Our Fall Pledge Drive is almost over!

Stewardship season is winding down! Please consider what you can give to help Grace in our mission to welcome, support and serve all God’s people
You can find Reverend Deb’s Stewardship letter at this link.
You can watch Vestry member Jane Ramsey’s Stewardship message here

Indoor, in-person worship services cancelled as county moves back to purple tier

Dear Community of Grace,
We so much enjoyed seeing some of you at our indoor, in-person service! Unfortunately, since that time COVID 19 rates have increased in Contra Costa County and the state of California at large. This has resulted in a decision by Contra Costa Health Services to restrict worship services to outdoor only. Based on this guidance, as well as deep conversation with both the Regathering and Worship and Liturgy Committees, we have decided to return to one 9 a.m. SIMULCAST ONLY service, THIS SUNDAY here on our Facebook page beginning at 8:55 a.m.
I know this is frustrating for many of you – and it’s frustrating to me too- but, as always, your spiritual and physical well-being are my primary concerns. I believe that as a community of Christ we are never farther away from one another than our hearts and that no matter where we are – virtual or in the flesh – God is with us. Wait with hope.

Vestry minutes for September 9, 2020

Present:  The Reverend Dr. Deborah White (Rector), Joshua Senn (Jr. Warden), Amelia Brooks, Chandra Damele, Sally Hanson, David Kennedy, Jane Ramsey, Connie Towey, Stephanie Zichichi

Not present:  Christina Reich, (Sr. Warden) 

Guests:  The Rev. Walter Ramsey, Ted Lynch and Joyce Lannert, Michele Lynch Cobb’s brother and sister. Columba Salamony, Field Education Student, Beth Ilog, Jim Ilog, Sarah Williams (Parish Administrator)

M/S/C denotes motion made, seconded and carried. The names following M/S/C in parenthesis denote the persons who made the motion and seconded.

Call to Order and Opening Prayer. The meeting was called to order at 6:00 p.m. and led in prayer by Rev. Deb.

Bible Study. A litany of being God’s instruments of goodness, by Joyce Rupp. The group read and discussed the poem and litany.

Guests:  Michele Lynch Cobb’s brother and sister, Ted Lynch and Joyce Lannert, expressed the family’s good wishes, their gratitude for the support the church gave to Michele, and their pleasure in the bequest that Michele was able to give to Grace.

 Consent Agenda. It was M/S/C (Towey/Zichichi) to approve the consent agenda items: Minutes of August 12, 2020; Rector’s Report; Treasurer’s Report; Senior Warden Report; Junior Warden Report


Rev. Deb introduced our new Field Education Student, Columba Salamony. He is a second-year student at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, studying to be an Episcopal priest, and will do his internship at Grace during this coming school year.

Chandra Damele was welcomed to the vestry.  Chandra is filling the unexpired term left by Betty Case, who is moving away.  Betty was in the second year of her term.

Ministry Updates

Outreach — Committee has not met, but will have a meeting soon.  Winter Nights is planning to continue this winter, but plans are being adjusted for the pandemic.

Worship and Liturgy — Sally reported that the major topic at the August meeting was the in-person service, and at the upcoming September meeting they will discuss whether to continue it.  The largest attendance so far has been seven people (ten total), the smallest was three (six total).  The service is appreciated by the attendees, and also there is a good deal of work involved for Rev. Deb and for the volunteers who serve and clean the chairs and so on.

Welcoming  — Tina still needs more coffee hour hosts.

Education — Amelia Brooks has taken on responsibility for the adult education portion of education ministry, including the Faithful Forum series.  She is also looking into EfM (Education for Ministry).  Godly Play is going well, regularly goes out every Thursday.

Pastoral Care — Deacon’s Pantry is very well stocked, and visits to it have fallen off somewhat. The parish has seen several illnesses, and three recent deaths.  Tom Taylor’s funeral will be held Saturday, September 12, simulcast on Facebook so that all may participate.  

Parish Life — David reported that at the last vestry meeting we discussed beginning a virtual men’s group or parent group. Stephanie mentioned the possibility of a drive-up Oktoberfest.  If giving out food is both allowed and safe, it would be a good event.  [Stephanie pointed out that we need a working church directory.  Sarah will send a vestry phone list and help Stephanie to get back into her Realm account.]  Rev. Deb reported that we are holding a drive-in movie on Friday, September 18, for safe fun and fellowship. The costs are a gift from Gary Spenik — the screen, the transmitter, and the royalty payment for the rights to show the movie.  Please invite everyone!  The movie is Night at the Museum.  If this first, free event is successful, we could do it again as a fundraiser, charging admission. 

Stewardship — We still need a stewardship chair to organize the pledge drive.

