Faith and Fear

My husband has taken to telling my children that they would starve in a grocery store.  By this he means that for intelligent individuals they often seem quite helpless.  Although both can do things on computers that I can’t, they sometimes seem stymied by things that involve the physical use of their own hands and eyes.  And they are impatient.  Despite being able to conceive creative projects and determine how to make them they sometimes end up with a disappointing facsimile of their idea simply because they are unwilling to let the paint dry between coats.  Obviously some of their impulsivity can be attributed to youth, but it seems to me that it is also characteristic of individuals who are being raised in a push-button society.

There is a scene in one of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” movies in which a teenager locks his brother in the basement of their home.  The younger boy looks frantically around for some way to call for help or escape.  There on a table is a telephone.  He picks up the receiver tentatively and finds it has a dial tone.  He is momentarily elated- until he is unable to find any buttons to use to dial.  Tragically, it is a rotary phone -and he can’t figure out how to use it.  That episode is, of course, an exaggeration – one at which my own children take great offense.  They tell me that they know what such remnants of the ancient 1980s are – but I have observed that asking them to use them is a different story.  They are not alone.  I see this attitude among many people who would rather wait out a power outage rather than attempt paperwork using actual paper.  It’s not that we don’t know how, it’s just that we don’t know why we should.

Perhaps it’s because we don’t have to.  When I was a child, my favorite books were about children who found themselves in unusual and challenging circumstances that forced them to be courageous and ingenious.  While they inevitably made mistakes, they also invariably triumphed over their adverse situations, emerging from them wiser and more mature.  Fiction?  Yes – but aspirational fiction.  I have heard people argue that today’s fiction for children and young adults is too dystopian and grim, but I don’t think that’s true.  “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” trilogies focus on future worlds that are systemically unjust and casually violent, but they are no more dangerous than Middle Earth or Narnia.  They present thorny moral dilemmas and seemingly impossible situations that require their protagonists to ponder moral issues and find creative solutions in the same way that Trixie Belden and the Hardy Boys did.  And Tris and Katniss are no more without adults to intervene than pretty much any Disney princess – none of whose mothers appear to survive their childhoods (think about it and wonder as I do if Walt Disney had mother issues).  The difference is not in the books.  The difference is in our willingness to allow our children to encounter situations that challenge them in similar, if less dangerous, ways.

That’s easy to say but, given the choice of safety or moral learning most parents (including me) will choose safety every time – and I’m sure my parents felt the same way.  It is not the value but the definition of “safe” parenting that has changed.  When I was a child, I was allowed to “go play” after completing my homework.  I knew where I was permitted to go, what I could and could not do – and what would happen if I got caught doing it.  Those were my boundaries. Today’s children play in play groups.  They are driven to and from structured after school activities.  Permission slips are needed for church activities.  Some of these changes are good and necessary.  It is not unreasonable to refuse to leave your children with an adult simply because s/he is an authority figure.  We know that some teachers, scout leaders and priests have abused the trust placed in them.  But is our level of caution necessary overall?

According to Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics, between the years that I was five and thirteen years-old violent crime in the United States rose from three-tenths of one percent to two percent.  In the state where I lived, it rose from one-tenth of one percent to almost half of one percent.  When my daughter was five, the national violent crime rate was four percent but dropped back to three percent by the time she was thirteen.  In the state where she lived, it dropped from five-tenths of one percent when she was five to four-tenths of one percent when she was thirteen. Put simply, the national violent crime rate was an average of one percent higher during my daughter’s childhood than my own.  So what gave me the idea that she was far more likely to be kidnapped or molested than I had been?

I would suggest that it is the result of something that I (paraphrasing Freud) think of as “media availability hysteria.”  While my parents read the newspaper and watched network television, thanks to omnipresent news and opinion feeds, parents today are faced with reports of violent crime everywhere they go.  The information highway is one long terror-filled trip for parents who are primed by talk shows, Facebook posts, and blogs to find evidence that they are inadequate to the task of keeping their children safe.  FDR told our parents and grandparents that there was nothing to fear but fear itself; we have learned and have subsequently taught our own children that there is nothing to trust but fear itself.  We don’t know how to deal with things not because we’re lazy but because we’re frightened.

This is antithetical to the message of Christianity, which is one of faith. In a country in which some religions equate faith with good fortune, we have lost track of the scriptural meaning of faith. Having faith does not mean that bad things will not happen to us if we believe in God. There will be drought. There will be excessive heat and floods. There will be natural disaster; no one will be spared misfortune in life. The difference is how we deal with those hardships, and how we manage our fear of them. We know that fear can be mobilizing and clarifying, but it is also destructive and paralyzing. True Christian community is a place where we can speak our fears aloud to one another and to God and to find solutions for working through them.  It is a place where our children can be challenged without being endangered. It is a place where we can struggle collectively with our doubts while retaining our faith.

Harpsichord Recital at Grace

On Sunday, February 24, at 2:30 p.m. Grace Music Director Arthur Omura presents a study of the dark serenity of French harpsichord music of the 18th century, a time when French culture was supreme, and the clavecinistes set the musical taste for all of Europe. Works by D’Anglebert, Rameau, Couperin Le Grand, and Duphly, demonstrate the transition from the effortless control of the dance suite to the ecstatic freedom of the chaconne and the passacaglia. Invite friends! Free-will donation.

God’s Love is for Everyone

Valentine’s Day is here this week and the focus for many is on love, expressed with candy hearts, cards, flowers, candlelit dinners in romantic hideaways — all the trappings of romantic love between people. There is nothing wrong with the frivolity and fun of Valentine’s Day, but does this candy-coated holiday really tell us anything about love? Specifically, what does it reflect about God’s love? How does that fit in with the candy hearts and all the rest?

