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Vestry Minutes for December 8, 2021

Updated: Aug 7, 2022

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

Guests: The Rev. Walter Ramsey; Marj Leeds, Treasurer; Columba Salamony, Seminarian; Janet Kennedy, Upper Lot Committee; 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 6:35 p.m. and led in prayer by Rev. Deb.

Bible Study. The group read and discussed Genesis 32:24-30.

Treasurer’s Report

  1. Staff cost-of-living increases for 2022: the Music Director and Office Administrator will receive the cost-of-living increase recommended by the Diocese. The Rector’s salary will be the minimum amount allowed by the formula mandated by the Diocese, which reflects the size of the parish and the Rector’s years of experience. No merit-based raises are planned.

  2. Stewardship Campaign: Very little mail has arrived lately, due to the road closure, so many pledge cards are probably held up in the mail. There is an online pledge card people can use, and it will be linked from Grace Notes. End date for stewardship campaign: December 19. (We happily accept pledge cards any time of year, but a deadline for the campaign is a helpful motivation.) Next step will be follow-up phone calls to members.

  3. It was M/S/C/ (Jane Ramsey/Amy Eudy) to adopt the statement below about the Rector’s housing. This is routine business required by the tax code. It allows the Rector to designate a portion of her salary for housing. It has no fiscal impact on the church and does not change the Rector’s salary.)

WHEREAS the Rev. Dr. Deborah White is employed as a minister of the Gospel by Grace Episcopal Church, Martinez, California, which does not provide a residence for her, the vestry of Grace Martinez resolves that of the total compensation of $92,000.00 to be paid to The Rev. Dr. Deborah White during 2022, that $50,160.00 be designated a housing allowance, within the meaning of that term as used in Section 107 of the IRS Code of 1986. The vestry further resolves that the amount designated as housing allowance shall apply to calendar year 2022 and all future years during which the above minister is employed by Grace Episcopal Church, Martinez, California.

Upper Lot Committee Report We hired DCG to produce a Request for Proposals. At this stage, we have asked them to secure Letters of Interest from developers. We hoped to have an interested development company already lined up when we go to the City of Martinez to ask for a variance from the zoning.

DCG has been working on this. Simultaneously, Reverend Deb has had conversations with the city and with local organizations that are interested in housing unhoused people.

Recently the City Council and the Planning Commission had a joint meeting to receive feedback on the proposed changes to the City’s 50-year-old master plan. State Assembly bills 9 and 10 require low-income housing, so the city will have to change its plan. Most of the feedback they received was about housing density. Rev. Deb spoke at the meeting. She is hopeful that we will get the zoning variance that we need.

In regard to the responses DCG received, you see from DCG’s chart, attached, the results of their approaches to the development companies. Most are not interested because there is plenty of property elsewhere, our lot is small, and the number of units would be too small to make the numbers work.

Of the five that were interested, one only said it would develop anything other than market-rate housing. Two are acquisition firms rather than developers, and seemed only somew

hat interested.

When we rented the Upper Lot to Las Trampas Regional Center for parking their vehicles, the Las Trampas staff mentioned that they had received a grant to provide housing for veterans and elderly people. DCG’s chart includes Las Trampas in its “not interested” section, saying “Would want full control, no partnership, require purchase, willing to give 1-2 units to church as part of deal.” Rev. Deb thinks this may be a mix-up, where DCG thought Wanda Willis was speaking for Las Trampas when she was actually speaking as head of some other project. It looks like Las Trampas Regional Center may be the organization meant to be in the “Interested” part of the chart, with “Interest letter received for 10 homes/20 condos for disabled seniors or disabled veterans.” If so, it looks promising, but we are not sure.

DCG recommends that we go back to all five on the “Interested” list, and ask the following questions:

  1. What are their funding sources?

  2. What is their timeline?

  3. How do they propose to structure the deal?

  4. How would they deal with the zoning issues?

Rev. Deb suggests, also, that we speak to Las Trampas directly, instead of only to the real estate developer who spoke to DCG for them.

