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.


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).

You will know they are Christians by their love

There is an apocryphal story about Eleanor Roosevelt hosting a dinner at the White House. At some point in the meal, one of the guests, confounded by the extensive table setting before him, mistook his finger bowl (a mini bowl filled with lemon water used to rinse one’s fingers off as needed) for a bowl of soup, picking it up and drinking from it. Without missing a beat, Mrs. Roosevelt picked up her own finger bowl and did the same.  Thus, by breaking an etiquette rule, Mrs. Roosevelt did exactly what manners are supposed to do: she made someone feel more comfortable. This illustrates the notion that manners are designed not to separate people, but to bring them together. The idea is that if we have shared rules, our anxiety and discomfort about doing the right thing will be alleviated. It’s about treating each other right.

For Christians, the way we treat each other is a foundational part of our identity. In the famous Bible passage from John 13:34-35, Jesus identifies what it means to follow him – to be what we now call “Christian.” “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.” Notice that Jesus doesn’t tell them that they need to look a certain way, or live in a certain place, or follow existing civil laws. What he says, to put it in the words of the children’s song, is that people will know we are Christians by our love. It’s just that simple.

And yet for millennia, those who call themselves followers of Jesus have found other ways to identify true believers, including by what they read, who they talk to, or how they vote. Jesus, however, never talks about these things. He does not even talk about the importance of the Bible or formal religious creeds. Remember, the New Testament wasn’t even written until two generations after Jesus’ death! Jesus doesn’t tell his disciples how to measure each other; he tells them how to identify one another – and it is by their behavior, not their words.

Of course, as we all know, it’s easier to love some people than others. It’s simpler to spend time with people who believe the same things we do, who think like us, and who share our interests. Readers join book clubs; outdoor folk join scouting; and trivia buffs play “Jeopardy.” This has always been true, but it has become particularly pronounced with the advent of social media. In the past, you could manage to spend most of your time with people of like mind, but you would still encounter people who were difficult to get along with -so you learned to get along with them. But if your primary social interactions are on the internet, you can actually avoid that. Studies demonstrate that although people are more connected than ever, most do not use their connections to learn about one another and build understanding and community, but rather to strengthen their own ideas and existing social networks.

This is just as true about Christians as it is about any other group. The truth is that we are just as likely to find someone we don’t agree with – or simply find annoying – at church as anywhere else. What I have always found to be the beauty of Christian community, however, is that we are not allowed to avoid those people. We have rituals that force us to greet one another as Christians, by demonstrating love and peace.

Unfortunately, churches, like other institutions, have a long history of welcoming some people and shutting out others, often based on the idea that some people are better than others. We need to continue to unlearn this ungodly behavior, but, sadly, the advent of social media allows us to limit our communications to other Christians who believe as we do, thus endorsing our existing, often narrow views and keeping us from learning and growing – and keeping us from demonstrating the way of Jesus.

Each time we refuse to listen to those who disagree with us; each time we make a decision to keep someone out of our community because of who they are, and every, single time we use scripture to argue that a certain human viewpoint- or law-or individual -is right to provoke, fear, promote hatred, or treat anyone as less than a child of God, we violate the primary commandment of Jesus. We make ourselves bigger and God smaller.

That’s completely inconsistent with our holy scriptures, which repeatedly celebrate the greatness of the Lord – the generosity of a God who made and cares for all things -not just humans – and who asks us to care for them and praise God in harmony with them. It is my experience that this is only possible when we focus on doing God’s work. I have many friends with whom I don’t agree theologically, but I am happy to stand beside them at a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter – and they are happy to stand by me. Because in those moments, when we are caring for the disenfranchised, the poor, the hated, and the marginalized, our desire to judge one another- to put our human rules ahead of the way of Jesus- fall away. In those moments, we recognize one another. We know we are Christians by our love.

