A Litany for Peace in the Middle East

A LITANY FOR THE RESTORATION OF PEACE

May 14, 2021- Posted in GazaPalestine

Click here for a pdf of the litany

A Litany for the Restoration of Peace the Holy Land

God of peace, we pray for the people of Palestine and Israel in these perilous and dangerous times.

For all who are fearful for the safety of their loved ones and themselves, we pray that the assurance of unfailing love, even in the midst of danger, settles upon them. Shelter them from despair and protect them from harm.

For all who are wounded, we pray they find healing.

For all who have died, we pray they find rest.

For all who grieve, we pray they find comfort.

For leaders on all sides, we pray for a renewed will to lay down arms, for the strength to put the grievances and wrongs suffered by their people to rest, and for the conviction to embrace a path of reconciliation and peace that preserves the rights and dignity of all of your children.

God of mercy, help us to remember there is no border that can separate us from your great love and protection, no stone that can sound the well of your deep mercy.

God of justice, we pray with hopeful hearts that your beloved children of the Holy Land will be spared a future of sustained violence and unrest and that a recognition of the humanity of all people will prevail.

We ask all this in the name of your Son, Jesus. Amen.

Unadopted minutes of the April 14, 2021 Vestry meeting

Present:  The Reverend Dr. Deborah White (Rector), Liz Charlton (Jr. Warden), Chandra Damele, Amy Eudy, Sally Hanson, David Kennedy, Jane Ramsey, Stephanie Zichichi Absent: Amelia Brooks, Christina Reich, (Sr. Warden)

Guests:  The Rev. Walter  Ramsey; Jennifer Sabroe; 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 6:39 p.m. and led in prayer by Rev. Deb.

Bible Study. Numbers 11:24-30  The group read and discussed the passage.

Consent Agenda. It was M/S/C (Eudy/Hanson) to approve the consent agenda items: Minutes of last meeting; Rector’s report; Junior Warden’s Report, Treasurer’s report.

OLD BUSINESS

 Financial:  Discussed the financial situation, including some strategies for dealing with the deficit.  Vestry members will do short announcements in worship, encouraging financial support of the church’s budget.

 Ministry Updates

 Outreach (Service) The Outreach Committee has not met since the last vestry meeting. Usual projects for this time of year are support of ministry to unhoused people and preparation for backpack ministry to school. Since Martinez schools will return to in-person instruction in September, vestry suggested that Outreach begin researching the need for equipping students with school supplies. Rev. Walter will touch base with Columba Salamony, Seminarian, who is currently convening the Outreach committee.

Worship and Liturgy  The Bishop had a meeting with clergy today and said that indoor worship will be allowed starting on Pentecost, although parishes need to submit a plan again and wait for approval from the Diocese.  The Worship and Liturgy Committee meets with Regathering Committee tomorrow, and will discuss plans.

Family Eucharist the third Sunday of each month will be like the 11:30 service on Easter.  We have created a heavy-duty, laminated, permanent printed bulletin for these Family Sunday services, rather than printing new ones each time.  The music for the service is very child-friendly.

Rev. Deb reported that there will be a baptism this summer. Since the family cannot do it on Pentecost, she is thinking of coordinating with the 150th anniversary committee and doing it for “The Feast of Grace” in July.

 Welcoming (Evangelism): No report as Christina was not present.

Education:  Godly Play continues online.  We might begin having outdoor Godly Play when in-person services begin again.

No Faithful Forum this month.

New Bible Study for the Easter Season.

Antiracism workshop continues.

Book Club continues.

Parish Life:   Stephanie has met with a small group some Sundays.  Rev. Deb would like to have a “Welcome Back” picnic when we start again.  (Our start date will depend on everyone having the opportunity to be vaccinated.  June may be more likely.)

Pastoral Care:  The list is long and keeps getting longer.  Casserole Patrol and Deacon’s Pantry are going fine at the moment.

Stewardship: Rev, Deb received notice of a Stewardship workshop from the diocese. Christina is unable to attend. Amy is interested. Rev. Deb will forward Amy the information.

Buildings and Grounds

Liz reported that she is working on getting the back stair project going.

 Labyrinth: Rev. Deb indicated that the vestry was supposed to vote on a budget for the Labyrinth project at tonight’s meeting. Tina was going to present several options in a range of prices, but since Tina is ill tonight this will be tabled until next month’s meeting.

 Upper Lot consultant update:  Amy reported that the Upper Lot committee met with three consultancy companies.  They decided that they need more information before choosing a company, and might seek referrals for more companies. As soon as the Upper Lot committee makes a decision as to which consultant they prefer they will make a recommendation to the vestry.

