Christian group warns against rise of ‘Christian nationalism’

A group formed by Christian leaders is warning against the rise of “Christian nationalism,” saying the merging of Christian and American identities poses a threat to U.S. democracy and religious communities. […] The statement is endorsed by at least 17 Christian leaders [including Presiding Bishop Michael Curry]. You can read the statement here.  You can read the article  here. 

(Courtesy of Diocese of California)

The Survey results are in

Many thanks to everyone who completed the Grace Parishioner survey. The survey is now closed. 

62 people responded to the survey. That is about two-thirds of the congregation. Both 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. parishioners were represented. Parish Leadership has reviewed the data in aggregate, which gives us a good sense of what the majority of parishioners feel about different worship options, music, and communications at Grace. There are several strong trends present and many helpful comments.  Here is a brief synopsis of the results of each of the ten questions we asked everyone to answer:

 How do you feel about Family Sunday? The majority of Grace parishioners like Family Sunday and would like it to continue as it is.
Are you happy with the worship opportunities at Grace? Most folks are happy with the current worship offerings at Grace. There was a trend toward introducing an Evensong service, which the Worship and Liturgy Committee has discussed and decided to try in the fall.
Preaching at Grace: Most people are very happy with the preaching at Grace.
How do you like the music at Grace?: This question generated the most comments, as well as the most varied responses. While some people requested more “traditional” music, others asked for the introduction of some “contemporary” music. There was some confusion about what folks meant by “traditional,” as music that is traditional in one congregation is not the same as in another. Rev. Deb and Arthur Omura, our Music Director, are in conversation about how to best respond to these music concerns. Overall, there was positive response to the idea of beginning a Children’s Choir at Grace. As a result, Arthur (with Amelia Brooks assisting) will be starting a Children’s Choir in the fall.
Would you like more educational opportunities at Grace? There was a great deal of interest in having an online study experience. Rev. Deb is currently working on a weekly podcast. Please share your ideas with her.
Yoga at Grace: It appears that not many people are interested in Yoga at Grace. Leadership will be discussing whether it is worth continuing this program as a community outreach effort.
Communications at Grace: Most people felt that they receive adequate information from Grace. More than half of respondents indicated that they know most of the parish leadership and the primary decision-making criteria at Grace.
Here is some general information, in response to several questions we received:
  • You can receive Grace notes by contacting The Parish Office
  • The Mission statement of Grace is framed in the Narthex of the Church and printed on the bulletin each Sunday. The Vision statement is posted in the Parish Hall next to the light switch.
  • Important Vestry policy and/or financial decisions are always part of the Vestry minutes. If you have questions about a specific policy or decision, you are welcome to speak to any Vestry member or Rev. Deb. The Vestry members’ photos and email addressescan be found in the bulletin each Sunday. Vestry members also introduce themselves during services. You are also welcome to attend Vestry meetings, which are on the second Wednesday of the month at 5 p.m.
  • The minutes of Vestry meetings and current financial information are posted physically on the clipboard on the bulletin board near the door of the Parish Hall and online on The Grace Church Martinez website
  • Information about the SWWEePS acronymn, the difference between a Family and Pastoral-sized parish, and our relationship to The Episcopal Church, has been presented at several successive Annual Parish Meetings and can also be found in Vestry minutes. Rev. Deb also recently posted an article regarding Grace’s relationship to the larger Episcopal Church. For more information about how decisions are made at Grace, please ask a Vestry member or Rev. Deb. They will be happy to talk to you.

