Minutes of January 8, 2020 Vestry Meeting

Present:  The Reverend Dr. Deborah White (Rector), Lynda Dyer (Sr. Warden), Josh Senn (Jr. Warden), Connie Towey, Pat Hambly, Christina Reich, Stephanie Zichichi

Absent:  Betty Case

Guests:  Marj Leeds (Treasurer), Jennifer Sabroe (Clerk)

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 5:04 p.m. and led in prayer by Rev. Deb.

 Bible Study. Micah 6:6-8. The group read and discussed the passage.

 Consent Agenda. It was M/S/C (Reich/Hambly) to approve the consent agenda items: Minutes of December Vestry meeting; Rector’s Report; Treasurer’s Report

 Approval of Budget. It was M/S/C (Towey/Dyer) to approve the proposed budget for 2020.

Review Final Bylaws. The revised Bylaws (approved at the December meeting) document was reviewed. Stephanie Zichichi had cleared the document of mark-ups from the editing process.

Junior Warden appointment. It was M/S/C (Zichichi/Hambly) to elect Josh Senn as Junior Warden.

 Vestry Nominations. Connie Towey and Josh Senn provided an update on nominees to the upcoming Vestry election at the Annual Meeting. Nominees to be elected by acclamation: Amelia Brooks, Betty Case, Jane Ramsey. Candidates to fill vacant unexpired terms: Sally Hanson and David Kennedy. These will be confirmed as Rector’s appointments.

Annual Meeting agenda. Rev. Deb reported that the annual meeting agenda will include presentation of the 2020 budget, Vestry elections, and the Rector’s Report which will focus on the pastoral-size church model and implementing a discernment process for the destiny of the upper lot.

 Thanks to retiring Vestry members.   Rev. Deb expressed her thanks and appreciation to outgoing vestry members Lynda Dyer, Pat Hambly, Jim Maniatis, and Paula Menconi.

Closing Prayer and Adjournment. The meeting adjourned at 6 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Jennifer Sabroe, Clerk

Updated Episcopal Church Statement on Iran

Amid escalating tensions between Iran and the United States following the strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, The Episcopal Church continues to be guided by the teaching of Jesus Christ, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” We affirm that, “It is crucial in this time of instability and threat of violence that our government and our neighbors seek diplomatic and humanitarian solutions rather than violence.” We pray for wisdom, restraint, and divine guidance for our leaders and decision makers, that they can move us away from violence and conflict and towards mutual understanding.”

December 2019 Vestry Minutes

Grace Episcopal Church  Martinez, California

Unadopted Minutes of Vestry Meeting

December 11, 2019

 

Present:  The Reverend Dr. Deborah White (Rector), Lynda Dyer (Sr. Warden), Betty Case, Connie Towey, Pat Hambly, Christina Reich, Stephanie Zichichi (left at 6:30pm)

Absent:  Josh Senn, Paula Menconi, Jim Maniatis (Jr. Warden)

Guests:  The Rev. Walter Ramsey, Jennifer Sabroe (Clerk), Jack Case

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 5:04 p.m. and led in prayer by Rev. Deb.

 Bible Study. Isaiah 42:5-12,16.  The group read and discussed the passage about change.

 Consent Agenda. It was M/S/C (Hambly/Towey) to approve the consent agenda: Minutes of November Vestry meeting; Rector’s Report; Treasurer’s Report and Senior Warden’s Report.

It was noted in the Rector’s Report that Paula Menconi and Jim Maniatis have resigned from the vestry due to health reasons.

 OLD BUSINESS

  1. Finances (Treasurer; Stewardship report, Rector and Music Directory Salary approvals; Rector’s Housing Resolution Approval and Proposed Budget)
    1. The vestry reviewed the proposed budget and the treasurer’s comments. Less money going out than we expected and more income coming in. Pledges up approximately $14K from 2019; preliminary agreement to rent upper lot to Las Trampas brings in $9600/year; Reverend Deb has deferred her 5 year longevity raise until 2021 budget (because she does not hit her longevity mark until December 2020); Diocesan assessment went down, when we anticipated it would go up; Parish Administrator position is funded for 10 months (new hire expected in Spring). Deficit is still at $16K.

Marj Leeds has agreed to be our Treasurer since Paula Menconi has resigned. She is still working on the budget to present for formal adoption at the January vestry meeting. It will then be presented to the congregation at the Annual Meeting on January 26, 2020.