The Most Reverend Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, has preached extensively on the topic of love, most famously at the May 19, 2018 royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Millions watched as Bishop Curry preached on the power of love. Using the couple’s chosen scripture from Song of Solomon as a springboard- “Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; for love is strong as death… Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it” – Curry broadened his canvas from the love of one romantic couple to the redemptive power of love for the entire world. Arguing that we know love because it feels right, the bishop told his audience of millions that the joy that love brings originates at its source: a compassionate and passionate God. Curry’s sermon became a rallying cry around the world, even spawning an imitation by Saturday Night Live comedian Kenan Thompson (“Love is redemptive. Love is kind. Love is what makes a Subaru a Subaru”).

Curry’s royal wedding homily was not unique to that moment in time. For Episcopalians who have followed the bishop’s preaching and read his book, “Crazy Christians,” the theme of the lifting, life-giving, and liberating power of love is familiar – and he has not stopped talking about it. Last week, Bishop Curry was among the clergypersons asked to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast.  Unsurprisingly, he chose to recite a passage from the Bible about love: “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing” (I Corinthians 13: 1-3). He then proceeded to explain to the president and politicians gathered in the room that, although this passage is often read at weddings, it is not really about romantic love, but about the love of God. Curry told the room full of powerbrokers that the author of the passage was writing during a time of turmoil and dissension in the community at Corinth, and his words were an effort to encourage them to work through their differences using a lens of love and mutual concern.

Bishop Curry recently offered more insight into understanding God’s love in an interview with Judy Woodruff on National Public Radio:

“The truth is, love is not a sentiment. It’s a commitment. It’s a decision and a commitment to seek the good and the welfare and the well-being of others, sometimes even above my own unenlightened self-interest, to borrow from the philosophers. And the truth is that you can’t build a society, there is no social compact, there is no functioning democratic society, there is no freedom, true freedom, when everybody is functioning solely on their own unenlightened self-interest.”

The love of God, then, is an obligation, in the strongest sense, that God will be present to all people, in good times and not-so-good times. God’s love is there when we are steadfast and true and also when we stray from that commitment ourselves. God’s love is bigger, broader than our own hearts, and far stronger than a paper valentine or a candy heart.

Writing in Psychology Today, Dr. Neel Burton talks about the seven types of love. Fourth on his list is agape, what he calls “universal love, such as the love for strangers, nature, or God.” Burton notes, “Given the increasing anger and division in our society, and the state of our planet, we could all do with quite a bit more agape.

That is what we seek to share as members of the Episcopal Church. We recognize that to experience God’s love, we need to reach out beyond ourselves and beyond those close to us, looking past mutual dependence and quid pro quo to find the good in all people – whether they act or think like us or not. When we do that, we begin to scratch the surface of God’s love. As Bishop Curry notes, “If it’s all about me, you actually have us tearing ourselves apart. Somehow, we have got to look for common good, for the good of others. It’s the Samaritan road, the parable of the good Samaritan in the New Testament, about the one who is willing to risk to save another person’s life, to help another person’s life.”

January 2019 Vestry Minutes

Grace Episcopal Church Martinez, California

Unadopted Minutes of Vestry Meeting, January 9, 2019

 Vestry Present:          The Reverend Dr. Deborah White, Stan Applegate (Sr. Warden), Les Marks (Jr. Warden), Paula Menconi (Treasurer), Lynda Dyer, Pat Hambly, Sally Hanson, Ron Luttringer, Josh Senn, Connie Towey,

Others Present:         The Rev. Walter Ramsey, Jennifer Sabroe (Clerk), Marj Leeds (Finance Committee Chair)

Vestry Absent:          None

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

Discipleship: Peter’s Call. Spiritual Calling

CONSENT AGENDA

It was M/S/C (Towey/Hambly) to accept the consent agenda items as presented: Minutes of December meeting; Rector’s report; Senior Warden’s Report; Junior Warden’s report; Treasurer’s report.

 FINANCE COMMITTEE

Finance Committee Chair Marj Leeds presented the following items for information and action:

2019 Proposed Budget. The proposed budget was presented for review. It will be presented as a draft budget at the Annual Meeting on January 27. At the February Vestry meeting, the Vestry will vote on the budget. Marj and Paula highlighted:

  • The year 2018 began with an expected deficit of $20K; it ended with a deficit of $10K. Of that $10K, $5K was legal charges related to the easement. Grace has had a deficit for many years.
  • The Finance Committee (Marj Leeds, Dick Evans, Paula Menconi) met the previous week and went over the budget in detail, starting with the things known, such as salaries and contracts, and then determined estimates on other expenses based on previous years. The projected deficit is $22,937. Income, based on information known now — current pledges, estimated plate receipts, facility use charges, etc. — is expected to be $12K less than 2018.
  • Marj noted that pledge updates will be added to the proposed budget information before it is presented at the Annual Meeting and prior to the February Vestry meeting.
  • The Diocesan assessment increased $7K. Marj explained that the assessment is calculated by the Diocese by applying a standard formula to the dollar amount representing what we spent two years ago (based on information in the annual parochial report).

Proposal to pay back Budde Law Firm payments to General Account. It was M/S/C (Applegate/Towey) to direct the Treasurer to apply $5,000 of the easement payment back to the general unrestricted equity account.  

Rev. Deb clarified that when the committee negotiated the fee of $65K for the easement, it was because we assumed there would be $5K of legal expenses, so we would not have to pay money out of the church’s general fund to get this easement agreement. The $5K off the top is paying back to the savings fund the amount we paid in legal fees, so that the easement agreement did not cost the church any money.