The Church in the World

The church in the world
Jesus “said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.'” Mark 16:15
I was raised with the firm conviction that religion and politics do not mix, a notion which was consistent with what I learned in (Episcopal) church. In that time and place, it seemed possible to discuss national and world events without bringing God into it. This is no longer true. People representing themselves as Christians are not only mixing politics and religion, but they are, in some cases, putting love of country above love of God (see article here). This is wrong.
Under these circumstances, The Episcopal Church has adopted a view which compels us to speak to issues that bear directly on our convictions as Christians. Some have referred to this as the church’s “social welfare agenda.” The truth is that it is Jesus’s agenda. It is Jesus who told us to love the poor, the disenfranchised, the homeless, the hungry, and the stranger. It is Jesus who warned us against the love of power and money. It is Jesus who, when asked who our neighbor is, replied by telling a story about someone the disciples thought of as a despicable, foreign, apostate who nonetheless demonstrated the way that Jesus asks us to follow. And it is Jesus who commanded that we share his message.
For these reasons, the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church, The Most Rev. Michael Curry, and the Bishop of California, The Rt. Rev. Marc Andrus, sometimes issue statements on national events, as both did this week. These statements are based in holy scripture and specifically on the words and actions of our Lord Jesus Christ. You can find them below:

In memorium: Wendy Heyse

It is with great sadness that we share with you that our sister Wendy Heyse passed into the arms of God suddenly while traveling. We ask your prayers and support for her husband John, daughter Jessie and son-in-law Josh Senn, and her granddaughter Emma. There will be a memorial at Grace on a future date.

Minutes from the June 12, 2019 Vestry meeting and current financial statement

Vestry Present:          The Reverend Dr. Deborah White (Rector), Lynda Dyer (Sr. Warden), Jim Maniatis (Jr. Warden), Pat Hambly, Ron Luttringer, Christina Reich, Josh Senn, Stephanie Zichichi

Others Present:         Jennifer Sabroe (Clerk)

Vestry Absent:          Connie Towey, Paula Menconi (Treasurer)

Call to Order and Opening Prayer.  The meeting was called to order at 5:00 p.m. by Rev. Deb who led the opening prayer.

 BIBLE STUDY Corinthians 2:1-10


Regarding the Treasurer’s Report, Rev. Deb noted:

  • According to Assistant Treasurer Marj Leeds, had there not been the expense of the hillside work we would be completely caught up with our finances, which is better than we have been at this time of year for the past five years.
  • Deb has received official notification of Michele Lynch’s death, which included a copy of her will, leaving 75% of her estate to Grace Episcopal Church, Martinez.

It was M/S/C (Reich/Senn) to accept the consent agenda items: Minutes of May 8, 2019 meeting; Minutes of June 8, 2019 Vestry Retreat, as amended to include Pat Hambly as present; Rector’s report; Senior Warden report; Junior Warden report; and Treasurer’s report.


 Stewardship: Buildings and Grounds

 Solar. Rev. Deb reported that there had been plans to have someone from a solar energy company make a presentation to the vestry at this meeting. However, in anticipation that the vestry would like to hear from someone else as well regarding solar, she has asked Gary Spenik, who works at Alameda Municipal Power, to ask for recommendations from AMP, as they are on the same solar grid. When this information has been gathered, the presentation will be scheduled for a future vestry meeting.

Remodeling Education Wing, Upper Lot, Personnel. Regarding the items to be discerned that were addressed at the Vestry Retreat, Rev. Deb stated that the question in her mind is “What is most immediate?”  Her response is to hire someone for the Nursery, start the process to look for Jennifer’s replacement as parish administrator, and begin talking about the remodeling of the Education wing.

There was discussion.

It was MSC (Luttringer/Maniatis) to authorize Rev. Deb to begin fact-finding and consultation with stakeholders regarding the hiring of a part-time nursery attendant and part-time parish administrator, and remodeling of the nursery space/Education wing.

Regarding the Upper Lot, the beginning of that discernment is to be determined.


Worship. Rev. Deb reported that Worship and Liturgy is meeting tomorrow. They are working on the season after Pentecost (which we are in now), which will be divided (liturgically). We will either do two segments of 13 weeks, or three segments of 8 weeks, because the season is so long.