The vestry approved The Rev. Dr. Deborah White’s annual salary, increased to $86,000. M/S/C (Reich/Towey)

The vestry approved Music Director Arthur Omura’s annual salary, increased to $16,800. M/S/C (Hambly/Dyer)

The vestry approved Housing Resolution as stated, and as appears below. M/S/C (Reich/Towey).

Housing Resolution for The Rev. Dr. Deborah White, Rector, 2020

WHEREAS the Rev. Dr. Deborah White is employed as a minister of the Gospel by Grace Episcopal Church, Martinez, California, which does not provide a residence for her, the vestry resolves that of the total compensation of $86,000.00 to be paid to The Rev. Dr. Deborah White during 2020, that $50,160.00 be designated a parsonage allowance within the meaning of that term as used in Section 107 of the IRS code of 1986.

  1. Updates on Ministry Teams
    1. Service (Outreach) – Pat Hambly reported on the December 8 Outreach meeting where our participation in the Contra Costa Interfaith Winter Nights Family Shelter program is being planned. Members of Grace will team with other faith partners to provide meals January 2-5 at First Congregational Church in Pittsburg. Leads are in place for dinner planning, but more helpers are needed to assist with prep, clean up and activities. Information and sign-up sheets will be available at December 15 SWEEPS Fair. Nate Brooks will represent Outreach at the SWEEPS Fair. The third Sunday special offering for the Rector’s Discretionary Fund for this month will be set aside to help cover the costs of our Winter Nights participation (non-perishable supplies and dinner supplies). It was reported that the next meeting of the Martinez Interfaith Housing committee will be on January 23, 2020, at 6:30 p.m. at Martinez City Hall. Deacon Walter reported on the Deacon’s Pantry. Jennifer Sabroe gave a recap of the Spirit of Giving drive.
    2. Worship – Worship and Liturgy will meet tomorrow to work on planning for Epiphany. Family Sunday this Sunday; Wednesday, December 18, 7 p.m. Evensong; December 24, Christmas Eve 5 p.m. pageant, 10:30 p.m. late service;  December 25, 10 a.m. Christmas Day; December 29 10 a.m. Lessons and Carols (Holy Eucharist at 8 a.m.)
    3. Education – Lynda Dyer reported that a cabinet with a lock is being considered for the Nursery to contain toys and supplies. She has reminded parents to clean up the room if it has been used. Lynda will help with the pageant, noting that costume changes should be minimal. Regarding the kids’ activity backpacks in the church, she has been keeping up with them but noted that a new person will need to step in once she and Don move. Rev. Deb reported on the current topic in Bible Study is using “Thrill of Hope: The Christmas Story in Word and Art” DVDs. Rev. Deb reported that she’s working on Faithful Forums for 2020.
    4. Evangelism-Welcome – Christina Reich reported the next meeting of the Welcoming Committee will be Tuesday, December 17, 4 p.m. She and Liz Charlton have been working on the welcoming packet as well as procedures to assist and support Rev. Deb with newcomers. Coffee Hour is going well, she will have a table at SWEEPS Fair.  Lynda reported that the nametags are ready, but a display board is needed to store them, and is working on a solution with the plan to “go live” in January. In response to a question about publicity, Tina offered to have information at the SWEEPS Fair about the need for a publicity and social media person.
    5. Pastoral Care – Connie Towey reported on current pastoral needs. Rev. Deb provided an update on pastoral care.
    6. Parish Life – No update.
  2. Stewardship (Buildings and Grounds/Jr. Warden) Deb reported on the resignation of the Jr. Warden, Jim Maniatis, and noted that Josh Senn has agreed to step into this role for the balance of his term.
  3. Nursery Hire Krista Stahlheber

The vestry approved the hiring of Krista Stahlheber as Nursery Attendant, at a rate of $20/hour, with a cap of $2,000 per year. M/S/C (Dyer/Towey)

  1. By-laws review. Working draft from Tina and Connie and working draft with Rev. Deb’s edits were reviewed by the vestry. Stephanie Zichichi noted a few clerical errors and offered to generate the final copy.