Buildings and Grounds — 

Video and Sound System/Audiovisual Booth:  The future audiovisual booth off the choir loft is being prepared.  We have contracted for the sound system, keeping the price to the $25,000 that the vestry voted. Rev. Deb reminded vestry members to ask questions if they have concerns about spending (or anything) because it is up to them to provide accurate information to parishioners. She reminded the Vestry that funds for the audiovisual system are not from the regular budget; part of it is from non-earmarked buildings and grounds savings, part comes from portions of the music budget that are going unused due to the nature of our music program during quarantine, and part of it comes from the bequest left by Michele Lynch Cobb, and from three anonymous donors, each donating $3000.  Marj Leeds cleaned out the space; Gary Spenik cleaned and painted it.  We will soon have a start and end date for the installation of the system.  We will have three cameras, two fixed and one that can be used remotely, such as outside or in the parish hall.

The back stairs off the kitchen did not pass inspection because they code requires a railing; a person has been found to install a railing and it is in progress. Dick Evans is taking the lead on this.

The back steps are being expanded to the length of the sliding glass window. Gary Spenik is coordinating this effort.

The gutters have been installed but the drainage is still in process. Dick Evans and Jim Maniatis have a plan for this.

Discovery Builders has given the formal ten-day notice that they will be on our property beginning September 14, as arranged, to facilitate their project.  Marj Leeds has offered to check on them daily to see that they are complying with the contract, but other volunteers would be welcome to help with this. They took down our fence, and the contract requires that anything they damage must be replaced with something better.  Rev. Deb assumes that they will build a stone wall in that place, since that is what they are building elsewhere on their property.  We also have a $10,000 deposit from them, in case of damage. They expect to need access for two weeks or less.  We will allow Las Trampas to use the lower lot for the duration, to avoid damage.


Rev. Deb reported that Center of Gravity Academy, a school for children of essential workers, wants to rent three areas of our campus four days per week for approximately 12-18 months while their new property is being completed.They would be using the Parish Hall, Education Building and outside areas. Facilities Manager Dru Grissom has been working with them to determine how the relationship would work. Rev. Deb has been in touch with other rectors/vicars whose congregations house schools and with Christopher Hayes, the Chancellor of the Diocese, regarding the legal aspects of the potential rental. Marj Leeds has been calculating the financial aspects of the possible relationship. Rev. Deb reported that our attorney will check the contract prior to it being signed. The next step is for Marj, in her capacity as our Godly Play coordinator, to meet with the school principal and walk the site, identifying more specifically how we would share the space and then for Rev. Deb, Dru, and Marj to meet with both the Executive Director and the Head of School by Zoom on Monday. Vestry members asked questions about the proposed rental. Rev. Deb clarified that the vestry does not need to approve the rental but that she would like to have their approval. Several vestry members said they would like to review the contract prior to it being signed. It was agreed to have a special vestry meeting next Wednesday, September 16 at 6:30 pm for an update and to express support for the rental.

DISMISSAL  Rev. Walter led the dismissal and the meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m. 

Respectfully submitted,


Sarah Williams

Parish Administrator

Vestry minutes from August 12, 2020

Present:  The Reverend Dr. Deborah White (Rector), Christina Reich (Sr. Warden), Joshua Senn (Jr. Warden), Amelia Brooks, Betty Case, Sally Hanson, David Kennedy, Connie Towey, Stephanie Zichichi

Absent:  Jane Ramsey

Guests:  The Rev. Walter Ramsey, Jennifer Sabroe, Sarah Williams (Parish Administrator)

 M/S/C denotes motion made, seconded and carried. The names following M/S/C in parenthesis denote the persons who made the motion and seconded.

 Call to Order and Opening Prayer. The meeting was called to order at 6:05 p.m. and led in prayer by Rev. Deb.

 Bible Study. 1 Corinthians 12:1. The group read and discussed the various experiences of God’s power, including as it pertains to the upper lot.

 Consent Agenda. It was M/S/C (Towey/Reich) to approve the consent agenda items: Minutes of July 8, 2020; Rector’s Report; Treasurer’s Report. There were no warden’s reports.


Treasurer’s Report  Rev. Deb called attention to the treasurer’s report, which shows that we are $10,000 under budget:  $4,500 low on pledges, loss of anticipated income from the St. Patrick’s Day dinner, and loss of building use fees during the pandemic.  Fortunately, expenses are also under budget.  Rev. Deb requests that we activate the phone tree now and, while checking in with our people, we gently remind them to keep up with their pledges if they are still in a position to do that.  (Also, if they need help, they should ask Rev. Deb because the RDF is doing well right now. Such help is confidential, just between the parishioner and Rev. Deb.)  Question:  Are the donations from nonmembers who watch our services on Facebook helping?  Answer from Rev. Deb: Most of those have been designated for the Rector’s Discretionary Fund.

