Based on the input of more than fifty Bay Area religious leaders and people of faith who gathered in two strategy sessions (in November 2004 and February 2005) and two planning meetings (in December 2004 and March 2005), the Coalition of Welcoming Congregations (CWC) began to take shape as an organization that builds upon the experience, commitment, and vision of individuals and congregations from Christian, Jewish, Unitarian Universalist, and Buddhist traditions. The individuals involved to date represent the racial and ethnic diversity of the Bay Area as a whole and they have expressed their strong commitment to creating an organization that includes a variety of religious traditions (including Muslim and Hindu) and is committed to building a coalition that is racially inclusive, ethnically diverse, and made up of individuals and congregations from various socio-economic strata of society.

An additional goal of the CWC is to demonstrate how churches, synagogues, mosques, and other communities of faith can work together to strengthen legal protections for LGBT people and their family members; provide a religious rationale for supporting civil marriage for lesbian and gay people; and initiate public dialogue on a myriad of issues that conservative religious groups so effectively control and manipulate today.

By forming strong alliances with non-religious LGBT activist organizations in the Bay Area the CWC will not only increase its own effectiveness but also serve as a useful ally to existing organizations that are dedicated to reducing the harmful effects of homophobia within our society and countering the negative effects of well-funded conservative religious organizations in the Bay Area and in California as a whole.

The aim of the CWC is to bring together religious leaders, LGBT people of faith and their allies from a wide range of religious traditions in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area to form a progressive, effective and media-savvy voice on matters relating to sexuality and religion, homophobia, and the enfranchisement of LGBT people within society as a whole. By creating a strong network of congregations and local faith communities of various religious traditions and denominations throughout the Bay Area, the CWC connects local religious leaders, religious congregations/communities, and individuals of faith who are highly motivated to act as agents of positive social change. In addition, the CWC provides a powerful tool for like-minded individuals to ally themselves with other LGBT people of faith and their allies and to make known their views in the current public debates concerning religion, sexuality, and LGBT people.

In 2006, Rev. Anita Cadonau-Huseby was hired on a part-time basis as the first coordinator for the CWC. In 2008, Rev. Roland Stringfellow became the first full-time coordinator of the CWC. In 2010, Nina Pine joined the staff as the CWC’s Associate Coordinator, later in the same year the Rev Dawn Roginski took over the position of Associate Coordinator. The advisory board for the CWC, made up of clergy and lay leaders from a variety of spiritual traditions, grew from 5 members in 2008 to 12 by 2010.