The vestry accepted the By-Laws with clerical changes only — no substantive changes. M/S/C (Hambly/Dyer)

  1. SWEEPS Ministry Fair Forum – Rev. Deb reported on the fair which will take place at the December 15 Faithful Forum, following the 10 a.m. service. (See other reports for mentions of SWEEPS Fair for more information.)
  2. Vestry Recruitment – Connie reported on progress regarding Vestry nominations for 2020. Amelia Brooks, Jane Ramsey, and Betty Case have agreed to run.  Connie has talked to Sally Hanson who has agreed to replace Paula. There was discussion of nominations and appointments for the various upcoming vacant seats.
  3. Thanksgiving follow-up. This year 50 people, from both Grace and the greater community attended. Will do again next year.
  4. James Beavore. Deb shared the good news update on James, our housing-challenged friend, who has been reunited with his family.
  5. Las Trampas rental. As noted in the Rector’s Report, Rev. Deb indicated that we have reached a preliminary agreement with Las Trampas Regional Center to rent our upper parking lot to them for $800 per month.

NEW BUSINESS

  1. Annual Meeting agenda.
    1. Discernment for upper lot. Rev Deb indicated she will bring up the discernment of the upper lot at the annual meeting.
  2. Thanks to retiring Vestry members. Deb expressed thanks to outgoing members, reminding that there is still one more meeting to attend! Lynda expressed her thanks and appreciation to everyone.

Next meeting January 15, 2020

Car on lot. Rev. Deb will forward the written agreement (between the vehicle owner and the church) to Lynda who will pursue further action.

Closing Prayer and Adjournment. The meeting adjourned at 6:36 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Jennifer Sabroe, Clerk

Minutes of the November 13 2019 Vestry Meeting

Present:  The Reverend Dr. Deborah White (Rector), Lynda Dyer (Sr. Warden) Betty Case, Josh Senn (departed at 6:36), Connie Towey, Pat Hambly, Stephanie Zichichi,

Absent:  Paula Menconi (excused), Christina Reich (excused), Jim Maniatis (Jr. Warden),

Guests:  The Rev. Walter Ramsey, Marj Leeds (Clerk pro-tem and Interim Treasurer), Jack Case, Liz Charlton

 Call to Order and Opening Prayer.  The meeting was called to order at 5:07 p.m. and led in prayer by Rev. Deb.

 Bible Study. 1 Corinthians 12:1-11.  The group read and discussed the passage about spiritual gifts.

 Consent Agenda. It was M/S/C (Towey/Case) to approve the consent agenda: Minutes of October Vestry meeting; Rector’s Report; Treasurer’s Report and Senior Warden’s Report.

 OLD BUSINESS

Stewardship (Building and Grounds) Stewardship – Marj Leeds made a presentation on the current financial status of the parish, including initial discussions regarding the 2020 budget

Follow-up on Michele Lynch legacy – Deb informed the Vestry that we received a check for a little over $89,000 from the estate of Michele Lynch. A motion was made to direct Marj Leeds to work with our advisor at Morgan Stanley on an investment strategy for the money M/S/C (Hambly/Zichichi)

Education Building Remodel Follow-up – The group agreed to table M/S/C (Towey/Case) this item based upon current finances.

Update on Ministry Teams

  1. Service (Outreach) – The Giving tree is up and going well with most of the gifts claimed. Walter reported on the Deacon’s Pantry.  We are sending representatives to the Interfaith Housing Coalition of Martinez.  Deb has been approached by the group to consider allowing the Church parking lot to be used for folks to park their cars overnight.  The concept is in initial stages with many more details to come.  The proposal would go to the Outreach Committee and then to the Vestry for decision and action.
  2. Worship – There is a meeting of Worship and Liturgy tomorrow to work on Advent, Christmas, Lessons and Carols, etc.
  3. Education – Lynda Dyer reported that things seem to be going well with Godly Play and Nursery. The backpacks in the Sanctuary have gone over very well.  New toys were purchased for the nursery; however they seem to be migrating.  Lynda said she is considering a storage cabinet.
  4. Evangelism-Welcome – Coffee Hour is scheduled through year end and the 2020 sign-up sheet will be posted soon. The committee is developing a new welcoming handbook.  Lynda Dyer passed out name tags to the Vestry members who were present.  She is looking for a display board and hoping to have it in place by the beginning of Advent.
  5. Pastoral Care – Connie Towey is currently looking for some special dietary needs casserole recipes.   Deb reported that there are several parishioners being supported through difficulties.
  6. Parish Life – No update at this point. There has been a proposal for a caroling party.
  7. Stewardship Campaign – This item was covered under item #1 above.
  8. Fundraising – Catherine Sumner has volunteered to lead this effort. Stephanie Zichichi reported on the Octoberfest.  The profit for the event was about $1500.  Stephanie asked about the possibility of a pasta feed in December.  The consensus was that is a great idea, but someone needs to volunteer to do it!
  9. By-laws review committee – Connie and Christina met with Rev. Deb and have developed proposed changes to the Church by-laws. There will be further discussion at the next meeting of the Vestry with the goal of having the updates made prior to the annual meeting.
  10. Nursery Hire – Barbara Brooks has recently taken over as leader of the Altar Guild which will leave her very little time to work this issue. Lynda Dyer will ask Amelia Brooks to pick this up.
  11. SWEEPS Ministry Fair Forum – Rev. Deb reported on the fair which we are looking to have at the December Faithful Forum.
  12. New Phone System – Following a HUGE amount of work, over 20 hours of Rev. Deb’s time alone, the phone system is almost working.
  13. Time of Vestry Meetings – The group agreed to stick with the 5:00 start time. When the new Vestry meets in 2020 this will be revisited.
  14. Vestry Recruitment – Connie Towey and Josh Senn reported on their progress regarding Vestry nominations for 2020. Amelia Brooks and Betty Case have agreed to run.  Connie has contacted Paula Menconi for her input also.