 Phone Tree:  Rev. Deb asked for a check-in on how the revised phone tree is working. Amy reported that she enjoyed doing her calls.  Chandra has one person on her list whom she wasn’t able to track down.  Some concern was expressed about some folks who are hard to reach and follow-up was discussed. Mostly it is going well.

Rev. Deb’s MMR: Rev. Deb noted that she is overdue for a Mutual Ministry Review (MMR), which is how the church conducts employee evaluations. It is done in this way because Rev. Deb shares her work with the leadership of the parish so they discuss their work together. Sr. Warden Christina Reich was going to coordinate this process at tonight’s meeting, but since she is ill, this will have to be postponed until next month.

 NEW BUSINESS

 Informational items to know: 

After the consultant on the Upper Lot gives us a report, there will be a congregational meeting at which the results of the report will be presented.  The vestry will not make a decision on what to do about the Upper Lot until after the whole parish has had the chance to hear the report. Rev. Deb asked the vestry to please spread the word.

The Canon to the Ordinary, Abbott Bailey, is leaving the Diocese for a job in her home Diocese of Virginia.  This means that Rev. Deb, as the president of the Standing Committee, will have more work during the transition period when there is a gap in the leadership.

Rev. Deb indicated she will be activating the phone tree. In the past she has done this at the vestry meeting, but since the structure has changed, she will do it by email.

DISMISSAL  Rev. Walter led the dismissal and the meeting adjourned at 8:08 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Sarah Williams

Parish Administrator

Grace Episcopal Church March 6, 2021 Unadopted Vestry Minutes

Present: The Reverend Dr. Deborah White (Rector), Christina Reich, (Sr. Warden), Liz Charlton (Jr. Warden), Amelia Brooks, Chandra Damele, Amy Eudy, Sally Hanson, David Kennedy, Jane Ramsey, Stephanie Zichichi

Guests: Columba Salamony, Field Education Student; The Rev. Walter Ramsey

 Call to Order: Reverend Deb called the meeting to order at 4:26 pm.

This meeting took place at the close of the Vestry’s Annual Retreat.

No Rector’s Report. Rev Deb will be on vacation 4/5 – 4/12/2021. The Sunday, 4/12/21 service will be Morning Prayer will Columba presiding, Rev. Walter preaching, and Arthur Omura running the simulcast.

No Sr. Warden Report. Tina reported that the Items she needed to report are already included in this agenda.

Jr. Warden Report: Liz reported there is going to be a Buildings and Grounds workday prior to our return to indoor worship on 3/20/2021 from 9:30 am to 12 noon.

February Vestry Meeting Minutes: It was M/S/C (Liz/Amy) to approve the February Vestry minutes as corrected: Labyrinth site visit was in February not March.

Treasurer’s Report:

 Year to Date Feb 28, 2021

Actual Budget
Income Year to Date $ 26,729.48 $32,698.00
Expenses Year to Date $ 38,348.89 $37,210.50
Deficit $ 11,619.41 $4,512.50

 Income is $5968 below budget expectation (really bad).  All of the deficit is in pledge income.  $4000 of that $6000 is accounted for (pledgers let me know income would come in later in year).  The Treasurer believes that quite a bit of that pledge deficit is mail delays and is not yet in panic mode.  

  1. Expenses are above budget because the Treasurer intentionally paid an extra month of pension ($1290) to avoid future late charges with mail delays.
  2. Bottom line – We expected a deficit in 2021, but it is even worse than predicted.  We believe we know why, and it will work out that the deficit for the year is $26,882.

Since we are continuing to run a deficit budget, Gary Spenik suggested that we try a Facebook fundraiser to “Close the Gap.” It was M/S/C (Amy/Jane) to approve the Treasurer’s Report as presented.

Winter Nights: Tina reported that we are all set to host Winter Nights beginning this Monday through Thursday. Zandonella’s Catering in Martinez will provide four hot dinners:

  • New York Steaks, potatoes, veggies
  • BBQ chicken, baked beans, roasted corn
  • Roasted Pork loin, with a seasoned rice and veggies
  • Roasted Italian Chicken with pasta (creamy pesto) and Veggies.
  • All dinners with come with Dinner rolls, butter chips, side salad and brownies/cookies, silverware and napkins all wrapped up individually (COVID Compliant)

Shopping for breakfast and lunch items will be done Sunday afternoon and delivered early Monday morning. Chandra Damele and Pat Hambly will help deliver dinners to the church where the families are being housed.

 Labyrinth Report: Tina reported that the Labyrinth Committee is on hold until after the April Vestry meeting where we will vote on the amount of funds to devote to the Labyrinth. The site visit last week with the designer, Lars Howlett, went well. A water source runs under our lawn that may affect the design of the labyrinth. Jr. Warden Liz will determine where and how deep the water is. There are essentially three areas of the lawn to re-design: the labyrinth could go in the middle with the area close to the Parish Hall being used for outdoor events and the area near the parking lot for use by the children. We will be bringing three designs to the congregation for a vote once we determine the budget for the project.