Ministry Updates

Outreach — No report right now.

Worship and Liturgy — Sally reported that there will be an in-person worship service this coming Sunday, August 16.  The service will follow the precautions identified in the Regathering plan, including a check-in station with hand sanitizer, temperature checks, extra masks, and a sign-in requirement.  The simulcast will now be at 10:00 am. Many details were discussed about the new service and the new schedule.

Welcoming  Tina is having some trouble finding hosts for coffee hour, and needs one for this coming Sunday. Tina is going on a much-needed vacation, and also hopes to get some help at her county job soon, which might allow her more time for church work.

Education  Amelia reports that Marj is handling Godly Play beautifully.  Rev. Deb reports that August 23 is our second Faithful Forum by Zoom.  Vestry members will try to attend, and also to encourage people to attend when they make their calls.

Pastoral Care Connie reports that there are many dishes prepared, some of which are in home freezers and need to be moved to the church freezer if there is space.  Deacons’ pantry also has food.  If people need food, they should come and get some.  (Wednesday is a good day for this, because Rev. Deb is at the church all day on Wednesdays.)

Parish Life Grace Book Club has resumed on line. Rev. Deb has offered to support some in-person fellowship events if they follow COVID protocols.

Buildings and Grounds

Gutters are on and Jimmy Maniatis and Dick Evans have committed to following through with drainage installation.

Back steps did not pass inspection. The railing needs to be different. Dick Evans has offered to hire someone to do the railing installation to code.

Sound system — We are still negotiating a contract.  We need to clear a dedicated circuit for the sound system — right now there is not a spare circuit to use.  We would need to hire an electrician to run a new circuit.  The budget that was approved for the sound system now needs to include the price of the electrician.

Upper Lot committee status 

The vestry discussed the purpose of the committee, agreeing that its task is to gather information on various possibilities, not to make decisions.  There was a great deal of discussion on who should be on the committee and how to word communications from the vestry about the upper lot project. Rev. Deb reported that the committee has grown but we are still seeking new members. Rev. Deb will rewrite the Grace Notes item to make this more clear, with the help of any vestry members who can send suggestions.  


Stewardship Drive  Marj and Rev. Deb are attending a webinar next week about how to conduct a stewardship drive online during the pandemic.  Others are invited to join. We still need a stewardship chair, so as to avoid having Rev. Deb run the stewardship campaign.

Vestry Nominations 

Rev. Deb reported that Betty Case is resigning from the vestry because she and her husband Jack are moving out of town. The vestry expressed their appreciation for Betty’s work and their sadness at the loss to the congregation. Rev. Deb then initiated a conversation about how vestry positions are filled. The by-laws indicate that spots that open between Annual Meetings are filled by individuals appointed by the Rector. Rev. Deb indicated that if anyone had any ideas for who would be a good fit to fill Betty’s spot they should let her know.

Rev. Deb also suggested looking ahead to when it is time for nominations for vestry elections at the Annual Meeting in January, since the situation is complicated this year. The vestry reviewed the situation as follows:

The nominating committee is made up of vestry members in their second year.

Sally is filling the one-year remainder of Ron’s term, so she terms out at the end of this year. However, the bylaws state that, since she filled only a one-year term, she may serve a second term if she is willing.

Connie and Josh are finishing their terms this year.  The nominating committee will need to find a junior warden.

David is filling the two-year remainder of Jim Maniatis’ term. This would have been Jim’s middle year, so that puts David on the nominating committee.

Tina is in the second year of a regular three-year term, so she is on the nominating committee.

Betty would have been the third person on the nominating committee, but she is leaving.  Even if we fill her spot right away, that person probably should not be on the nominating committee as s/he will not have enough experience to know who to nominate. Bylaws specify that the nominating committee consists of  three vestry members, usually ones who are in their second year. We should think about who should be the third vestry member on the committee.  Elections are in the fall, and information on the candidates needs to be published ahead of time.

Parish Communication Suggestion from David

David:  Can we create a public online calendar (ICS or Google) for church activities, so that people can add events to their own online calendars?

Jennifer:  Now we pay for a subscription to My Church Events. 

David expressed that he would be willing to set up something that was free and easier to access. Sarah will assist.  

Field Education Student

Our field education student Columba Salamony starts September 6 as his first Sunday. He will primarily do his Field Education online, although he may be able to attend church in person.

DISMISSAL  Rev. Walter led the dismissal and the meeting adjourned at 8:01 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Sarah Williams

Parish Administrator