 2016:
President, Gretchen Rowe (with David Jenkins fulfilling presidential duties until April)
Secretary, Becky Wilkening
Treasurer, Sally Jo Gilbert de Vargas

The officers serve through the Guiding Council.
The Guiding Council is held once a month.
All members are invited to attend.
4 members, 2 officers, and one ICS minister are needed for quorum.

We also welcome friends to attend and support the community through their wisdom and insight. 

Below are some circle leadership resources:

The EMPOWERMENT MANUAL: A Guide for Collaborative Groups by Starhawk
The Empowerment Manual is a comprehensive guide for groups seeking to organize with shared power and bottom-up leadership to foster vision, trust, accountability and responsibility. This desperately needed toolkit provides keys to: • understanding group dynamics • facilitating communication and collective decision-making
• dealing effectively with difficult people. Download chapter:  "The Five-Fold Path of Productive Meetings"

The Way of Council Four Intentions:
Listening from the Heart; Speaking from the Heart; Succinctness; Spontaneity...
Within the circle there are four intentions that hold the space together, which when observed, create safety and allow truth and trust to build in this very simple and powerful practice.


“Circle is not a dogmatic form. There is no one right way or wrong way to practice being together in council. Each group has its own unique set of personalities and style. This structure has proven its strength and adaptability from the first campfires of our ancestors to the global age. Each circle contributes to this long-held human tradition by the practices of listening, speaking, and thoughtful action.” Excerpt from a PeerSpirit publication by author Christina Baldwin. See basic guidelines for Calling the Circle.

In the center of this cycle is an AFFIRMATIVE TOPIC:
Discovery: Appreciate “the best of what is”
Dream: Imagine “what could be”
Design: Determine “what should be”
Destiny: Create “what will be”

Article: AI Model Questions by Steve Fitzgerald, Ph.D.
Convener 'City of Angels' URI CC


In essence, consultation seeks to build consensus in a manner that unites various constituencies instead of dividing them. It encourages diversity of opinion and acts to control the struggle for power that is otherwise so common in traditional decision-making systems.

Bahá'í consultation is based on the following principles:
• Information should be gathered from the widest possible range of sources, seeking a diversity of points of view. This may mean making special efforts to seek the views of specialists--such as lawyers, doctors, or scientists. It may also mean looking for information outside traditional specialties or making a special effort to consider the views of community members from diverse backgrounds.
• During discussion, participants must make every effort to be as frank and candid as possible, while maintaining a courteous interest in the views of others. Personal attacks, blanket ultimatums and prejudicial statements are to be avoided.
• When an idea is put forth it becomes at once the property of the group. Although this notion sounds simple, it is perhaps the most profound principle of consultation. For in this rule, all ideas cease to be the property of any individual, sub-group, or constituency. When followed, this principle encourages those ideas that spring forth from a sincere desire to serve, as opposed to ideas that emanate from a desire for personal aggrandizement or constituency-building.
• The group strives for unanimity, but a majority vote can be taken to bring about a conclusion and make the decision. An important aspect to this principle is the understanding that once a decision is made, it is incumbent on the entire group to act on it with unity--regardless of how many supported the measure.

In this sense, there can be no "minority" report or "position of the opposition" in consultation. Rather, Bahá'ís believe that if a decision is a wrong one, it will become evident in its implementation--but only if the decision-making group and, indeed, the community at large, support it wholeheartedly.
This commitment to unity ensures that if a decision or a project fails, the problem lies in the idea itself, and not in lack of support from the community or the obstinate actions of opponents.

Interfaith Dialogue Resources

Interfaith Dialogue from Contemplative Network 

Reflective Structured Dialogue
A Dialogic Approach to Peacebuilding