Phone Tree: The new phone tree was shared, and one change requested: Michelle Coyle-Sweet will go on Liz Charlton’s list. The calls serve the following purposes:

  • Connect with parishioner – ask how it is going. Pass on any pastoral care concerns to Rev Deb.
  • Share special topics that are announced at Vestry meetings or in between by Rev Deb.
  • The phone tree is activated today for the following items:
  • Regathering: We are on track to have several Easter services as we anticipate approval of worship inside at 25% capacity by then and we hope to have some inside services for Holy Week as well.
  • Ask parishioners if they have questions about anything, i.e., upper lot, etc.
  • Regular check in

Upper Lot: Amy reported that the committee had a great meeting with Kathleen Piraino from the Episcopal Impact Fund (EIF). She recommended a consultant that will do a best use survey to determine what we can and cannot build up there. Consultant fees are $10,000 and the EIF will pay half. They want the congregation to pay half to show that we have a commitment to the project. It was M/S/C (Tina/Jane) to approve $5,000 for the hiring of a consultant for the upper lot project. Discussion: is this the most funding we will put out? Answer: the goal is to spend other people’s money and that is more likely if we do it the right way from the beginning. Passed unanimously.

Adjourn: The meeting was adjourned at 5pm.

 

 

Grace Episcopal Church January 13, 2021 Vestry Minutes

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

OLD BUSINESS

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.

Ministry Updates

Outreach (Service) 

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.

Welcoming (Evangelism) 

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.

Education  

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.

Pastoral Care  

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.

Parish Life  

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.

Upper Lot

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.

NEW BUSINESS

Gratitude

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. 

Respectfully submitted,

 Sarah Williams

Parish Administrator

Grace Episcopal Church Martinez, February 10, 2021 Vestry Minutes

Present:  The Reverend Dr. Deborah White (Rector), Christina Reich, (Sr. Warden), Liz Charlton (Jr. Warden), Amelia Brooks, Chandra Damele, Amy Eudy, Sally Hanson, David Kennedy, Jane Ramsey, Stephanie Zichichi

 

Guests:  Marj Leeds, Treasurer; Columba Salamony, Field Education Student; The Rev. Walter  Ramsey; Jennifer Sabroe; Beth 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 6:00 p.m. and led in prayer by Rev. Deb.

Bible Study. The Call, Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20, Luke 5:1-11, and John 1:35-51.   The group read and discussed the passages.

Consent Agenda. It was M/S/C (Reich/Eudy) to approve the consent agenda items: Minutes of last meeting; Rector’s report; Senior Warden’s Report, Junior Warden’s Report, Treasurer’s report.

OLD BUSINESS

 2021 Budget Approval

Treasurer Marj Leeds outlined the proposed 2021 budget. It was M/S/C (Eudy/Kennedy) to approve the budget as presented.

Stewardship Drive Wrap-Up.  A few stray pledges have not come in, but most of those households have sent their January and February donations, so we are able to conclude what their giving plans are for 2021.

 Upper Lot:

Amy reports that she and Rev. Deb met with Abbot Bailey, the Canon to the Ordinary, and Kathleen Piraino, the Executive Director of the Episcopal Impact Fund.  The Upper Lot Committee will have Kathleen at its next meeting, later this month, in order to find out more about the logistical and financial help they can offer. The issue of how the fact-finding phase of the proposed Upper Lot development might be funded was discussed in some detail. The issue at hand is whether to hire a consultant to assist us with determining the highest and best use of our property, including whether the project we would like to do is financially and logistically feasible. Several churches, including the two the vestry met with, proceeded without consultants, but both Abbott and Kathleen warned that some congregations (even those with a great deal of development expertise) have encountered unexpected costs later in the process after going it alone in the early stages. If we decided to work with a consultant as recommended by the diocese, Episcopal Impact Fund would pay half the cost of a consultant, who would take us from the beginning up to the point where we have a development partner (an organization that would build and run the project).  After that, the Diocese will likely put in some money toward the project as well.  Because Grace holds the property in trust for the Diocese, projects like this go through the Diocesan legal department in addition to being approved by our own legal advisors.  Vestry members who need assistance in answering parishioner questions about this process should feel free to include Amy and Rev. Deb in any correspondence about it. Vestry members are encouraged to attend the Upper Lot meeting. There will be a report on the meeting at the upcoming vestry retreat.

Ministry Updates

 Outreach (Service) Walter has been attending outreach-related meetings and webinars.