Grace Episcopal Church in Martinez is a community of the Episcopal Diocese of California. We would love you to visit and worship with us. All are welcome at God’s table. Each Sunday Grace offers Holy Eucharist, Rite II from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Our 10 a.m. service is a Choral Eucharist with family activities. Children are always welcome to take part in all services at Grace. There is Nursery Care for babies and young toddlers in the Education building. At Grace, we have Godly Play (Sunday school) during the school year, but children and youth share in the ministry of the church year-round, serving as acolytes, readers, and oblation bearers. We have monthly adult education forums on the third Sunday of the month, covering social, community, and theological topics. Our Youth Group meets monthly. For more about Grace, please check out our website: www.gracechurchmtz.org

May Vestry Minutes

Grace Episcopal Church, Martinez, CA Vestry Meeting, May 8, 2019, 5 p.m. Minutes

Vestry Present:          The Reverend Dr. Deborah White (Rector), Lynda Dyer (Sr. Warden), Paula Menconi (Treasurer), Christina Reich, Connie Towey, Stephanie Zichichi

Others Present:         Jennifer Sabroe (Clerk), Dick Evans (Buildings and Grounds) and Fran Evans, Dru Grissom (Facilities)

Vestry Absent:          Jim Maniatis (Jr. Warden), Pat Hambly, Ron Luttringer, Josh Senn

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


Matthew 20:20-28, Leadership


It was M/S/C (Towey/Reich) to accept the consent agenda items as presented: Agenda, Minutes of April 10, 2019 meeting; Rector’s report; Senior Warden report; Junior Warden report; and Treasurer’s report.


 Stewardship: Buildings and Grounds.

 Invoices for work on hillside.  On behalf of Jr. Warden Jim Maniatis, Dick Evans reported on the clean- up of brush and overgrowth on the hillside on the Muir Station Rd. side of the church property, that was done a couple of weeks ago. The Jr. Warden had arranged for the work, without prior notice to or approval of the Rector or Vestry. He had reasoned that there was urgency due to the upcoming fire season and the amount of brush (including poison oak) and debris to be cleared. His assessment was that it was too big and dangerous a job to be done by a volunteer work party. After obtaining a quote, he hired a company to do the work, in the amount of approximately $6,000.

Rev. Deb reminded the Vestry of the protocol that any expense over $1,000 is to be approved in advance by the Vestry. Dick noted that Jim realizes he should have obtained prior approval. He has apologized.

It was M/S/C (Reich/Towey) to approve retroactively the expenditure of approximately $6,000 for the hillside clearing work. The vestry frowned collectively, but agreed unanimously.

Goats. Dick Evans reported that the goats will be scheduled for the end of May or early June.

 Solar. Dru Grissom has been researching solar power systems for our property. She reported that a representative from Sun, Light and Power will do a survey on May 9. He will look at the property, layout, breakers, PG&E bill, etcetera and provide information on our options. This is the first vendor she has talked to. There are others to compare with if necessary. The installation process takes 3-6 months.

 Upper Lot. Rev. Deb reported that the Vestry retreat (date TBD) will be a full day meeting, to discuss issues that are beyond the scope of a regular meeting, and that require more time for discussion. The upper lot is one of those issues. The conversation needs to be “How are we going to decide what to do with the upper lot?” rather than “What are we going to do with the upper lot?” The next step will be to conduct an all-parish discernment process.

Remodeling. With the growth in church attendance we have experienced the last two years, there are more families and kids of a wide range of ages. We are now experiencing issues with space in the Education wing and offices. Jim Maniatis has some good ideas for reconfiguring space. This will also be a topic for discussion at the Vestry retreat.

 Fundraising. Rev. Deb will be meeting with St. Christopher’s Guild president Susan Bremmer to discuss the possibility of St. Christopher’s organizing a fundraiser for Grace. Stephanie will start working on fundraising in the next couple of weeks.

Rev. Deb reminded the Vestry that we have divided events into either Parish Life or Fundraising. Amy Eudy is chair of Parish Life. Parish Life events are planned so that the cost is minimal and those attending pay if they are able.



Outreach Committee. Rev Deb reported on topics discussed at the May 5 meeting. A “field trip” is being planned to learn about Sacred Space in Oakland.  Tina reported on the discussion of Winter Nights, a Contra Costa Interfaith shelter program. Grace is the only Episcopal church in the Contra Costa Deanery that is not involved with this program. There will be a Faithful Forum in August about Winter Nights, with participants in the program sharing their experiences about how the program works. Winter Nights provides housing during the months October – March to homeless families. Churches rotate every two weeks to provide overnight shelter at their facilities. Hosting churches provide dinner, and volunteers at a ratio of 1:5 (one volunteer for every five guests).

Worship. There will be a Worship and Liturgy Committee meeting tomorrow.