NEW BUSINESS

  1. Thanksgiving Dinner – The dinner is rolling along. Folks are signing up for bringing items.  Deb is making flyers with the goal of getting folks to come who would otherwise not have the opportunity to celebrate.
  2. Deb time off 12/31 to 1/5 – The Vestry approved Rev. Deb’s vacation request.
  3. Las Trampas Rental – We have been approached by Las Trampas Rehabilitation who are looking for a place to park busses overnight. As we have never rented the parking lot the Vestry discussed the concept.  All agreed that the concept is good, but “the devil is in the details”.

Closing Prayer and Adjournment. The meeting adjourned at 7:05 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Marjorie Leeds, Clerk Pro-tem

 

Grace Episcopal Church October Vestry Meeting Minutes

Present:  The Reverend Dr. Deborah White, Jim Maniatis (Jr. Warden arrived at 5:52), Betty Case, Christina Reich, Josh Senn, Connie Towey, Stephanie Zichichi (left the meeting at 5:56 for her bocce playoff game), Marj Leeds (Clerk pro-tem)

Absent:  Lynda Dyer, Paula Menconi, Pat Hambly

Guests:  Walter Ramsey, Marj Leeds (Assistant Treasurer)

 Call to Order and Opening Prayer.  The meeting was called to order at 5:05 p.m. with prayer by Rev. Deb.

 Bible Study. Sharing your Faith: Peter Heals a Crippled Beggar

 Consent Agenda. It was M/S/C (Towey/Reich) to approve the consent agenda: Minutes of September vestry meeting; Rector’s Report; Treasurer’s Report and Junior Warden’s Report.

 Insurance – Marj Leeds updated the group on the requirement that the Vestry determines annually what medical benefits will be offered to employees in the following year.  She recommended that the Vestry vote to offer the Kaiser EPO 80 medical plan, not pay for premiums for over-age children, not pay for medical/dental plans for part time employees, do provide EAP to part time employees, and not provide a Benefits Waiver Allowance to those who waive coverage.  It was M/S/C (Reich/Towey)

Morgan Stanley Account – Marj Leeds presented a recommendation from the Finance Committee.  The recommendation is to direct Marj Leeds to be added to the list of authorized users for the Morgan Stanley Account and then work to have the money currently in the Morgan Stanley account put into a money market, CD or some other very low risk investment option.  The precise investment will be determined by the Finance Committee.  M/S/C (Reich/Towey)

 

 

OLD BUSINESS

Stewardship (building and grounds)

Solar Presentation. Deb outlined some potential actions from “go now” to “full stop”.  Discussion followed regarding how to communicate regarding this issue with the rest of the congregation.  The email from Mr. Ilog was discussed.  The general consensus was that while the installation is a good project that would be valuable for God’s creation, it likely does not compete with other identified projects at this time.  However, the project information will be retained on file.

 

Marj Leeds brought up the potential to do a landscaping project that would reduce water usage.  Following discussion, a request was made of the Junior Warden to get an estimate to install a lock box on the sprinkler controls.

 

Education Wing Re-envisioning. On hold pending cost estimation.