Tina reported that the Winter Nights project needs more funds raised to reach the $1,230 total.  We are providing the meals for the Winter Nights shelter March 8-11. (The shelter will not be at Grace.)  Due to the pandemic, we are able only to provide catered dinners and groceries that the residents will use to make their own breakfasts and lunches. This is more expensive than simply making and delivering meals as we did last year.

Winter Nights, which is now officially a 501©, is also opening a “safe parking” site in Pleasant Hill, where people living in their cars can park at night.  It will feature a police presence and possibly showers and other facilities.

Worship and Liturgy  Sally reported that the committee has planned for two different ways to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday:  pick up ashes ahead of time and then administer them to yourself while watching the livestreamed service or attend a short drive-in service (broadcast to your car radio!) with imposition of ashes by Rev. Deb and Columba.

The Regathering Committee decided that it is best to continue simulcast worship only, until we can have worship indoors.

While we have virtual services and activities planned for all of Holy Week, we very much hope that indoor services, with modifications for safety, will be possible on Easter Sunday itself.  This will require conducting multiple services in order to give everyone a chance to attend.  The hope is for an Easter Vigil plus three Easter Sunday services.

It is likely that the Diocese will first allow indoor services at 25% of the capacity of the sanctuary.

Grace Notes has many suggestions of things you can do to observe Lent.

Rev. Walter is offering an online Sarum Prayer by Zoom every day but Sundays during Lent.

New Lenten Bible study begins Wednesday.

 Welcoming (Evangelism): Tina reports that coffee hour has had more participants lately.  New Zoom hosts are still welcome.  Tina has two new members for the committee. Rev. Deb encouraged Tina to reach out to our online members too.

 Education:  Amelia reported that Godly Play is ongoing, Youth Group has a Zoom meeting planned for this month, the Antiracism book group continues, Bible study continues, and there is a Faithful Forum this month in which Jennifer Sabroe will introduce Lent Madness.

Pastoral Care:  Rev. Deb reported that, as we can all see from the prayer list every Sunday, the parish’s pastoral care needs keep increasing.  There have also been several deaths among loved ones of parishioners. COVID has crept closer.  She is happy to report that some parishioners have already received COVID vaccinations.

 Parish Life:  Stephanie reported that there will be an outdoor, socially distanced, masked picnic this Sunday, February 14, with everyone bringing their own lawn chairs and lunches.

Buildings and Grounds

Labyrinth:  The committee has looked at labyrinth designs all over, and has met twice with Lars Howlett, a labyrinth designer and consultant.  They have decided to hire Lars to assist with the project, after getting references from four churches who have used his service. They have planned a site visit with him on Saturday, February 27, at 2:00, and the parish is invited to attend.  The committee plans to present some designs to the parish and asking for input. This project is funded by a bequest, and it also may bring in some money because the water district offers incentives for removing lawns.

 Roses:  The removal of rose bushes appears to be almost done, with only one remaining.

 NEW BUSINESS

 Since we have new Vestry members, we need to determine who will serve as liaisons to which of our service areas. Rev. Deb gave a brief summary of the SWWEPS acronym and how we use it and then the group discussed who would like to serve in which area of ministry.

 Vestry Liaisons to SWWEPS ministries for 2021

Outreach (Service) – Chandra

Worship and Liturgy – Sally

Welcoming (Evangelism) – Amy

Education – Amelia

Pastoral Care – Jane

Parish Life – Stephanie, David

Stewardship means “Caring for what God has given us.” – As Junior Warden, Liz responsible for the property we have (Buildings and Grounds) liaison. Tina offered to chair the stewardship campaign this year (Caring for the community of Grace by sharing our time, talent, and treasure with one another).

Vestry Retreat will be held on March 6, 1-4 pm on Zoom.

 Communications at Grace

 Feedback from Congregation/Transparency:  We have had some trouble recently with individuals feeling that they have been left out of church communications. Apparently, the phone tree has broken down several times and some folks have reported that they do not receive phone tree calls.

The pandemic has added to most people’s anxiety, and the unfamiliar technology we must use to conduct our church life adds to the problem.  We depend very much on Grace Notes, the weekly parish email, for disseminating information to the parish.  Grace Notes is sent to around 160 email addresses, and about half open it. Often people complain that information isn’t being shared even when it has appeared in Grace Notes multiple times and been announced at the simulcast service. We very much encourage people to ask questions, send email, and leave voicemails at the church office. Vestry members are key communicators, so they should feel free to ask questions until they are sure they understand the issues so they can explain them properly.

 Now that we have a new vestry, we need reorganize the phone tree call lists. The intent of the phone tree is that Rev. Deb activates it whenever she decides is right, usually around once per month.  Calls should begin with asking how the household is doing and determining if there is a pastoral need that Rev. Deb should know about.  After that, there is usually a short list of topics that callers should inform people about, such as important upcoming events.