Pat reported on the Eucharistic Ministers’ training on Sunday, that it went very well and it was helpful to go over changes to procedures, reinforcing what EMs are supposed to be doing.

Rev. Deb reported that there was a Greeters’ training on June 2 to review their duties. She is working with acolytes on a one-to-one basis since there is just one acolyte per service on Sundays now.

Education. Godly Play has finished for the year and there were recognitions on June 2. Fall planning is underway for Godly Play and Youth Group. Once the Parish Survey is complete, Rev. Deb will be looking at the survey results for input on Education ministries.

 Fundraising (Stewardship). Stephanie reported that she and Ron (liaisons) have not met yet. She indicated that she has talked to someone about having an auction, which has been a successful event in the past at Grace. Rev. Deb commented that the Youth Group is talking about a fundraising idea – Rent-a-Teenager.

Oktoberfest. There was discussion of planning and the need for the Fundraising Committee to find someone to chair this event. Dates being held are October 5, October 12 and October 19, with October 12 as first choice. If folks have thoughts about who might be able to chair this fundraiser, please convey to Stephanie and Ron. We need to have somebody lined up by the end of the month because there’s a lot of planning involved.

(Post-meeting note: It was learned that October 12 is not available due to a user group’s previous reservation for that date. October 5 and 19 are still open.)

Christina and Pat shared what was discussed at the last St. Christopher’s meeting. For the purposes of this discussion, Rev. Deb noted that St. Christopher’s Guild has not communicated future plans to do a fundraiser for the church.

There was discussion and clarification of Parish Life events and Fundraising events. Parish Life events are designed to be for everyone in the parish, free, and arranged through the Parish Life Committee. Fundraising events are designed to raise money for the church (e.g. Oktoberfest, St. Patrick’s Dinner), and are arranged through the Fundraising Committee. Regarding the Lenten Breakfasts, there was agreement that this should be considered a Parish Life event. Rev Deb and Tina (as liaison to Parish Life) will talk to Parish Life chair, Amy Eudy.

Pastoral Care. Rev. Deb updated the vestry on pastoral care.

 Parish Life. Tina reported she and Parish Life chair Amy Eudy will meet on Sunday, June 16, to discuss scheduling a Trivia Night in September. She also indicated she will let Amy know about the Lenten Breakfasts now falling under Parish Life.

 Welcome/Evangelism. Evangelism title has been changed to “Welcome” or “Welcoming.” Tina has offered to head up this ministry. She and Rev. Deb will be updating the welcoming packet provided by Stephanie that was used approximately10 years ago. Rev. Deb explained that welcoming means that we are instrumental and thoughtful about integrating people into the parish. People have a great first impression of Grace, but we are not good at getting people to “stick.” Tina reported that the first meeting of the Welcome Committee will be June 26 at 9 a.m. and one of the items will be looking at the welcoming packet. Lynda reported that she is researching a board/stand for holding nametags she is having made.

 Service/Outreach. Pat reported on current Outreach initiatives.

Sacred Space. Representatives from the Outreach Committee will be going on a “field trip” to Oakland later this month to observe Sacred Space in action. Sacred Space holds weekly outdoor worship services for anyone who wishes to attend. They provide free bag lunches which are put together by volunteers from local churches.

Winter Nights. Representatives from Winter Nights will come to Grace in August to give a presentation at a Faithful Forum. Winter Nights provides homeless families shelter during winter nights. Faith congregations provide space, meals, and volunteers on a two-week rotating basis.

 BYLAWS REVIEW COMMITTEE. Rev Deb will flag items in the current Bylaws that are not consistent with canons of the Diocese and/or National Church, and items that are outdated. She will then send the marked-up copy to Tina and Connie for revision work.

VESTRY RETREAT REVIEW. Vestry members shared their thoughts on the previous Saturday’s retreat. Comments shared: good meeting; good to hang out with everybody; better understanding of what we’re trying to do; spurred me on to be more committed; very informative; learned a lot; good information; feel reinvigorated as part of the vestry and to be more involved; enjoyed it, wish it was longer; informative; liked going over the decision making process; helped develop camaraderie; didn’t like having to move cars.