 

 

 

Ministry Teams Update

 

Service (Outreach).  Walter and Christina reported that the group has been discussing our commitments to Winter Nights, a shelter program for homeless families.  We have also become involved with the work related to the homeless in downtown Martinez.  The Backpack project is finished.  Work continues on the Deacon’s Pantry with a particular need for meals that are ready to eat.

 

Worship.  The group meets tomorrow and will review our Season after Pentecost liturgies, the

Upcoming Advent season and new Tenebrae and Evensong services.

Education. The backpacks are in place and have been received well.  Rev. Deb continues to work on her podcast project.  Some delays have occurred due to family health issues. Curriculum for Advent Bible study has been set.

Evangelism/Welcome. The Welcoming Committee is working on new welcoming books.  One will be in the pews related to the liturgy.  The second will be broader information about our church.  Nametags are in our future!  The Welcoming Committee is developing a system to welcome/escort visitors and then follow up later in the week.

Pastoral Care. Connie Towey reported that the casserole supply is good.  And, four folks have volunteered to do deliveries.

Parish Life. Amy Eudy is working on Trivia Night

Stewardship Campaign. Rev. Deb is heading up the Stewardship campaign.  The letters are in production with volunteers standing up each Sunday to speak during announcements.

By-law Review Committee. No update at this time.

Nursery Hire. There have been a couple of false starts on this one as there is some evidence that people do not really read an employment ad prior to applying for a job. Barbara Brooks has the lead on hiring and is working on it.

Parish Administrator Hire.  A candidate has been identified.  Rev. Deb will be consulting the Treasurer regarding the expense.

NEW BUSINESS

Communicating and Supporting Parish Size Changes – Rev. Deb reminded the Vestry regarding this concept.

SWEEPS Ministry Fair Forum. In an effort to help people understand SWEEPS, Rev. Deb would like to hold a SWEEPS Fair on December 15 (as a Faithful Forum). The idea would be for each ministry area under SWEEPS to have a “booth” with information. Helping people understand the variety of opportunities will encourage them to volunteer.

New phone system. Rev. Deb reported that we bundled our phone and internet service (through AT&T). It has been difficult trying to set up the new system, so it’s not up and running yet. Once it’s set up there will be options when calling in to get directions, get service times, leave a message for the Rector, leave a message for the office, etc.

Time of Vestry Meetings.  Rev. Deb noted that a 5:00 start time for Vestry may be a barrier to working folks serving on the Vestry.  She suggested that everyone consider a later start time.

Vestry Recruitment Rev Deb reminded Connie Towey and Josh Senn that as the “middle class” of the Vestry they are responsible for identifying Vestry Candidates for the 2020 election.

 Closing Prayer and Adjournment. The meeting adjourned at 6:48 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Marjorie Leeds, Clerk Pro-Tem

Preaching Politics

I have recently found myself fielding questions about what people tend to refer to as “preaching politics.” These queries do not have a simple answer but, given the fact that we will all be hearing more and more about the upcoming 2020 elections, it is worth exploring the nature of political discourse in American religious institutions.

First of all, there is no criminal or civil code that governs the relationship between religious institutions and political campaigns. It has instead been regulated by the Tax Code since 1954. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), organizations which are exempt from paying federal taxes are prohibited from advocating for or against a specific candidate or party. “501(c) (3)” groups have to meet a certain criteria in order to qualify for this exemption.  Thus, if a religious organization is not a designated 501c3, it is not restricted from any form of political involvement.

The second thing to know is that the code specifically prohibits support of specific candidates.  It does not restrict advocacy on issues. Thus, many churches issue statements demonstrating their support for certain types of legislation, including gun control, abortion, and the environment. As they may be significant issues for churchgoers, churches are allowed to host political forums as long as both sides of a debated issue are represented and no candidate is allowed to ask for votes.

According to the Pew Research Center’s “Preaching Politics from the Pulpit,” (2012), a good example of how a church can violate the tax code occurred when, “Four days before the 1992 presidential election, the Church at Pierce Creek in Binghamton, N.Y., placed a full-page advertisement in USA Today and The Washington Times. The ad began with the heading: ‘Christians Beware: Do not put the economy ahead of the Ten Commandments.’ The ad cited biblical passages and stated that Gov. Bill Clinton supported abortion on demand, homosexuality and the distribution of condoms to teenagers in public schools. The ad concluded with the question: ‘How then can we vote for Bill Clinton?’ At the bottom of the ad, in fine print, the following notice appeared: ’This advertisement was co-sponsored by The Church at Pierce Creek, Daniel J. Little, Senior Pastor, and by churches and concerned Christians nationwide. Tax-deductible donations for this advertisement gladly accepted.”