Some vestry members reported that, despite their best intentions, they are sometimes unable to make their calls. Rev. Deb said that assigned callers should feel free to speak up if they won’t have time to do their calls in any given month. It is understandable if you can’t do them, but it is important for us to know you can’t. Your calls can be farmed out to another caller.

Vestry members are requested to decide whether they can do calls on a regular basis.  Sarah and Rev. Deb will adjust the phone lists to account for the parishioners who have moved away or joined the church, and to account for changes in who will make calls.

 Realm/Directory:  We are renewing the communication about how to use the online church directory, and we will also offer a form for people to fill out, giving permission to be included in a printed directory outside of Realm.  Also, we have added a button linking to Realm at the bottom of each Grace Notes. Stephanie has encouraged everyone to keep their contact information updated in Realm.

 DISMISSAL  Rev. Walter led the dismissal and the meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Sarah Williams

Parish Administrator

October 14, 2020 Vestry Minutes

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:  The Rev. Walter Ramsey, Columba Salamony, Field Education Student, Jennifer Sabroe, 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 6:06 p.m. and led in prayer by Rev. Deb.

Bible Study. Deuteronomy 10:17-19, Isaiah 43:18-21, Luke 9:23-25, Matthew 25:31-46.    The group read and discussed the passages related to our work at Grace..

Consent Agenda. It was M/S/C (Towey/Kennedy) to approve the consent agenda items: Minutes of September 9, 2020; Rector’s Report; Treasurer’s Report; Senior Warden Report

OLD BUSINESS

 Movie NighThe movie night was fun, and drew ten or eleven cars, many children, and included some neighbors who were not church members.  It was advertised on Martinez Patch and Martinez Rants and Raves.  Since we invited the general public, we had to pay for the rights to show the film, which in this case was $250.  If we show a movie only to our own group, meaning we can name every person we are inviting, then we can show it without paying for the screening rights.

 Ministry Updates

 Outreach  Walter reported that we plan to participate in Winter Nights again this winter.  Due to the pandemic, we can only provide food by buying food prepared in a professional kitchen.  This means we may not be able to do our usual four nights — maybe around $1000 to provide three meals/day for four days.  The Outreach Committee will need to decide whether to do all four nights.  We will need to seek donations to cover the cost of the meals, and Rev. Deb may be able to bridge any gap using the Rector’s Discretionary Fund.

 

Jennifer and Dru are working with Hope Solutions, formerly known as Contra Costa Interfaith Housing, on their Spirit of Giving Tree for Christmas.  Understandably, due to the pandemic, they want gift cards this year instead of gifts.

 

Worship and Liturgy  The committee meets tomorrow.  We are waiting to hear from the county and the diocese regarding moving the in-person worship services indoors. Tina says there has been a bit of a spike in infections, so it will be two more weeks before the county moves to “orange” status.  If the county reaches “orange” status, that should lead to indoor worship being allowed.  The 8:00 (outdoors, in person) and 10:00 (livestream on Facebook) Sunday services are very successful.  We have many worship services on weekdays as well.

 

The responses to the survey regarding communion:  five people said yes, they would like to have communion, and five said no.  (Two additional responses came during the meeting, so it now stands at 6-6.)

 

Welcoming  Jane has a colleague who has been attending worship now and then, at Jane’s invitation.  Tina reports that she and Jennifer Sabroe have shared the hosting duties for virtual coffee hour, but would still like more help.  Barbara Brooks and Amelia Lytton may pitch in as well.

 

Education  Godly Play is wonderful on Facebook, and has between 20 and 50 views each week.  Marj is also working to figure out a Christmas pageant.  There is a Faithful Forum this Sunday.

 

Pastoral Care  Connie reports that the freezer needs more casseroles (not too spicy, please, and either vegetarian or not is fine).  The Deacon’s pantry is fairly full.  People continue to come by and visit, and Deb tries to track them.  Please continue to let her know if someone needs help.  Denise Hanson’s newest grandchild was born today:  Jaxon Flaskerud.

 

Parish Life  No immediate plans for an event, although some possibilities have been discussed. Rev. Deb asked Stephanie if she would consider expanding the group of folks who have been meeting outside in the church parking lot on Sunday afternoons and Stephanie said she would.

 

Stewardship  Rev. Deb deferred the discussion on stewardship until later in the meeting.

 

Buildings and Grounds

 

Back stairs off the kitchen:  They are in progress, with a code-compliant railing lacking.

 

Construction easement:  The vehicles owned by Las Trampas Regional Center, which pays to park them at Grace, have been moved down from the upper lot to the main lot, for the duration of Discovery Builders’ use of the easement.