 SAFE CHURCH AND NON-RESPONDENTS.  There are some folks who have not completed the Safe Church training. This is a problem in these particular areas: Nursery, Godly Play, Eucharistic Visitors, Youth.  Rev. Deb will be notifying individuals they will be removed from the roster if they do not complete the training by (date TBD).

 UPPER LOT AND THE TRAILERS. Rev. Deb reported that the travel trailers parked on the upper lot are now gone. There is one car remaining because it is broken. She is giving the owner time to figure it out what to do.


Survey Results. Rev. Deb reported that there are 30 responses so far. She is waiting to have more responses before aggregate results can be shared (at least half of the congregation = 50). It was suggested that the link be posted on Facebook. It is currently on the website and has been in Grace Notes and the bulletin for two weeks. Rev. Deb reminded vestry members to complete the survey if they have not done so yet.

Youth Update. Rev Deb reported that she and Jes Senn have met to organize Youth Group plans for next year. Forms will be sent to the families to be completed and returned by the first meeting in the fall. The forms are for permission to be part of Youth Group, use of photos, and an injury waiver. At the first meeting, the Youth will determine activities/meetings for the year so we can get them on the calendar. In response to a question about the event scheduled for June 15, it was noted that Jes will send a reminder and confirm who is planning to come.

 Schedule Vestry Announcements. There was consensus to add the task of vestry members making announcements at both the 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. services on their assigned VPOD (Vestry Person of the Day) day. The announcement is for the purpose of (re)introducing, including sharing what ministries they are liaisons to; providing a brief update of what the vestry is currently doing’ and that the vestry is here to work with the parish, answer questions. It’s a way for people to get to know them.

Rev. Deb reminded the group that breakfast after 8 a.m. service is not coffee hour. It is very kind and friendly, but it is not a Grace Church event. Tina is hoping folks from the 8 a.m. service will come to the Welcoming Committee meeting on June 23 at 9 a.m.  There was discussion of the changing nature of the church with respect to welcoming and helping people feel a part of the community. Welcoming needs to come from the entire congregation, not just the rector.

Time of Vestry Meetings/Summer Meetings. There was consensus to keep the 5 p.m. meeting time on second Wednesdays. Rev. Deb indicated that when the nominating committee (Class of 2020: Josh Senn, Connie Towey, Paula Menconi) starts looking for potential candidates for vestry, the message should be “Currently the vestry meets the second Wednesday at 5 p.m., but that is not set in stone. We are flexible and it depends on who is in the group.”  No one should feel they cannot be on the vestry because they can’t meet at that time.

Due to travel/vacations, there was consensus that there will be no vestry meetings in July and August. If something comes up, Rev. Deb will send out an email, and everyone will need to respond.

Mutual Ministry Review (MMR). Lynda will contact Denise Obando (Transition Minister, Diocese of California) for her availability on either Wednesday, July 31 or Wednesday, August 7, to meet with the vestry for the Mutual Ministry Review. (Time of meeting to be determined.)

Mail for José.  Lynda will be setting up a special “mailbox” in the Parish Hall and will be inviting parishioners to drop off cards/notes of encouragement for José while he’s at Boot Camp.


The meeting was adjourned at 6:35 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Jennifer Sabroe, Clerk



Income is above budget by $4672.75



Year to date we have spent $7300  more money than has come in the door. 





May 2019 – dropped to a B minus

  1. Cash on hand fluctuated. Increase of $5000 to repay money used to pay for legal assistance in 2018, increase of $11,547 for one time pledge payment, decrease of $6000 to pay for major landscape weed abatement/fire prevention.