Finance Committee recommendation regarding easement payment. It is the responsibility of the Vestry as governing body of this church to decide what to do with the remaining $60K (since $5K is going back to equity account). Marj pointed out that we had a $5K deficit at the end of 2018 and a $10K deficit at the end of 2017. It is the recommendation of the Finance Committee that the fiscally responsible thing to do is set aside the $60K. The money can either be saved in a bank account or under the canons of the church it is legal to put money of this type into an investment structure. Marj indicated that it was the recommendation of the Finance Committee to invest through Morgan Stanley in a low/lower risk strategy. The account activity would be reported out monthly.

There were questions and discussion about the liquidity of the reserves. Currently we have $30K in reserves in a bank account. These reserves are easily accessible and would cover the currently projected deficit. The $60K would be considered a back-up reserve. In an investment account it would be accessible within a week or two.

It was M/S/C (Applegate/Hambly): The Vestry directs the Finance Committee and the Rector to meet with Morgan Stanley to invest the money that we received from Discovery Builders.

Audit. Marj reported that the auditor from the diocese was here in December to conduct the annual audit, which took approximately 5 hours. The auditor found that bank statements have not been reconciled properly. This is a requirement of the Diocese. A plan is now in place to reconcile 2018 bank statements and, from this point forward, reconcile monthly. Another finding had to do with an unidentifiable error that was discovered two years ago when we switched accounting systems. The auditor is researching how to make an adjustment to bring the books into balance. We now have in place a system (QuickBooks) in which this type of error will not happen. A number of things have been remedied since the previous audit. For example, Rev. Deb noted that we are now in compliance with facilities management policies of the Diocese. Some user groups are no longer renting from us due to the changes. The Diocese will be sending us the official audit report.

Update on Pledges. Paula provided an update on pledges, noting that last year there were 46 pledges totaling $139K. For 2019, 51 pledges have been received to date, totaling $141K.

OLD BUSINESS

UPDATE ON MINISTRY TEAMS (SWEEPS)

Service

Outreach. Connie reported on the January 6 Outreach Committee meeting. There were 5 in attendance. Items of discussed:

  • Kindness Kits continue to be deferred for now since we are collecting donations for C.O.R.E.
  • The committee is interested in learning more about Sacred Space, an official mission church of the diocese, that involves a rotation of churches to provide food and prayer sessions to people every week at two locations in Oakland and Hayward
  • The committee would like to recruit a youth member to set up service projects
  • Spirit of Giving drive provided gifts to 35 people in 12 families. A thank you letter from CCIH is posted on the bulletin board in the Parish Hall.

Education

Rev. Deb reported that Wednesday Bible Study is following along with the Good Book Club’s Epiphany study of Romans, and is available for anyone to follow along. The readings and resources are available at www.goodbookclub.org. Godly play continues, with a plan to have the children do a Godly Play sermon quarterly on Family Sundays. Youth Group meets on Sunday, January 27, in the evening for Game Night.  There are a couple of youth who will be attending the MLK overnight at the cathedral, January 20-21.

Evangelism 

Rev. Deb reported that she is working with Jane Ramsey, to share the writing of the weekly article to the Martinez Gazette Faith page. We have been getting positive feedback.

 Pastoral Care

Rev. Deb reported that Leslie Kolesa is doing great work assisting our families that have needs in finding babysitters, and Connie continues to do a great job helping people with the Casserole Patrol making sure people get fed. There are 38 names on the pastoral care list. That occupies a fair amount of Rev. Deb’s time. While she is out of town next week, Rev. Molly Haws and Rev. Walter Ramsey will be available for pastoral care. She has also met with Leslie, who has a handle on the practical pastoral care needs.

Parish Life

  • Stan reported that Trivia Night is on January 19.
  • Annual Meeting. This year there will be a reception following the 10am service for the Flaskerud baptism. After checking with Denise, Jennifer will let the vestry know if we need to bring additional food. Marj and Jennifer are scheduled as Coffee Hour Hosts and will take care of coffee set-up and clean-up.

 Stewardship

See Update on Pledges under Finance Committee section above.

Worship and Liturgy

Rev. Deb reported that the Worship and Liturgy Committee will be meeting tomorrow, January 10, at 1 p.m.

Fundraising. Rev. Deb indicated that since we now have a Parish Life Committee, we can focus on establishing a Fundraising Committee. This is in order to clearly separate what events are fellowship (no/low cost) and what events are for the purpose of fundraising. Rev. Deb opened it up for thoughts on how to establish a fundraising committee. Most immediate, the St. Patrick’s Day Dinner is coming up, and has always been designated a fundraiser. There was discussion and agreement that it will continue to be designated a fundraiser, overseen by Lynda (tickets and fundraising), with assistance from Stan (cooking). They will confer with Josh and Jes Senn about youth involvement. In the long run, though, we are still in need of a Fundraising Committee with a chair.

BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS

Buildings and Grounds. Les Marks and Rev. Deb reported:

  1. Lights on sign: Jim Maniatis and Les got the driveway sign lighted.
  2. Foundation:
    • We received an estimate and are contracted for them to begin work, at a cost of roughly $15K, to put in seven piers to keep the building from sliding down the hill. A generous parishioner has come forward to fund a portion of that amount.
    • Deb contacted the insurance company, and a structural engineer came out to do an inspection. The insurance company has notified us they will consider the claim.
    • It was pointed out that the amount needed for the foundation has not been authorized yet, (the vestry authorized Dick Evans to get an estimate). Rev. Deb noted that authorization in this case is not required; however, she requested and received verbal consent from the Vestry to move forward.
  3. Parish Hall Stairs (at back door of kitchen): Lynda indicated she has contacted the Eagle Coordinator of the Silverado Council (Boy Scouts of America.) There are five boys in the area looking to make Eagle. They would need to develop their own plans for the Eagle project. They can use basic outline of what we would like, but they have to develop it on their own. Lynda will connect them with Jim Maniatis.
  4. Gutters have been installed, and they are directing the water away from the building down the hill. Insurance payment has been received, and it was for more than it cost us.
  5. Parking lot: Dick has been working on that. Rev. Deb indicated that he was going to get an estimate but she distracted him with the foundation project.

