Present: The Reverend Dr. Deborah White (Rector), Christina Reich, (Sr. Warden), Joshua Senn (Jr. Warden), Amelia Brooks, Chandra Damele, Sally Hanson, David Kennedy, Jane Ramsey, Connie Towey, Stephanie Zichichi
Guests: Marj Leeds, Treasurer; Columba Salamony, Field Education Student; The Rev. Walter Ramsey; Jennifer Sabroe; Liz Charlton; Beth Ilog; Jim Ilog; Sarah Williams, Parish Administrator
M/S/C denotes motion made, seconded and carried. The names following M/S/C in parenthesis denote the persons who made the motion and seconded.
Call to Order and Opening Prayer. The meeting was called to order at 6:04 p.m. and led in prayer by Rev. Deb.
Bible Study. Parable of the Sower, Mark 4:1-20. The group read and discussed the passage.
Consent Agenda. It was M/S/C (Towey/Hanson) to approve the consent agenda items: Minutes of last meeting; Rector’s report; Senior Warden’s Report, Junior Warden’s Report, Treasurer’s report
Financial: Treasurer Marj Leeds outlined the 2020 treasurer’s report.
Stewardship Drive We are missing some pledges, around $20,000 worth, which is both a financial and a pastoral matter. There could be reasons we don’t know about, and also some may have simply overlooked it.
2021 Budget The 2021 budget will be presented (will not be voted on) at the parish annual meeting. The next vestry will approve a budget for 2021. With current pledges, the budget draft shows a deficit. We may ask for relief on the assessment we pay to the diocese.
Winter Nights family shelter program: Grace will provide the food for March 8-11, during which period the shelter is being hosted at Friends Church in Walnut Creek. Due to the pandemic we cannot cook the meals at Grace the way we have done in previous years, so we will buy groceries for the breakfast and we will provide catered dinners for those days. Tina has found an affordable caterer to provide the dinners, and she will write an item for Grace Notes asking for monetary donations and for help picking up the dinners from the caterer and delivering them to the Friends Church. The total price we are raising funds to cover will be $1320.
Worship and Liturgy
The committee meets next week to prepare for Lent. We have changed to a new liturgy for Epiphany. It’s clear that we will not be back to in-person worship in the church until Spring.
Thanks to Jennifer Sabroefor her help with virtual coffee hour. Liz and Tina discussed name tags recently; when we are back together in person it will be good to have name tags. Rev. Deb reported that some of the people who worship with us on Sundays even though they do not live in the area are regular enough that they have pledged and consider themselves members of Grace. There are also some local people who had stopped attending but have become regulars at the Sunday livestreams and are more connected to the church now. Tina points out that the labyrinth may be appealing to the community and will offer an opportunity for new people to get to know us.
Godly Play is going well. Book club, antiracism book study, and Bible study are going well. There will not be a Faithful Forum this month, due to the Vestry Liaison’s new family responsibilities. Columba gave a good Faithful Forum in December, which was well attended.
There have been no recent calls for casseroles. The deacon’s pantry keeps filling up and is being used. The prayer list is long; there is a good deal of illness and loss right now.
No in-person social activities are allowed at the moment. Stephanie would like to see a church directory published again, outside of Realm. She will write an item for Grace Notes about this.
Stewardship This was discussed in conjunction with discussion about the budget.
Buildings and Grounds
Roses/Quad/Labyrinth Marj Leeds explained that, because of the amount of work and water that goes into the roses, the decision has been made to remove them. Josh Senn and Marj are working toward a drought-tolerant, harmonious landscape plan for the property. The rose bushes are being sent to good homes.
We may be able to get a price break on our water bill by converting to water-saving landscaping, specifically by eliminating the lawn. This would require submitting our landscape plan to the water district ahead of time. Josh would love to see the lawn taken out; not only does it require a good deal of water to maintain it, but also the sprinkler system is leaking and damaging the concrete of the walkways, and possibly damaging the building foundation.
As was discussed at various recent vestry meetings, we are going to install a labyrinth for walking meditation in the quad. Tina has an appointment with Lars Howlett, a “labyrinth consultant” who works in our diocese. This is a 20-minute, free consultation. For a small fee he can design our labyrinth if we would like.
For now the sprinkler system is turned off but possibly still leaking, as the quad still has visible water. Jim Maniatis will turn off the main valve to the sprinkler system in hopes of stopping any leaks.
Video and Sound System/Audiovisual Booth: The system is working now. The only problems this past Sunday stemmed from the team getting used to the system and working out the best settings.
Alarm system: The new alarm system is active. In addition to sensors at the doors, it has motion sensors, sensors that detect the sound of breaking glass, and cameras both indoors and out. Rev. Deb can monitor the camera feeds remotely from her smartphone. If the alarm is tripped, the company will call Rev. Deb, and if no answer then they will call Marj, and if no answer then they will call police. Rev. Deb gave instructions, and gave vestry members a code. Church members with keys may ask Sarah for a code.
2021 Annual Meeting/Vestry Nominees
The nominating committee has found the necessary candidates for the Vestry and to serve as delegates to the Deanery meetings and the Diocesan Convention. Biographies will be sent out in Grace Notes. The annual meeting will be January 24, by Zoom.
We have several people who have volunteered to serve on the Upper Lot committee, but no chair at the moment. We promised the congregation that we would present something at the Annual Meeting on January 24. There may be support from the Diocese for a project like ours. We may want to take advantage of the Episcopal Impact Fund’s grants to partially finance consultation to help churches determine what kind of use they can best make of their property.
The vestry agreed that a multiple-use project would be best, possibly including low-income housing for some particular target group, a rectory, possibly office space or event space that could be rented in order to provide an income stream to the church, and possibly other uses. Rev. Deb reported that Amy Eudy had volunteered to chair the committee and that she believed that we now have a committee. Rev. Deb will work with the Upper Lot Committee to prepare a presentation for the Annual Meeting.
Rev. Deb thanked outgoing vestry members Josh Senn and Connie Towey for their service to Grace and thanked the group for their patience during the marathon meeting.
Phone Tree: Stewardship, Annual Meeting
Stewardship drive follow-up contacts were assigned. Callers were asked to also encourage people to pre-register for the Annual meeting.
DISMISSAL Rev. Walter led the dismissal and the meeting adjourned at 8:42 p.m.