Education. Lynda provided an update on the Nursery and Godly Play. They are looking for activities that the children can do during Sunday School time, once Godly Play ends for the summer. She reported on the missing toys and the announcement for kids to return toys if they take them from the nursery. She’s working on filling church activity backpacks with quiet materials.  Greeters will be trained to offer backpacks to families with children as they come into church. (The backpacks are to be left in church after the service. There will be wall hooks at the rug area to hang the backpacks.) Last day of Sunday School is June 2, when we will have Sunday School Recognition and recognition of high school graduates.


 Easter. Rev. Deb reported that attendance at Easter services was 149.

Thanksgiving at Grace 2019. Christina and Lynda volunteered to organize this year’s Thanksgiving at Grace. This is an Evangelism event open to the community, to provide a meal and fellowship for whomever wants to come, and for those who have no other place to go.

 Website. Josh Senn has been working with Rev. Deb on upgrading the website. Rev Deb is still looking for someone to help with keeping the website current (uploading sermons, posting Vestry minutes and special announcements, etc.)

 Welcoming. Rev. Deb thanked Stephanie for providing the electronic copy of the “old” welcome packet. We are looking for a volunteer to take on Welcoming oversight. Gary Spenik has agreed to do a retraining of ushers/greeters.

 Pastoral Care. Rev. Deb provided an update on pastoral care.  Leslie is taking a break from PC.

 Casserole Patrol. Stan Applegate will cover for Connie for a few months.

Michele Lynch’s memorial is Saturday, May 25, 11 a.m.

Parish Life. Tina reported that there will be no bocce tournament this year, due to conflicts on the calendar. On June 2, there will be a Parish BBQ and Ice Cream Social to celebrate the end of the school program year and honor the high school graduates. Plans are underway to schedule another Trivia Night in September. Date TBD.

 BYLAWS REVIEW COMMITTEE.  Rev. Deb will begin work on this bylaws revision, as there is concern that the bylaws as they are written now do not address things that need attention. Christina will type the hard copy document into Word (there is no editable electronic document at this time.)

Changes in bylaws criteria (per current bylaws): Can be done at a regular vestry meeting with ¾ of vestry approving. Has to be provided 15 days in advance in writing to allow time to review.

VESTRY DUTY REMINDERS. Lynda addressed the group with a reminder of the importance and responsibilities of Vestry members, including, to be present at meetings, church events, retreat, and worship.

Rev. Deb will send out another Doodle poll to find a retreat date.

 UPDATE: TRAILERS ON UPPER LOT. Rev. Deb updated the Vestry on the circumstances of the person living in the travel trailer on the upper lot, including the week-to-week agreement that was put in place following the March Vestry meeting. The other trailer and truck have been on the upper lot for over a year.

It was M/S/C (Zichichi/Towey) to give both parties notice that they must be out by May 31, 2019.


Connie Towey will be having surgery next week.

The online directory is ready to launch. There will be a Faithful Forum on May 26, to inform the congregation of how it will work and answer questions.

Tina is making special offering envelopes for Rector’s Discretionary Fund. On the third Sunday of the month, the special envelopes will be included in bulletins to be used for RDF offerings.

Lynda is working on nametags.


There was no new business.


The meeting was adjourned at 7:05 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Jennifer Sabroe, Clerk


Why I am an Episcopalian

I have many roles. I am a wife, mother, daughter, and friend.  I have been married for 30 years, have two children, a mom in her 90s, and a dog. I have done many things. I have been a print journalist, disc jockey, radio newscaster, social worker helping chronically mentally ill people on the streets of Baltimore, psychologist in the California state prison system, forensic psychologist for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, neuropsychologist for the California Department of Mental Health, and a forensic psychological expert witness in both state service and private practice. A great deal of what I think and write about come from the many aspects of who I am, and my primary identity now is as an ordained minister of the Episcopal Church. Since I write many of our weekly articles, I wanted you to know what it means to me to be part of the Episcopal Church.

The Episcopal Church is a Protestant Christian denomination which is part of the global Anglican Communion.  We are a democratic and hierarchical organization, much like the U.S. itself.  We consider clergy and lay people to be equally important to the work of the church, with each group attempting to find and fulfill our specific call to serve from God.

The Episcopal Church has, as a body, made many mistakes.  We have been a powerful and privileged group and have used that power and privilege to advance the interests of the few over the many, to hold onto and build more power at the expense of others, and to force our beliefs on other people.  We have not only failed to care for those in need and raise up those who are kept low by systemic inequity, but we have helped perpetuate the situations and institutions that have led to injustice and oppression in our society.