 OFFICE UDATE

Office Copier. Jennifer reported that the Lexmark printer/copier “died” just before Christmas. She had replaced the fuser but it wouldn’t reset, so it stopped working. Gary Spenik fixed it a few days later. In the meantime, we were able to get bulletins printed for the three Christmas services from another source. We have been working with KBA Docusys to acquire a printer under a 36-month lease. We have costed out the difference between what has been spent on the Lexmark (toner, photoconducters, etc.) the past 18 months, versus a lease that would cover service and supplies and found that there would be an annual savings $1,000/year. There was verbal consent to move ahead with the copier lease.

 Reports for Annual Meeting. Rev. Deb has emailed all chairs to submit reports for the Annual Meeting – due by January 23. She indicated that we will not be printing hard copies of the meeting packet. There will be a link on the church website for those who want to download and print hard copies. Everything will be displayed in a PowerPoint presentation at the meeting.

Bylaws review regarding elections. Rev. Deb presented two sections of the Bylaws of Grace Episcopal Parish that she recommends be updated. The language is either confusing or no longer accurate.  The current language from the two sections is as follows:

Article I, Section 3

“All members of the Vestry shall be baptized lay persons, who in fact pledge, are qualified to vote at Parish meetings, and a majority of them shall be communicants of the Parish.”

 Article II, Section 5

“There shall be a nominating committee composed of those members of the Vestry who, on January First before the Parish Meeting shall have completed less than two years or more than one year of service. If this number is less than three, additional members may be appointed by the Senior warden. The formation of the committee shall be announced to all individuals and organizations of the Parish in order that recommendations be presented to the Vestry by the committee for approval. From the recommended list, the committee, with the concurrence of the individuals concerned, will present the required number of names to the Annual Parish Meeting, at which time additional nominations may be accepted from the floor. With the Approval of the Vestry, the committee at its discretion, may present to the Parish less than a full slate, in which case additional nominations shall be made from the floor; or more than a full slate, in which case the election will decide the new members of the Vestry.”

There was lengthy discussion. There was consensus on several points with the agreement that Rev. Deb reword specific areas, make revisions, and send to the Vestry in an email and vestry members cast their votes on the revisions in a reply to the email. The intent is to have the changes to these Articles of the Bylaws in place prior to the January 27th Annual Parish Meeting.

The points for revision/rewording are as follows:

Article I, Section 3

  • “communicants of the Parish” change to “attend services regularly (i.e. average of once per month)”
  • Delete “who in fact pledge” and keep “shall be baptized lay persons”

 Article II, Section 5

  • Rewrite definition of nominating committee so it’s clearer.
  • Rewrite the process for nominating individuals.
  • Retain but rewrite the options for determining the number of nominees on the slate.

 Other outcomes from the Bylaws discussion:

Concerning the January 27, 2019, annual meeting and slate of Vestry candidates for election. There was consensus to have all candidates move forward, if they want to move forward, with the proviso that they are informed it is a contested election.

Concerning the selection of Junior Warden. The canons say that the Junior Warden is elected by the Vestry after the annual meeting from among the members of the Vestry.

NEW BUSINESS

 Rev. Deb’s Absence and Coverage. Rev. Deb will be gone January 12 – 21, 2019. The Rev. Molly Haws will cover the two Sunday services (1/13 and 1/20), the Wednesday service on 1/16, pastoral care, and she represent Grace at the Amen! Exhibit at the Martinez Museum. The parish office will have her contact information.

 Expenditure Approval Process. Rev. Deb indicated that all expenditures, except Altar Guild flowers, need to be approved by her ahead of time. This includes committee/ministry chairs, even if funds are marked as designated for that purpose, the expenditure must get pre-approval.

Thanks to retiring Vestry members. Rev. Deb expressed gratitude and appreciation to the outgoing Vestry members, Stan Applegate, Sally Hanson, and Les Marks. She presented each of them with a gift.

 CLOSING PRAYER

Deacon Walter led the blessing.

ADJOURNMENT

The meeting was adjourned at 7:00 p.m.

 Respectfully submitted,

Jennifer Sabroe, Clerk

December 2018 Vestry Minutes

Grace Episcopal Church, Martinez, California
Unadopted Minutes of Vestry Meeting, December 12, 2018

Present: The Reverend Dr. Deborah White (Rector), Les Marks (Jr. Warden), Stan Applegate (Sr. Warden), Josh Senn, Paula Menconi (Treasurer), Lynda Dyer, Pat Hambly, Ron Luttringer, The Rev. Walter Ramsey (Deacon)
Absent:   Sally Hanson, Connie Towey

Call to Order and Opening Prayer: The meeting was called to order at 5:01 p.m. by Rev. Deb, who led the opening prayer.

BIBLE STUDY: Old Habits

CONSENT AGENDA
It was M/S/C (Applegate/Marks) to approve the consent agenda packet.

