January 2019 Vestry Minutes

Grace Episcopal Church Martinez, California

Unadopted Minutes of Vestry Meeting, January 9, 2019

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

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

Vestry Absent:          None

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


Discipleship: Peter’s Call. Spiritual Calling


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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


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


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

 Pastoral Care

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

Parish Life

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


See Update on Pledges under Finance Committee section above.

Worship and Liturgy

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Article I, Section 3

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

 Article II, Section 5

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

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

The points for revision/rewording are as follows:

Article I, Section 3

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

 Article II, Section 5

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

 Other outcomes from the Bylaws discussion:

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

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


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

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

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


Deacon Walter led the blessing.


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

 Respectfully submitted,

Jennifer Sabroe, Clerk

Leave a Reply