 

Video and Sound System/Audiovisual Booth:  New equipment is about 70% installed.  There is a speaker in the atrium and a speaker in the narthex, so we can send the sound from inside the church to those places.  The future audiovisual booth off the choir loft is closer to ready, with a mixing board installed.  Video cameras not installed yet.  The company is expected to finish the work before the end of October.

 

Re-keying the church:  We want to re-key the whole church, partly in order to start over giving keys to people who need them now.  The pandemic is a good time to do it because the locksmith will not have to work around activities.  It was M/S/C (Reich/Towey) to approve the expenditure of $1500 for this purpose.  Connie comments that the main two doors to the parish hall also need some maintenance.

 

Upper Lot  No news to report from the past month.  The committee is chaired by Janet Kennedy, and members include Nica Kleinschmidt, Dick Evans, and Liz Charleton.

 

Return to church   The diocese is allowing up to 50 attendees outdoors and up to 10 indoors, but the county is not allowing indoor worship at the moment. Rev. Deb had thought of possibly conducting an indoor service at 8:00 and an outdoor service at 10:00, since the allowed numbers would correspond fairly well to our usual attendance pattern.  However, interest in attending in-person worship has been low.

 

The diocese has offered options for the Eucharist, and the option our Worship and Liturgy Committee believes would be best is the delivery or pickup of pre-consecrated bread, which would then be consumed together during a live-streamed or in-person service.  We would have one “spiritual Eucharist” at which Rev. Deb would consecrate bread that would not be consumed that day, and the following week we would have a service that was like Morning Prayer, except that at some point everyone would take the bread consecrated the week before.  (The service would be like a Good Friday service, like a “Deacon’s Mass,” or like when a Eucharistic Visitor takes communion to someone at home.)

 

Similarly, baptism is now allowed, with only the family and priest gathering in person.  We will baptize Andrew Senn on All Saints’ Day, immediately following the simulcast Holy Eucharist, so that the congregation can participate by watching from home.

 

Funerals and memorial services are also allowed now, and we have held two:  one (for Tom Taylor)  indoors with ten or fewer people, and one (for Pam Nave’s brother) outdoors with 25 people.  Both worked well.

 

We are still only allowed to conduct weddings online.

 

Re-branding, new logo   Grace staff has developed a new logo, using the traditional anchor and the tagline “Love in Action.”  It has red and blue like the Episcopal Church’s logo.  We will use the font and colors from the logo in Grace Notes, stationery, the website, and so on, to have a harmonious look.

 

We are adjusting Grace Notes to be shorter, especially by linking out to the website (“click here to read more”) instead of including the full text of each item in the email.  We hope to get the most important new information across to readers while also making it easier for readers to find the information that they want.

 

We are creating a new version of our website with Wix, and we hope to launch it soon.

 

Multi-format platform  At the moment we simulcast services using Facebook Live, because it’s free of charge.  For various reasons, we would like to broadcast from multiple platforms at once.  This may require spending some money, although not an amount that will require vestry approval.  We hope to be ready to do this before Christmas.

 

Stewardship Drive  Amelia volunteered to serve as stewardship chair. Jane, Connie, and Christina offered to assist.

 

NEW BUSINESS

 

LabyrinthIrene Plunkett, labyrinth facilitator, would like to come talk to us about what other churches in the diocese have done with labyrinths.

 

Pandemic check-in

Rev. Deb reported that she is very concerned about the post-pandemic future of Grace. She referenced two articles she had sent to the vestry indicating that one in five churches are predicted to close by the end of the pandemic. She noted that many churches have not been able to adapt to having to use technology more to stay in community and took the opportunity to point out that Grace would not have been either were it not for Gary Spenik. Rev. Deb noted that Grace has risen to the occasion by instituting three more weekly services and continuing many fellowship and service meetings online. Staff has taken the opportunity of having fewer people accessing the property to take care of long-term projects like installing a new audio-visual system and rekeying the buildings.

 

Rev. Deb is very concerned, however, that people do not seem interested in taking advantage of these opportunities. As referenced in her Rector’s report, the numbers of people reading Grace Notes and attending the on-line service are consistently down. For example, at the beginning of the pandemic our Average Sunday Attendance (ASA) was approximately 100 across two services. It is now approximately half that. On the other hand, we are drawing folks from a broader geographical area to our on-line service, but it takes strategy and time to nurture those individuals and it’s hard to determine what these numbers will mean once the pandemic is over.