OLD BUSINESS

UPDATE ON MINISTRY TEAMS (SWEEPS)
Stewardship: Rev. Deb reported that we have been letting pledges trickle in. Paula Menconi reported that we have received 45 pledges so far. This is 10 thousand dollars less than last year. Paula and Rev. Deb will review the names of folks who pledged last year and who have not pledged yet and
Vestry members will be assigned to do follow-up calls. All were agreeable.

Worship and Liturgy: Rev. Deb reported that the Worship and Liturgy will meet tomorrow. The committee’s suggestion not to have an all-parish meeting about noise in liturgy was respected. Instead, Rev. Deb educated the parish about sacred space. In addition, acolytes were asked (Lynda Dyer) to
bring the Godly Play children in a bit later and more quietly; and liturgical servers (Eucharistic Ministers, acolytes, clergy) will remain in the chancel during the peace to set an example. (Rev. Deb will ask John Lee to send out a request). This appears to have worked as the noise level at
both services has gone down.

Parish Life: Stan Applegate reported that Amy Eudy is doing a great job as Chair of Parish Life and the Pasta Dinner went well. The dessert auction raised enough money to cover the upcoming Trivia Night, which is all set to go.
Thanksgiving at Grace was a big success. Pat Hambly reported that there were approximately 40 people and lots of excellent food. The consensus seems to be to do it again next year as a potluck.

Buildings and Grounds: Rev. Deb reported that the easement agreement between Grace and Discovery has been signed. They now have 3 days to put $65,000 into escrow and 5 days after that to wire it to us. The fee is
non-refundable, regardless of what happens with the development.
Les Marks, Junior Warden, provided an update on Buildings and Grounds concerns:
Outside Pantry and corner foundation. A repair plan has been developed and Les has stabilized the kitchen and pantry doors. Dick Evans is getting an estimate from a contractor for insurance purposes.
Parish Hall sliding door/stairs. The sliding door at the northwest end of the Parish Hall is complete. Jim Maniatis did the work at cost. The outside stairs still need to be installed. Work is in progress. Lynda Dyer has approached several Boy Scouts working toward their Eagle status if they would be interested in completing Eagle projects at Grace.
Kitchen Floor. The floor at the entrance to the kitchen (from the parish hall) is cracked. The B&G committee does not recommend a full repair until the issue of the foundation under the kitchen has been dealt with.
Gutters. The gutters have been replaced. Rev. Deb is still working on the insurance claim. (
Parking Lot. Dick Evans is obtaining an estimate for sealing the parking lot.
Rev. Deb checked in about the Vestry Person of the Day (VPOD) schedule and duty list. Les found one typo, which Rev. Deb will fix.
Rev. Deb asked about lights for the foot of the driveway. Les indicated that the wiring already runs that far; we just need to put the lights in. Rev. Deb will check in with Jim Maniatis. Stan suggested that the Buildings and Grounds committee look at putting more stable fencing behind the Parish Hall as the sharp slope is a hazard with children playing there.

Service
St. Christopher’s Guild. Pat reported on St. Christopher’s Guild. She said that the recent Christmas Luncheon and White Elephant was a success. $1800 was earned. The group will meet Sunday to determine how the money will be disseminated to service organizations. Connie Towey reported (through Rev. Deb) that St. Christopher’s has a current balance of $5,914.31 in
their account. Paula will insert this figure into our budget reporting.

Outreach:  Rev. Deb reported that the Outreach committee had a very fruitful meeting, which included a discussion of the projects that happened in 2018 and plans for 2019. The group talked about making sure that the number and scope of projects was consistent with the size of the parish.
Evangelism: Rev. Deb reported that Jane Ramsey has been writing articles for the Martinez Gazette faith page. She is doing a great job. Rev. Deb has ordered new, more streamlined Grace brochures and welcome cards, as well as handbills for Christmas services. She reiterated that she would like to
see an Evangelism committee at Grace.

Education: The Advent Women Bible study has begun. Plans to expand Adult Education are currently on hold.

Pastoral Care: Leslie Kolesa is doing a great job coordinating the Pastoral Care Committee, which includes Casserole Patrol, Eucharistic Visitors, and communicating with Rev. Deb. The current Pastoral
Care list is at 37. The holidays are really hard for many people.

OFFICE UDATE: Online Directory and Online Giving
Parish Administrator Jennifer Sabroe is preparing the launch.

Hospitality: Hospitality Committee plans remain on hold because the chair has been incapacitated. Tina Reich is doing better, so we hope that this will be organized soon.

Annual Meeting: Rev. Deb reminded the Vestry that the Annual Meeting will be held on January 27, 2019. At that time, we will elect three new Vestry members. The “middler” class (Lynda, Pat, and Ron) reported that they have been talking to people about joining the Vestry and/or being Deanery/Diocesan Convention Representatives. There was some discussion. Rev. Deb reminded outgoing Vestry members that their term does not end until after the Annual Meeting, so they should plan to attend the January Vestry meeting. This is important because the budget needs to
be approved prior to the Annual Meeting.

NEW BUSINESS
Rev. Deb Housing Allowance: Rev. Deb introduced her 2019 Housing Allowance Resolution. Federal tax law allows Rev. Deb
to claim part of her salary as a housing allowance and the Vestry must approve the amount prior to year’s end. It was M/S/C (Hambly/Dyer) to approve the housing allowance.

Rev. Deb travel: Rev. Deb thanked the Vestry for granting her time to go to Connecticut to visit her mother, who is doing better. Rev. Deb will return to CT in January to help her mom move. The Vestry previously approved this travel request.

Budget: Rev. Deb reported that when the final pledge reminder calls are completed, we will have all of the components needed to assemble the budget. Marj Leeds is going to draft something, then the Finance Committee will meet, and then Rev. Deb will meet with the Finance Committee. The
budget will be presented to the Vestry at the January meeting.