Janet talked about the general plan, including its section about housing. They do need to finish updating it, which has been an ongoing project even since the time she was on the City Council. Re-zoning requires a general plan amendment, so we hope that our lot is “up-zoned” in the revision of the plan.

Hope Solutions is looking for sites for tiny homes, which could fit very well, but Grace needs any project to produce a revenue stream for the church as well. (Might the residents of the new Discovery Builders project complain about a tiny homes site? Yes, any neighbor might complain about anything we do, but that doesn’t mean they can stop us from appropriate use of our own property.)

The vestry agreed to ask DCG to go back to the five companies to ask them the four questions above.

Consent Agenda. It was M/S/C (Amy Eudy/Liz Charlton) to approve the consent agenda items: Agenda, Minutes of the November 10 meeting, Rector’s Report, Treasurer’s Report, Senior Warden’s Report.


Ministry Updates

Outreach (Service) The project for Hope Solutions provided Christmas gifts to 26 individuals in eight families. We also received a card of thanks for our Winter Nights participation in October, which is on a table in the sanctuary for everyone to see. Rev. Deb had announced that the Rector’s Discretionary Fund was in the red because there has been so much need for the funds, and the announcement spurred donations and it is now replenished.

Worship and Liturgy Season of Advent: let’s think about why we prepare. Thanks to Stephanie for skillfully altering the beautiful new blue hangings for Advent, so that they fit our altar. The services for Christmas have been decided and announced on our website and our social media.

Welcoming Tina reported that a coffee hour schedule is ready for the first quarter of 2022, to be posted on the bulletin board. She plans to bring nametag supplies and a list that people can write on if they lost their nametag so that Tina can replace it. She is planning goody bags to welcome new people to church. She would like to visit the vestry in February or so, to show a prototype of the goody bag. .A new family visited at church last Sunday, who had gotten in touch ahead of time. Rev. Deb was able to tip off key church members to watch for them and welcome them, so they were very thoroughly welcomed.

Education: We are publicizing the Advent Words program of The Episcopal Church. Godly Play, Bible Study, and book club are going along well. On January 19, Family Sunday, we are offering, “Leave your kids at church,” with supervision and activities for children, allowing parents to go have brunch or do Christmas shopping or rest for a bit.

Parish Life: Stephanie reported that Sunday’s lunch was very well attended, and some lasagna was left over to be frozen for casserole patrol. Rev. Deb thanked Stephanie for the hard work to make it happen, it was a much-needed activity and a great success.

Pastoral Care: Jane reported on calls she made.

Building and Grounds

Deck/steps off the parish hall: The railing is expected to be done by Friday.

Work Day: The past Saturday we had a very successful work day with many volunteers present. Several piles of mulch were moved. Fittings for the lights that illuminate the stained glass windows were inspected, and Jimmy Maniatis will find new ballasts for them. Liz vacuumed the sacristy. Other miscellaneous jobs were done, indoors and out.

Nominating Committee The committee has not secured candidates yet, but it is in progress.


Annual Parish Meeting is always on the fourth Sunday of January, which in 2022 is January 23. Reports are needed from committee chairs.

St. Christopher’s Guild We still need to hear from the members about the Guild, and whether they want to continue. It has a long and strong history, but had not been active even before the pandemic. Stephanie discussed it with Jo-Ann Lee, who is the current president, and has done some emailing with members. Stephanie thinks the pandemic is part of what is keeping the Guild inactive. Sally proposes holding off on any decision about it, but not forever. Liz points out that women’s guilds stem from a time when women did not have as much power in congregations as they do now. This perspective may help as the members think about how, and whether, to keep it going.

DISMISSAL Reverend Columba dismissed the meeting at 8:37 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Sarah Williams

Parish Administrator

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