Clergy persons may, like other individual citizens, endorse candidates in their own name, but they may not do so in the name of a congregation or religious institution. This, as you might guess, is a fine line. Other “blurry” situations include when a religious leader suggests that his followers vote for “the pro blank” candidate. If there are only two candidates and one is “pro” and the other “con” on that particular issue, it is clear which way the church leader is suggesting people vote, although s/he may not have named a specific candidate.

The Episcopal Church has an Office of Government Relations which identifies and advocates for the denomination’s positions on issues like immigration, racism, creation care, poverty, and human rights. There is a broad spectrum of both theological and political belief among Episcopalians and civil discussion of the issues that significantly influence our lives is encouraged. The Episcopal Church determines our positions based on our primary vocation of following the Way of Jesus.

Preaching becomes part of political discourse when the teachings of scripture, specifically the words of Jesus, intersect with questions about how we, as his followers, should govern ourselves. To be clear, Episcopal clergy persons do not “preach politics.” We preach the gospel.  Jesus frequently commented on the political issues of his own time, including citizenship, taxation, and, most importantly, the need for the powerful to care for the disenfranchised. We believe it is important to assess Jesus’s statements and apply them to our current social, economic, and educational concerns. We do this not by finding biblical quotations that support already existing views, but by reading, studying, and praying about our holy scriptures.

Here is a list of Episcopal justice groups and ministries, as well as statements from various church leaders related to current political issues:

 Anglican Peace and Justice Network: https://apjn.anglicancommunion.org. o International.
o St. Mary’s justice Ministries featured in first online newsletter: http://livingreconciliation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/APJN-newsletter-Issue-01.pdf.  Episcopal Church News (ENS): https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org. o Subscribe to keep up with the Episcopal Church activities and positions nationwide.  Episcopal Office of Government Relations: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/officegovernment-relations. o “The Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations carries out advocacy on public
policy issues where the General Convention has passed resolutions . . [that] aim to
interpret how governments and international institutions can strive for justice and
respect the human dignity of every human being.”
o Provides regular action alerts and information posts to those who subscribe.  Episcopal Public Policy Network: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/OGR/eppn-sign-up. o “A network of Episcopalians across the country dedicated to carrying out the Baptismal
Covenant call to ‘strive for justice and peace’ through the active ministry of public policy
advocacy.”
o Advices the Episcopal Office of Government Affairs and the Presiding Bishop on public
policy and political (not partisan) positions of the church.
o Areas of particular interest: Migration, refugees, & immigration; human rights and
peacebuilding; ending poverty; racial reconciliation; and creation care.  Episcopal Peace Fellowship: https://epfnational.org. o Founded as Episcopal Peace Fellowship on Armistice Day, November 11, 1939.
o Open to lay and clergy.
o San Francisco Chapter  Sister Pamela Clare, Convener  csfsfo@aol.com. o Individuals can subscribe to receive period updates.
Episcopal Diocese of California (DioCal)  DioCal News and Events: https://mailchi.mp/diocal/signup. (Individuals can subscribe.)
o Weekly newsletter contains news, public positions, and actions of the Diocese of
California, joint positions of all six California Episcopal diocese, and the Episcopal
Church.
o Joint California bishops’ statements, as well as Bishop Marc’s positions are published
here.  Episcopal Public Policy Network of California (EPPNCA)
o Lay and clerical representatives of the six Episcopal dioceses in the State of California
consider and draft policy positions and actions on a variety of public and justice issues.
o No webpage, as all statements and positions are issued through the respective dioceses.
o All six bishops must agree upon a statement before it is issued by any of them. (This
does not prevent any Bishop or diocese from issuing individual statements and positions
on their own initiative.)
o St. Mary’s parishioner David Crosson serves as one of five representatives of the Diocese
of California.
Specific Causes and Actions  Death Penalty
o Statement of bishops of six Episcopal diocese of California supporting moratorium on
the death penalty in California: https://diocal.org/news/california-episcopal-bishopsstatement-supporting-moratorium-death-penalty-california.  Gun Violence, Racism, and Christian Nationalism
o Bishops United Against Gun Violence: http://bishopsagainstgunviolence.org.  Nearly 100 Episcopal bishops organized to take positions and create strategies to
end gun violence and to address its systemic causes.  Issues range from anti-Semitism, Christian white-nationalism and other root causes.  Includes online liturgical resources for times of mass killings.
o Bishops United Against Gun Violence Statement on Christian Nationalism &
Systematic Racism: http://bishopsagainstgunviolence.org/bishops-united-repudiateschristian-nationalism-systemic-racism. o Bishop Marc Andrus’ statement on gun violence, March 6, 2018:
https://diocal.org/news/bishop-marc-beloved-community-protecting-vulnerable-gunviolence-our-responsibility