April 2019 – the grade continues as a B

  1. Easter offering income was $2787 above the budget of $2000
  2. The next report grade will likely go up to an “A” as there have been some pledge payments that should bring us back to income equaling expenses.


March 2019

  1. $12,880 was donated to the capital building fund which increased cash on hand.
  2. Deficit year to date is $3246.74
  3. Expenses and income are on track.


February 2019 – the grade has dropped to a B

  1. Deficit year to date is $1014.53.
  2. A bill for $13,800 was paid for foundation work. A parishioner has come forward to cover these expenses.
  3. Expenses were high during February, but this was expected as there was a catchup on payments to the Diocese.
  4. These numbers do not reflect the $65,000 in the Morgan Stanley account.
  5. The budget was loaded into Quickbooks on a monthly basis this year. For example, the income and expenses for Octoberfest shows up in the budget in October.  This is one more step to provide an accurate picture of Church finances.


January 2019 – The grade is “A+” – Enjoy it while you can and bask in this brief moment of glory

Note:  any time the word budget is used below it refers to the draft budget presented at the annual meeting.

  1. Income was greater than expenses by about $7067.35. Wow (but, read further)
  2. Expenses were almost $10,000 less than budget. This is because no Diocesan bills were processed during January
  3. Cash in the bank went up slightly due to tree donation and income less than expenses in January.
  4. Moved $500 to sabbatical account (60107 to 31580) and will do so each month
  5. Moved $300 to weed abatement account (68550 to 31593) and will do so each month.
  6. Note that there is $65,000 in the Morgan Stanley Account.



YTD Actual Income (money that came in) $12,991.59
YTD Actual Expenses (money we spent) $5,924.24
YTD Budgeted Income (what we thought would come in) $14,325.00
YTD Budgeted Expenses (what we thought we would spend) $15,453.08
YTD Income minus Expenses $7,067.35
YTD Actual Income minus budgeted income -$1,333.41




Important Traffic Information

Discovery Builders will begin construction on the development that is being built on the lot above our upper lot (formerly the trailer park) on approximately July 1. Starting that date and continuing at least throughout the month of July, Muir Station Road will be closed daily in both travel directions between the hours of 9 am and 5:30 pm, Monday through Saturday. If you spend time at Grace during the week, please take this into account prior to visiting. Traffic officials will allow you to pass if you tell them you are going to the church. Please see the map below for more informaion. Thank you for your patience.

Muir Station Road Construction Map

Ken Roan Memorial

A Burial Service will be held on Friday, August 2 at 1 p.m.  at Grace. Please save the date. Please see the notice in regard to traffic restrictions that will be in place on that day.

Presiding Bishop’s Pride Month statement honors LGBTQ Episcopalians

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has offered the following statement:
Jesus said: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)In my years of ministry, I have personally seen and been blessed by countless LGBTQ sisters, brothers and siblings. Dear friends, the church has in like manner been blessed by you. Together with many others you are faithful followers of Jesus of Nazareth and his way of love. You have helped the church to be truly catholic, universal, a house of prayer for all people. You have helped the church to truly be a reflection of the beloved community of God. You have helped the church to authentically be a branch of the Jesus movement in our time.

Your ministries to and with this church are innumerable. I could speak of how you often lead our vestries, and other leadership bodies in the church. I could speak of how many of you organize our liturgies of worship, lift our voices in song, manage church funds, teach and form our children as followers of Jesus, lead congregations, ministries and dioceses. But through it all and above it all, you faithfully follow Jesus and his way of love. And in so doing you help the church, not to build a bigger church for church’s sake, but to build a better world for God’s sake.

During June, Americans and people around the world observe Pride. Today, as we mourn the 49 people who were murdered at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando three years ago, I am mindful that Pride is both a celebration and a testament to sorrow and struggle that has not yet ended. Especially this month, I offer special thanks to God for the strength of the LGBTQ community and for all that you share with your spouses, partners and children, with your faith communities, and indeed with our entire nation.