Lynda Dyer requested $100 for new toys for the nursery. The old ones are neither safe nor attractive. It was M/S/C (Hambly/Senn) to budget $100 for new toys.

CLOSING PRAYER
Deacon Walter led the closing prayer.

ADJOURNMENT
The meeting was adjourned at 6:07 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
The Rev. Dr. Deborah White, Rector and Clerk Pro-tem

November 2018 Vestry Minutes

Grace Episcopal Church  Martinez, California  Unadopted Minutes of Vestry Meeting November14, 2018

 

Present:       The Reverend Dr. Deborah White (Rector), Les Marks (Jr. Warden), Paula Menconi (Treasurer), Lynda Dyer, Pat Hambly, Sally Hanson,  Ron Luttringer, Connie Towey, The Rev. Walter Ramsey (Deacon)

Absent:        Stan Applegate (Sr. Warden), Josh Senn

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

Peter’s Vision

CONSENT AGENDA

Les Marks noted that the date of today’s meeting agenda was incorrect. It was M/S/C (Marks/Hambly) to approve the consent agenda packet with this correction.

OLD BUSINESS

UPDATE ON MINISTRY TEAMS (SWEEPS)

Stewardship

Paula reported that the stewardship campaign is drawing to a close. She said that we have received 31 pledges so far. There was brief discussion on the new format used for the campaign this year. Further discussion was tabled until next month when we have a tally of the pledges received.

Service

St. Christopher’s Guild. Pat reported on St. Christopher’s Guild. The recent meetings with Rev. Deb appear to have alleviated fears that St. Christopher’s Guild is being disbanded. The group has agreed to submit their financial status on a monthly basis for review by the Vestry. Paula reported that she has already received one statement.

Outreach. Connie reported on the November 4 Outreach meeting. There was discussion about Downtown Grace. Denise visited a program that another church does on two weeknights and was impressed. Rev. Deb opined that it would be best if we could use a model from our denomination and recommended Sacred Space.  Denise said she will set up a field trip to see what they are doing in Oakland/Hayward. Scott Williams will speak on homelessness in Martinez at the November Faithful Forum on Sunday. A second cart full of items for CORE was blessed on Sunday and will be distributed this week. The CCIH Season of Giving program is in full swing. All of the tags from the giving tree were taken and gifts are coming in now.

Evangelism  

Rev. Deb reported that Jane Ramsey has been writing articles for the Martinez Gazette faith page. She is doing a great job.

Worship and Liturgy

Sally reported on the most recent Worship and Liturgy meeting. The committee recommended against an all-parish meeting about noise in liturgy, suggesting instead that Rev. Deb seek to educate the parish about sacred space. Rev. Deb read an article she has written to go into Grace Notes and the bulletin. There was discussion. One suggestion was to move the announcements to the beginning of the service so that the Peace feels less like “intermission.” There was discussion. It was decided that we would not try this out yet. Instead, Rev. Deb’s article will run in GN and the bulletin; she will make an announcement about it at both services; acolytes will be asked (Lynda Dyer to speak to Don Dyer) to bring the Godly Play children in a bit later and more quietly; and liturgical servers (Eucharistic Ministers, acolytes, clergy) will remain in the chancel during the peace to set an example. (Rev. Deb will ask John Lee to send out a request). We can re-evaluate at next month’s meeting to see if there has been any change.

Parish Life

Rev. Deb reported that Amy Eudy is doing a great job as Chair of Parish Life and all is in readiness for Saturday’s Pasta Dinner. We are making it clear that there is a difference between Parish Life (free) events and fundraising events. We still don’t have a fundraising chair.

BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS

Buildings and Grounds

Rev. Deb reported on the easement.  Negotiations have continued with the added partners of the City of Martinez and the title company, which will hold the escrow. Rev. Deb hopes the easement agreement will be signed by year’s end, but she is most concerned with protecting the church. She has communicated to Discovery Builders that if the easement agreement is not finalized by the end of the year, we will probably need to re-negotiate as our legal fees are getting to be too much and we will have a new Vestry in January.

Les Marks, Junior Warden, provided an update on Buildings and Grounds concerns:

 Outside Pantry and corner foundation. A repair plan has been developed and Les has stabilized the kitchen and pantry doors.

Parish Hall sliding door/stairs. The sliding door at the northwest end of the parish hall is complete. Jim Maniatis did the work at cost. The outside stairs still need to be installed. Work is in progress. Funds for the stairs are already set aside.

Kitchen Floor. The floor at the entrance to the kitchen (from the parish hall) is cracked. The B&G committee does not recommend a full repair until the issue of the foundation under the kitchen has been dealt with, but Rev. Deb has asked for at least a cosmetic fix for safety reasons.

 

Gutters. The gutters have been replaced. Rev. Deb is still working on the insurance claim.

Parking Lot. Rev. Deb reported that Dick Evans strongly recommends that the parking lot be sealed before the rainy season. This was tabled at the last meeting. It was M/S/C (Luttringer/Menconi) to get an estimate for sealing the parking lot. The motion passed.

Les indicated that Vestry members would like a list of duties for the VPOD. Rev. Deb said she would put one together. Les recommended making sure it includes:

  • Turning off the light in the stained glass window near the chamber organ (this is done by shutting off Breaker #18
  • Making sure the doors near that window are secured.

Rev. Deb reported that there is apparently a rumor going around Martinez that Grace will be putting housing for homeless folks on our upper lot. She said she had assured the city that we are very early in our discernment process about how to develop that lot and that, regardless of what we decide to do, we will consult with the city first.

Education

Bible Study and Faithful Forums have been set up into early 2019.