Over the last four decades we have changed. In 2010 The Episcopal Church committed itself to: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.

The Episcopal Church has also recommitted itself to the basic Christian values of loving our neighbors as ourselves.  According to our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, “in the first century Jesus of Nazareth inspired a movement. A community of people whose lives were centered on Jesus Christ and committed to living the way of God’s unconditional, unselfish, sacrificial, and redemptive love. Before they were called “church” or “Christian,” this Jesus Movement was simply called ‘the way.’ Today I believe our vocation is to live as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. But how can we together grow more deeply with Jesus Christ at the center of our lives, so we can bear witness to his way of love in and for the world?…By entering into reflection, discernment and commitment around the practices of Turn – Learn – Pray – Worship – Bless – Go – Rest, I pray we will grow as communities following the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus. His way has the power to change each of our lives and to change this world.” The Episcopal Church recognizes the deep suspicion many people have of organized religion.  We understand the depth to which many people have been wounded by those calling themselves Christian.  We attempt to be vigilant about our own actions that are based on fear or prejudice – and to stop them.

Episcopalians also have a sense of humor, as evidenced by this take on our denomination by Robin Williams, who was raised in the Episcopal Church:

Top 10 Reasons to be an Episcopalian:

  1.  No snake handling;
  2.  You can believe in dinosaurs;
  3.  Male and female God created them; male and female we ordain them;
  4.  You don’t have to check your brains at the door;
  5.  Pew aerobics;
  6.  Church year is color-coded;
  7.  Free wine on Sunday;
  8.  All of the pageantry – none of the guilt;
  9.  You don’t have to know how to swim to get baptized;

And the Number One reason to be an Episcopalian: No matter what you believe, there’s bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you.

In other words, Episcopalians are open to questioning and doubt.  We welcome all people to our communities.  We welcome you.

March Vestry Minutes

Grace Episcopal Church,  Martinez, California

Unadopted Minutes of Vestry Meeting, March 13, 2019

Vestry Present: The Reverend Dr. Deborah White, Lynda Dyer (Sr. Warden), Jim Maniatis (Jr. Warden) (left at 5:35), Paula Menconi (Treasurer) (left at 6:40), Pat Hambly, Christina Reich, Josh Senn, Connie Towey

Others Present: Jennifer Sabroe (Clerk), Dru Grissom (Facility Use)

Vestry Absent:   Ron Luttringer, Stephanie Zichichi

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


Spiritual Formation – The Prodigal Son


It was M/S/C (Towey/Dyer) to accept the consent agenda items as presented: Minutes of February 13, 2019 meeting; Rector’s report; Senior Warden report; Junior Warden report; and Treasurer’s report.


Dru Grissom, Facility Use Manager, presented information on current user groups and facility use procedures. National church guidelines, insurance and liability issues, federal tax laws are considered when determining what groups/individuals we can rent to. A flowchart illustrating the process was distributed. Groups must have evidence of being a 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 non-profit, provide a certificate of insurance, and sign an agreement which includes terms of use of the Parish Hall (including Kitchen; however, kitchen use is limited to food staging only – no food preparation.) New rate is $35 per hour. Currently we have five groups that use our parish hall.

  1. WARDEN REPORT. Referring to the to-do list in the Jr. Warden’s Report, there was a question regarding the need for re-wiring of the Parish Hall. Jim explained that only the top plug works on all of the outlets on the long-side walls, and these aren’t properly grounded. In response to a question about the cleaning of the hillside along Muir Station Road, Jim explained that the brush and debris need to be cleared out for fire mitigation. Josh suggested contacting the city to take care of clearing a few feet from road and then we work from top down. There was discussion of scheduling a work-party day to take care of other things on the Jr. Warden’s to-do list.  


Service/Outreach.  Pat had nothing to report as she has been gone for a month. Rev. Deb provided an update. Outreach Committee has met. The Kindness Kits concept is now off the agenda because now we have the Deacon’s Pantry, which meets the need.

Worship. Rev. Deb reported that the Worship & Liturgy meeting would be meeting the next day at 1pm when there will be discussion of Holy Week and the Children’s area. Last month there was discussion concerning noise in church. In response, Rev. Deb included the article about noise in church in Grace Notes, and when there didn’t seem to be a response, she talked about it during the service. The noise issue is not just about the children; there are parts that are about the adults too. There was discussion about the Peace – it has become disruptive and beyond the scope of the intent – and how to rein it in.