Youth Choir at Grace!

Introducing the Amazing Grace Youth Choir

Young people ages 7-17 are invited to join in learning to read, appreciate and perform music in a low-stress environment. Rehearsals on Sunday at noon (following our 10 a.m. service and coffee hour). To enroll, see or contact Music Director Arthur Omura (music@gracechurchmtz.org)

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:

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.

 

Episcopal Church stance on abortion

Information from Office of Government Relations: General Convention policy on abortion, women’s reproductive health

In response to questions related to The Episcopal Church’s position on abortion, the Office of Government Relations offers this summary of General Convention Policy on Abortion and Women’s Reproductive Health. Additional information, including the text of the official policies and statements of the General Convention and Executive Council of The Episcopal Church may be found here.

Clergy throughout The Episcopal Church counsel women, men, and families who must make decisions relating to pregnancy and childbirth, adoption, family planning, and who face infertility. Our ordained and lay leaders walk alongside Episcopalians and others who struggle with this intimate and challenging aspect of human life. Over the past several decades, the General Convention has addressed the topic of abortion from a position informed by this ministry and personal lived experience of clergy and laity within their own families. As a result, the General Convention of The Episcopal Church recognizes the moral, legal, personal, and societal complexity of the issue. The diversity of views within the Church represents our common struggle to understand and discern this issue.

The Episcopal Church teaches that “all human life is sacred. Hence, it is sacred from its inception until death. The Church takes seriously its obligation to help form the consciences of its members concerning this sacredness. Human life, therefore, should be initiated only advisedly and in full accord with this understanding of the power to conceive and give birth which is bestowed by God.” Our liturgical text Enriching Our Worship calls for great pastoral sensitivity to the needs of the woman and others involved in decisions relating to “abortion, or mishaps of pregnancy and infertility.” This ministry is particularly important in situations that result in the loss of a pregnancy or inability to become pregnant and as a Church, we have experienced that all of these have “a tragic dimension.”

In a series of statements over the past decades, the Church has declared that “we emphatically oppose abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection, or any reason of mere convenience.” At the same time, since 1967, The Episcopal Church has maintained its “unequivocal opposition to any legislation on the part of the national or state governments which would abridge or deny the right of individuals to reach informed decisions [about the termination of pregnancy] and to act upon them.”

The Church urges dioceses and congregations “to give necessary aid and support to all pregnant women.” General Convention “commends the work and mission of pregnancy care centers which stress unconditional love and acceptance, for women and their unborn children.” We have urged support of “local pregnancy care centers” that “develop an outreach of love to pregnant women and to mothers and their children.”

At the General Convention in 2018, The Episcopal Church called for “women’s reproductive health and reproductive health procedures to be treated as all other medical procedures.” The Convention declared “that equitable access to women’s health care, including women’s reproductive health care, is an integral part of a woman’s struggle to assert her dignity and worth as a human being.”

We continue to advocate that “legislating abortions will not address the root of the problem. We therefore express our deep conviction that any proposed legislation on the part of national or state governments regarding abortions must take special care to see that the individual conscience is respected, and that the responsibility of individuals to reach informed decisions in this matter is acknowledged and honored as the position of this Church.”

The Church also sees education as an essential component of engaging with issues relating to family planning, child spacing, adoption, infertility and abortion. The global Anglican Communion, of which The Episcopal Church is a member, first supported the use of contraceptives in 1930, and as Christians we affirm responsible family planning. General Convention policy states “it is the responsibility of our congregations to assist their members in becoming informed concerning the spiritual, physiological and psychological aspects of sex and sexuality.” The Book of Common Prayer affirms that “the birth of a child is a joyous and solemn occasion in the life of a family. It is also an occasion for rejoicing in the Christian community” (p 440).

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