Pastoral Care

Leslie Kolesa is doing a great job coordinating the Pastoral Care Committee, which includes Casserole Patrol, Eucharistic Visitors, and communicating with Rev. Deb.

OFFICE UDATE

Online Directory and Online Giving

Rev. Deb reported that thanks to hard work by Jennifer, Marj, and Paula, we have selected a company to use for an online directory. It does not have online giving itself, but works with a company that does. The cost will be $480 per year. Ron asked about the transaction fee for online giving.

Hospitality

Hospitality Committee plans have been on hold because the chair has been incapacitated. Tina Reich is doing better, so we hope that this will be organized soon.

NEW BUSINESS

Annual Meeting

Rev. Deb reminded the Vestry that the Annual Meeting will be held on January 27, 2019.  At that time, we will elect three new Vestry members. The “middler” class of the Vestry (Lynda, Pat, and Ron) serve as the nominations committee. We will also elect representatives to the Deanery/Diocesan Convention. Rev. Deb noted that there is an announcement in Grace Notes about the upcoming elections that encourages people to consider running for a position. There was some discussion. Rev. Deb reminded outgoing Vestry members that their term does not end until the Annual Meeting, so they should plan to attend the January Vestry meeting.

Goat Yoga

Rev. Deb reported that Goat Yoga has been put on hold because Don (our neighbor with the goats) is concerned that the goats could not be controlled to a safe extent. He will consider ways we might make it work in the new year.

Rev. Deb travel request

Rev. Deb reported that her mother, who is 91, is moving and is currently in the hospital so she would like to go see her in January to help her move. This would require Rev. Deb to take off two Sundays in a row, which she has never done.  The timing for this is good since The Rev. Molly Haws is available to supply when Rev. Deb is away. The Vestry approved her request by acclamation.

CLOSING PRAYER

Deacon Walter led the closing prayer.

ADJOURNMENT

The meeting was adjourned at 6:40 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

The Rev. Dr. Deborah White, Rector and Clerk Pro-tem

Addendum

Rev. Deb reports that she forgot to tell the Vestry that our attendance was 119 last Sunday.

 

October 2018 Vestry minutes

Grace Episcopal Church  Martinez, California

Minutes of Vestry Meeting October 10, 2018

 

Present: The Reverend Dr. Deborah White (Rector), Stan Applegate (Sr. Warden), Paula Menconi (Treasurer), Lynda Dyer, Pat Hambly, Sally Hanson, Josh Senn, Connie Towey, The Rev. Walter Ramsey, Jennifer Sabroe (Clerk)

Absent:   Les Marks, Ron Luttringer

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  

How do you reconcile God’s promise of provision with the reality of the poverty of so many faithful Christians in the world? How do you see your own responsibility to those who are in need? Do you ever doubt God’s provision in your own life? Why? What usually changes your mind when you’re feeling that way?

CONSENT AGENDA

It was M/S/C (Hambly/Towey) to approve: the September 12, 2018 vestry meeting minutes; Rector’s report; Junior Warden’s report; Treasurer’s report.

OLD BUSINESS

UPDATE ON MINISTRY TEAMS (SWEEPS)

Service

Outreach. Connie reported on the October 7 Outreach Committee meeting: Kindness Kits discussion has been tabled until January; (Grace team) Loaves and Fishes continues every third Wednesday of the month; School backpacks for Martinez Jr. High students have been delivered, and next year Marj Leeds will track donations as they come in to provide updates on items still needed; Spirit of Giving will kick off on October 21, with Jennifer Sabroe and Dru Grissom coordinating; Downtown Grace is still in the long-term planning phase; Youth Group will provide dinner to residents of Garden Park apartments (a CCIH community) on October 11; Scott Williams will speak on homelessness in Martinez at the November Faithful Forum; there was discussion of a winter clothing drive run by Passion to the Streets Inc. with consensus that Grace Outreach this would not be an official project as it overlaps with other projects already in place.

St. Christopher’s Guild. Rev. Deb reported on her meeting with St. Christopher’s Guild, where she presented information, answered questions, and generated discussion about the changes we are experiencing as we transition from a family-sized parish to a pastoral-sized parish, covering the areas of:

  • communication
  • financial management
  • infrastructure
  • difficulty of change

There was discussion.

 

Rev. Deb had noted that St. Christopher’s is an organization of outreach, parish life, and fundraising. So it doesn’t fit under any particular SWEEPS category but there are a lot of gifts and talents in St. Christopher’s that would benefit the church’s committees in those areas. For example, in response to a question about fundraising earlier in the meeting, Rev. Deb indicated that she has asked members of St. Christopher’s who feel called to do Outreach to attend the Outreach Committee meetings, and bring their expertise. In the same way, there is a wealth of knowledge and expertise in St. Christopher’s for fundraising. We are still looking for someone to head up a Fundraising Committee.

It was also noted that Rev. Deb will be asking St. Christopher’s to report their finances regularly.

Education

Rev. Deb reported she is working on a plan to do an online Christian Education program, that can be streamed live. This would benefit people who are unable to attend a class or group session during the day due to work or other commitments.   

Stewardship

Paula reported that speakers will present information on several stewardship topics at each Sunday service through mid-November.  Rev. Deb added that the stewardship letter with pledge cards will be mailed out soon.

Evangelism  

Rev. Deb reported that Pat Corr has stepped down from publicity. Since then Rev. Deb has been writing articles for the Martinez Gazette faith page. Rev. Deb also noted that Goat Yoga is coming soon.

Worship and Liturgy

Sally reported that the Worship and Liturgy Committee will be meeting the next day at 1 p.m. All are welcome.

