Mission & History
As a coalition of diverse faith leaders, we unite for formation, reflection and collective action. Rooted in the common good, we aspire to be a compassionate moral compass for San Mateo County.
The Cohort seeks to build solidarity among communities across racial, religious, generational, and socioeconomic lines.
Cohort participants represent over twenty-four different religious communities in San Mateo County, including communities where members are primarily white, black, Latinx, affluent, low-income, and LGBTQ.
Our cohort is religiously diverse, and includes faith leaders from Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Catholic, and Unitarian Universalist religious communities, as well as nine different Protestant denominations.
We strive to make San Mateo the most compassionate county in California by:
- Using our faith and the power of radical love
- Creating communities of belonging
- Changing the dominant narrative in public discourse
- Being guided by those most impacted
- Fostering accountability among community members
- Engaging in prophetic and political action
- Practicing intersectional solidarity
- Getting a seat at the table where decisions are being made
My participation in the cohort helped me find my voice to speak up as a religious leader… I gained experience in giving public comments at Board of Supervisors meetings, as well as speaking at press conferences and rallies. I now feel more empowered to speak up for justice.
A few key faith leaders—Rev Penny Nixon, Rabbi Marv Goodman, Rev Ben Meyers and Rev Thomas Skillings— began to organize work on affordable housing and launched the Peninsula Solidarity Network in 2015. After the 2016 election, we recognized the need to expand beyond housing and we formed the San Mateo County Faith Leaders’ Solidarity Cohort in 2017.
The concept of the Solidarity Cohort was inspired by Faith in Action Bay Area, a PICO California local federation. Rev. Ben McBride, former co-director of PICO California, and Dr. Jennifer Martinez, former Executive Director of Faith in Action Bay Area, were both instrumental in the launching of the cohort and we owe them a debt of gratitude. Our goal was to grow the Peninsula interfaith community into a “prophetic” community that reflects progressive moral leadership through civic engagement.
We quickly grew our membership to over thirty leaders from a wide range of religious and spiritual communities. Over the years, Cohort members have engaged in a process of shared analysis of social and political issues that empowers collective action. The cohort provides religious leaders with both the analytical knowledge and practical tools to engage their respective communities in justice advocacy. In Fall 2019, we simplified our name to the Peninsula Solidarity Cohort and hired a designer to create a logo and tagline. In February of 2020, we secured a biweekly faith perspective column in the San Mateo Daily Journal, which has been another important avenue for getting our voices heard on pressing issues in the County.
The Peninsula Solidarity Cohort is such a wonderful force for good in our community.
Our monthly sessions have included the following topics:
- Immigration and Immigrants’ Rights
- Implicit Bias
- State Violence / Theology of Ferguson
- Origins of Residential Segregation
- Theological Analysis of Resistance
- Theatre of the Oppressed
- Engaging our Congregations for Justice Work
- Working with Earned Media
- Engaging in Direct Action and its Theological Framework
- Working with Civic Leaders: the Behind-the-Scenes Story
- Engaging with Business Leaders
- Engaging with the LGBTQ Community
- Building a State of Belonging
- Safe Parking for People Living in Motorhomes
- Census 2020
- Economic Justice / Schools and Communities First
- (En)Countering Bias and Bigotry
- The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity
- Faith, Funding and Effective Budget Advocacy
- Public Health and Vaccine Equity in San Mateo County
- Policing and Bias
- The Story of Self
- Juvenile Justice Reform
- Reproductive Justice
- Supporting Dreamers and Undocumented Families in San Mateo County
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020 we moved to weekly Zoom calls for collegial support and continued advocacy with our partners at Faith in Action Bay Area. In the Fall of 2020 through Spring 2021, we did all our programming online, meeting every other week for either collegial support or shared analysis of issues. Throughout the pandemic, we continued our advocacy through letters to the County Board of Supervisors, local city councils and online petitions. Issues we addressed during the Shelter in Place order ranged from emergency funding for undocumented families, eviction moratoriums, racial equity, advocacy for LGBTQ+ people in San Mateo County, and moving religious communities online in a time of pandemic. In fall of 2022 we resumed meeting in person.
In addition to imparting theoretical knowledge and pragmatic tools, we have effectively built relationships and collective power among cohort members and continue to do so as we attract new members. Our cohort has built solidarity among communities across racial, religious, generational, and socioeconomic lines.
We continue to build on work that has been accomplished during the first five years of our cohort. Amidst the current climate of Covid, severe weather, economic hardship, ongoing racial injustice, deepening political polarization, attacks on our democratic institutions, efforts to undermine the rights of LGBTQ and transgender people, the roll-back of reproductive rights, rising anti-semitism and white nationalism, gun violence and mental health crises, now more than progressive religious leaders need to speak boldly for compassion, justice and belonging.