Education. Godly Play has acquired a new curriculum. Youth Group is meeting monthly and moving along. At the February meeting they watched the Academy Awards. There are some new faces in the group. Efforts still underway for the Youth Group to coordinate an activity with Outreach.    

Evangelism. Josh reported that he has researched our current website software, WordPress, and has reached out to a company that specializes in WordPress to get a quote on reworking our website.

Use of Space. There was discussion around of use of space and requests for space. Rev Deb indicated that she is getting a lot of requests with competing interests for space in the Education Wing – Nursery, Godly Play, Youth Group, Office Staff, etc. She would like to schedule a meeting of all those concerned, including Buildings and Grounds, to talk about reconfiguring the Education Building.   

Pastoral Care. Connie reported that she and Leslie have met about pastoral needs. More casseroles are needed now, so she requested it be announced in Grace Notes and the bulletin.

Rector’s Discretionary Fund. Rev. Deb explained the purpose of the Rector’s Discretionary Fund and how she disburses the money. There was discussion on the idea of a special offering envelope to insert in the bulletin once a month (3rd Sunday) specifically for the Rector’s Discretionary Fund. Christina offered to design special offering envelopes and write up a blurb for Grace Notes.

Parish Life. Christina reported on her conversation with Amy Eudy about Parish Life events. There are plans in the works for another themed trivia night. Amy would like to get a formal committee together and will start working on that soon so that future events for the upcoming year can be placed on the calendar. Amy will talk to St. Christopher’s Guild regarding their event planning. Rev. Deb indicated she’s talked to Stephanie Zichichi about chairing the Fundraising Committee. She has also asked Susan Bremmer if St. Christopher’s would do a fundraiser for Grace.  There was discussion about the role of St. Christopher’s Guild.

Lenten breakfasts. Lynda reported that Jim Maniatis, Don Dyer, and John Heyse have volunteered to do the cooking for the pancake breakfasts during Lent. There will be a rotation of workers (Youth Group, St. Christopher’s, and Vestry) every week to do set-up, take orders, and clean-up.

Stewardship: Fundraising – St. Patrick’s Day Dinner.  There was brief check-in on set-up, food, clean up, raffle, bar. Everything is under control.


Connie Towey and Christina Reich reported that when they finish going through the bylaws – The Episcopal Church (TEC) Canons, Diocesan Canons, and Grace Bylaws – they will meet with Rev. Deb to review their recommended changes to the Grace Bylaws.


Rev. Deb reminded the Vestry that there will be a 2-hour in-person training here at Grace on Saturday, March 30, presented by Caren Miles, Faith Formation person from the Diocese, as an alternative to the online courses. Staff and volunteers in various ministries need to complete the Safe Church courses every three years.

VPOD reminder. Vestry members were reminded of their responsibility to the Vestry Person of the Day schedule.

HOMELESSNESS COMMISSION IN MARTINEZ. Rev. Deb reported on her meeting with a Martinez City Councilmember and Chief of Police. The City of Martinez is putting together a formalized commission on homelessness. The representatives asked if Rev. Deb would take part. She agreed. She also referred them to other folks who already have efforts going.

SWEEPS calendar. Rev. Deb is working on putting together a color-coded church calendar, to help track various activities throughout the year.  

RECTOR’S TIME OFF (3/25-3/29; 4/22-4/28; 8/8-8/15) AND CONTINUING EDUCATION (6/2-6/6). It was M/S/C (Hambly/Dyer) to approve Rev. Deb’s requested time off.  

TRAILERS ON UPPER LOT. Rev. Deb updated the Vestry on the circumstances regarding the trailers on the upper lot. One trailer (and truck) belong to a parishioner and are not being used; however, Rev. Deb is checking in with the family to find out when it will be moved. The other trailer (and vehicles) belong to a member who has recently become homeless. There was discussion. It was M/S/C (Dyer/Towey) to check into legalities (including insurance) of having someone living on our premises temporarily.

VESTRY RETREAT. Rev. Deb is looking for a date that will work for everyone for the Vestry Retreat.  May 11 seemed to be a good date, but at least one vestry member is not available then.  Rev. Deb will send out another link to the Doodle poll.


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

Respectfully submitted,


Jennifer Sabroe, Clerk

Proudly powered by WordPress and developed by Jon Penland.