Liturgical change. Rev. Deb reported on the meeting with the 8 o’clock congregation, and other interested parties, between services on September 23. She provided information on how we do liturgy here at Grace, how it has been historically done, how the Episcopal Church thinks of liturgy and what the options are for the 8:00 service. She extended an invitation for individuals to respond to their Worship and Liturgy representative or to attend the next Worship and Liturgy meeting.

Service of Healing. There will be a Healing Service for victims of sexual assault and abuse on Saturday, October 13.

Baptism date change. The Kleinschmit twins’ baptisms have been moved from All Saints (Nov. 4) to October 21. Shannon Kleinschmit is being deployed.

Altar Guild is in dire need of volunteers. It has been added to the stewardship announcement.

Parish Life

Oktoberfest. Stan reported that Walter (Ramsey) and John (Heyse) are working on the menu. Set up will take place on Saturday morning. Help is needed for set-up and clean-up. To date there are 58 reservations/tickets sold.

Pastoral Care

Leslie Kolesa will coordinate the Pastoral Care Committee, which includes Casserole Patrol, Eucharistic Visitors, and coordinating with Rev. Deb.  Rev. Deb provided information on pastoral care needs.

BUILDINGS AND GROUNDS

Easement

The Diocese has approved the easement. We are now waiting on the developer to sign papers. Once that is done, the easement document and money will go into escrow. When the developer gives us the start date, the money goes into our bank account, and once the money is verified in our account, the developer can begin work. It has cost us $5K in attorney fees, and that amount was added on to the total due from the developer.

Dick’s List

On behalf of Dick Evans, Buildings and Grounds Committee, Rev. Deb presented a list of items (including cost estimates) that need to be attended to:

Outside Pantry and corner foundation $300

Parish Hall sliding door/stairs. The sliding door at the northwest end of the parish hall is complete. Jim Maniatis did the work at cost. The outside stairs still need to be installed. Work is in progress. Funds for the stairs are already set aside.

Kitchen Floor. The floor at the entrance to the kitchen (from the parish hall) is cracked. It will require repair. No estimate yet.  

Parish Hall. The parish hall is sinking. The foundation is cracked and starting to come apart, due to the slippage occurring on the north hillside – the building is responding. The ideal fix would cost $50K. Jim Maniatis and Dick Evans met with a consultant, and they have a plan for a temporary fix at a cost of $800.

Gutters. The copper gutters located on the north side of the kitchen were stolen a while ago. An insurance claim was never filed at the time. Rev. Deb is trying to file a claim now. Gutters need to be installed along that side of the roof. No estimate yet.

Parking Lot. Rev. Deb reported that Dick Evans strongly recommends that the parking lot be sealed before the rainy season. Estimate $800-900.

It was M/S/C (Towey/Hanson) to authorize up to $2K for fixes to pantry, parish hall, kitchen floor, and the gutters (if insurance doesn’t reimburse for stolen copper gutters). [Note: Does not include parking lot seal coat.]

OFFICE UDATE

Online Directory and Online Giving

Jennifer is still researching, and we are getting closer.

Facility Rentals

We have raised rates for facility use and are tightening up on documentation we are required to have from user groups, specifically the document needed for IRS 501(c) verification.  

Hospitality

Hospitality Committee plans have been on hold because the chair has been incapacitated.

VPOD redux

This item was tabled at the last meeting. There was discussion of a VPOD schedule. It was suggested that for those who attend 10 a.m., to check with Erik Wernes and Chandra Damele to confirm they will open the church. VPODs can arrange a delegate to do the physical responsibilities, but still responsible for ensuring it’s covered. Responsibilities are for opening and securing the church buildings. No moving furniture or cleaning floors. If there is a big mess, ask for help to clean up.  

Side note: Rev. Deb indicated that the cleaning service has been rescheduled from Fridays to Mondays.

It was M/S/C (Applegate/Dyer) begin a VPOD (Vestry Person of the Day) program.   

NEW BUSINESS

Welcome Molly Haws

The Rev. Molly Haws is a priest of the diocese and not associated with a parish, which the diocese requires. Molly lives in Martinez, and has asked to be associated with Grace. In order to keep up on her skills, she will preach every two months. She will be supply clergy when Rev. Deb is away. Molly’s title will be Assisting Priest. She will sit in the congregation when she is not serving. There is no cost for this arrangement.

All Parish meeting re noise

Rev. Deb has heard concern about noise in church (not just children). She will schedule an all parish meeting to talk about it, but at a time when our schedule is not so tight.

Diocesan Convention will take place October 19-20.

CLOSING PRAYER

Deacon Walter led the closing prayer.

ADJOURNMENT

The meeting was adjourned at 6:40 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Jennifer Sabroe, Clerk

End of Life Planning Project

The Grace Worship and Liturgy Committee would like to encourage all of Grace’s parishioners to complete their advanced healthcare directive, will or trust, financial planning, funeral arrangements, final instructions and memorial gift planning. Death and dying can be difficult issues to discuss, but it is a great blessing to our loved ones when we plan ahead for our own eventual death. This is especially true for families whose members are of different faiths (or no faith). To that end, we have developed resources about funerals in the Episcopal Church, advance directives, and memorial gifts to the church. These packets are now available in the Narthex and the Parish Hall. You can also find them below. It is our hope that each parishioner will complete a planning packet and provide a copy of it to the church office.

Advance-Directives Q and A Issue fnl

Family Records Organizer Review fnl

Grace Church and DioCal Planned Giving Options Issue fnl

Grace Church Funeral Service Planning Full Page (fnl)

ProbateCodeAdvancedHealthCareDirectiveForm

Five Scenarios to use in Advance Directive Section 2 expansion (fnl)