 

On a personal note, Rev. Deb voiced her concern that her general philosophy of leadership is that it should be shared and transparent and that the parish has worked hard to establish that model over the last three years. Since the pandemic, however, we have moved back into a model in which a handful of people are running the church with very little broad input from the congregation. Rev. Deb noted that a major rebranding project was an example of this trend. She also identified the Stewardship Drive as one area for which she has asked for help for several months and no one has volunteered to assist, even though this is a crucially important task during the pandemic and Rev. Deb is already feeling overwhelmed. She also noted that despite the fact that we are now able to have more in-person activities, few people have shown interest in hosting or attending them.

A lengthy conversation followed. Senior Warden Christina Reich offered helpful and supportive ideas and encouragement. Several vestry members volunteered to assist with stewardship. Stephanie volunteered to host an in-person fellowship event. Following the conversation, there was an overall improvement in determination and optimism in ensuring the future of Grace.

DISMISSAL  Rev. Walter led the dismissal and the meeting adjourned at 8:13 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Sarah Williams

Parish Administrator

 

November 11, 2020 Grace Vestry minutes

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:  Irene Plunkett; Columba Salamony, Field Education Student; Jennifer Sabroe; 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 6:03 p.m. and led in prayer by Rev. Deb.

 Bible Study. Matthew 61:24-34   The group read and discussed the passages related to our work at Grace.

Consent Agenda. It was M/S/C (Towey/Hanson) to approve the consent agenda items: Minutes of October 14, 2020; Rector’s Report; Treasurer’s Report; Senior Warden Report

OLD BUSINESS

LabyrinthIrene Plunkett, labyrinth facilitator, spoke to the Vestry about different types of labyrinths and led a preliminary discussion about the possibility of Grace putting in a labyrinth in memorial to Michelle Lynch.

Ministry Updates

Outreach  

Winter Nights:  Winter Nights is a collaborative program among local churches to house families without housing during the Winter months. Grace has volunteered to provide the meals for the week of March 8-11, 2021. It will be more expensive this year because of COVID restrictions requiring that food must come from a commercial kitchen. This means that we will need to fundraise so we can buy food instead of preparing it ourselves.

The Spirit of Giving:  Jennifer reported that Grace agreed to take care of twenty people, providing gift cards for groceries and gifts, $75/person, so $1500 total.  Hope Solutions will get the cards; all we need to do is provide the money.  Deadline is early December, so we are working on it fast. Rev. Deb has agreed to cover any shortfall from her Rector’s Discretionary Fund.

Worship and Liturgy  

Sally and Rev. Deb reported that we are taking a big leap this Sunday, to limited attendance in-person, indoor worship.  There are many precautions being taken. All the details (the requirements, what will happen in church, and so forth) have been provided in an email from Rev. Deb to the entire mailing list and are repeated in Grace Notes. The W&L committee meets next week, so they will be able to discuss how the first indoor service went. Rev. Deb emphasized that we will continue to simulcast regardless of whether we continue indoor or outdoor in-person services.

Welcoming  

Christina thanked  Jennifer for her help with coffee hour.  Christina also hosts when she can be there. She plans to recruit more volunteers.

Education  

Amelia reported that the second part of the Braver Angels “With Malice Toward None” event takes place this Sunday.  Two sessions will be held on Sunday -one for those “delighted” with the outcome of the presidential election (by Zoom hosted by St. Paul’s Walnut Creek) and one for those “distressed” with the outcome (on Zoom hosted by Grace at 10:30).

Godly Play weekly recordings by Marj are going well with an average of 25-50 views on our Facebook page weekly.

Pastoral Care  

Connie reported that the casserole supply is replenished. Rev. Deb indicated that there haven’t been any coronavirus cases in Grace itself, but some parishioners have had family members test positive.

Parish Life  

Stephanie reported that the outdoor get-together drew sixteen people and was very nice.  It was easy to organize and if the weather warms up we can do it again.

Youth group had a masked, distanced, in-person Halloween party, which was very good.

Book club continues on-line.

Stewardship  

The committee is Amelia, Tina, Jane, and Connie.  Amelia reported that we will have a stewardship message from the committee in the service this Sunday.  The stewardship letter went out late last week.  We hope to wrap up the campaign by the end of November.

Buildings and Grounds 

Back stairs off the kitchen:  Railing has still not been completed. There is some confusion about who is completing the project. Rev. Deb will check in with Dick Evans and Jim Maniatis.

Video and Sound System/Audiovisual Booth:  The new system is installed!  Our insurance is paying for the new A/V equipment that was stolen.  

Re-keying the church:  Vestry members and other volunteers who need a key can pick it up on Wednesday or Sunday when Rev. Deb is there.

Break-in:  The thieves broke doors that had been fixed when the rekeying was done.  The insurance plans to pay for the doors.

Security system:  Rev. Deb reported that the police recommended we get a monitored security system.  Connie Towey motioned andTina Reich seconded a  motion to authorize Rev. Deb and Gary to take care of it.  Since Rev. Deb expects it to cost less than $1,000, it is not necessary for the Vestry to authorize the purchase, but the group agreed by acclamation that it should be done.

Garden:  The rose bushes are being taken out.  The cadre of people who cared for them is gone or needs to retire from it, and it is time-consuming and expensive to take care of them.  We are going to put in more water-efficient and less time-consuming plants.  Josh is heading this up.  There will be opportunities to adopt a rose bush (but you have to take it away to your place!)

Upper Lot Committee Status  Nothing to report.

Return to church   See Worship and Liturgy report.

Multi-platform software  We would like to simulcast on platforms other than Facebook. We have something we are going to try for free, and if we adopt it will be very low-cost.

Stewardship Drive  

Rev. Deb activated the phone tree:  When making calls please encourage people to send in their pledge cards and remind folks about the indoor, in-person worship service this week (see Worship and Liturgy report).

NEW BUSINESS

2021 Budget process  Once the pledge drive is done, we will see how it looks. Finance committee is Dick Evans, Marj Leeds, and Rev. Deb.  In December the vestry will receive a skeleton budget and will be asked to consent to next year’s salaries. The vestry will not approve the budget until January after which it will be presented to the congregation at the Annual Meeting.

Annual meeting  Rev. Deb reminded the vestry that there will be an annual meeting regardless of the pandemic. It is required by our by-laws. It is likely that it will be held virtually on Zoom. Rev. Deb asked vestry members to begin to think of folks they feel would be good vestry members or deanery/diocesan convention delegates.

Thanksgiving dinner substitute The Annual Grace Community Thanksgiving Dinner has been cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rev. Deb has asked folks to donate the amount they would have spent on a dish to share to an organization that is providing meals to hungry folks for Thanksgiving. Christina reported that Loaves and Fishes is providing full dinners on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Several other organizations are providing Thanksgiving baskets for delivery.

Website preview

Rev. Deb reported that she and Sarah have been working on the new website. She offered to provide a preview to the vestry but folks agreed that they’d rather wait until it was ready to launch.

DISMISSAL  Columba Salamony led the dismissal and the meeting adjourned at 7:45 p.m. 

Respectfully submitted,

 Sarah Williams

Parish Administrator

Grace Episcopal Church holds 150th Annual Meeting despite pandemic

Annual Meeting Summary

Many thanks to everyone who worked so hard to make our atypical Annual Meeting a success. We not only had an online quorum on Zoom, but we had about the same number of folks as we had in person last year. Special thanks to our Parish Administrator, Sarah Williams, our former Parish Administrator Jennifer Sabroe, and our Treasurer Marj Leeds, who worked double-time to get things in working order. The following items of business were accomplished:

We elected three new vestry members: Liz Charlton, Amy Eudy, and Sally Hanson. Liz will serve as our new Junior Warden. Christina Reich will continue as Senior Warden.

We elected three Deanery/Diocesan Convention Representatives and one Alternate: Barbara Brooks, Pat Hambly, Jennifer Sabroe, and Jane Ramsey (alternate).

We reviewed the 2021 Budget and addressed with concern the projected $19,000 deficit.

We discussed the long-term future of Grace and recommitted ourselves to our mission to “Welcome, support, and serve all God’s people.”

We discussed the Upper Lot development project.

Reverend Deb honored Mary Canale, John Lee, Jennifer Sabroe, and Connie Towey for their long-term service to Grace.

You can find the power point for the meeting here.

Response to Attack on US Capitol

Brethren in Christ,

Yesterday on the Feast of the Epiphany, a day in which we as Christians look to the light of Christ, events of great darkness took place in the capitol of our country. Individuals attempted to use violence and intimidation to circumvent a process which was created and has been upheld by individuals of different parties and opinions for over two hundred years. Tragically, as such behavior so often does, this behavior ended in death and destruction. I recognize that many people are fearful and living in pain right now. It is in such times that we must remember that it is out of darkness that light shines and that Jesus is the light of the world. It is our responsibility as a community of Christ to pray for the people of our nation and I ask you to do so, using the words found in our Book of Common Prayer (p. 820):

Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage:
We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will.
Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners.
Save us from violence, discord, and confusion;
from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way.
Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes
brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues.
Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust
the authority of government, that there may be justice and
peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we
may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth.
In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness,
and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail;
all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Remember, sisters and brothers, that prayer works, but it does not relieve us of our responsibility to enact our civic responsibilities knowing that God’s will for us is justice, love, and peace.

For further wisdom and comfort, please view the wise words of our diocesan bishop, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Marc Andrus, found at this link and those of our presiding bishop, The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, found here.

God is present.

With faith,
Rev. Deb