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Minutes of Annual Vestry Retreat March 26, 2022

Updated: Sep 19, 2022

Grace Episcopal Church

Martinez, California

Meeting by Video Conference

Present: The Reverend Dr. Deborah White (Rector), Amelia Brooks (Sr. Warden), Shannon Kleinschmit (Jr. Warden), Liz Charlton, Chandra Damele, Amy Eudy, Ann Fisher, Dru Grissom, Sally Hanson, Jane Ramsey

Guests: The Rev. Walter Ramsey, Columba Salamony (Field Education student)

M/S/C denotes motion made, seconded and carried. The names following M/S/C in parentheses denote the persons who made the motion and seconded it.

Call to Order and Morning Prayer. The meeting was called to order at 9 a.m., followed by Morning Prayer.


Reverend Deb introduced the theme of the retreat, “Now we see in a mirror dimly.” She explained that the day’s work would focus on seeing where the church has been, where we are now, and planning for the future.

During the course of the day, the group also participated in some “getting to know you” exercises and noonday and early evening prayers.

What it means to be a member of the Vestry

Rev. Deb shared some materials explaining what it means to be called to the ministry of vestry member. Vestry members shared their thoughts.

Review of where we’ve been

Rev. Deb led a discussion about the progress and changes in the parish during her tenure. She started by reviewing what the parish (via its search profile) reported wanting in a rector. Her 2020 Mutual Ministry Review (MMR), and the Mission and Vision statements were also reviewed and discussed.

Review of where we are now

The group talked about the current status of church membership and finances and the influence of the pandemic on this information. Rev. Deb also shared some statistics regarding the changing nature of church attendance (lower across all denominations), the aging of the church (particularly prevalent in The Episcopal Church), and income levels across the church (stable).

The group specifically discussed changes that have occurred during the pandemic, including the way in which we have dropped back from a pastoral/programmatic model in managing the congregation to a family model due to COVID protocol. We also talked about the specific changes resulting from our need to go online.

The Vestry then reviewed our process in seeking to find a missional way to use our unused property (the upper lot) and where we are in that process currently. Rev. Deb reported that she is working with the Martinez government to have the property rezoned so that we can continue with our plans to build low-income housing on the lot.

Discussion of where we are going/future plans

The Vestry addressed the topic of sustainability: what it is, how we can make it happen for Grace, and what are its components? We identified several aspects of sustainability and discussed which items are negotiable and which are not.

This led to a discussion of issues to have our eyes on as we recover from the pandemic and attempt to move forward, including the importance of being true to our mission and vision statements. We discussed the components of “mission,” including evangelism, outreach, and worship.The group participated in a personality exercise designed to shed information on the nature of current church members and how that influences evangelism. Based on the exercise, we developed the following questions:

1) Who do we want to invite into our parish?

2) Do we expect these people to be like us or different?

3) Are we ready to welcome new people or not?

4) Are we willing to change in order to welcome new people?

Ultimately, the group decided that our future is not assured but we are optimistic about it.

Vestry business meeting

The Vestry then conducted its regular business, including:

M/S/C of reports and last month’s minutes

Updates on Buildings and Grounds issues (water usage and work on the Parish Hall back steps)

The return of the VPOD (Vestry person of the day) protocol

The exit of one Field Education student (Columba) and the possibility that we will have another in the fall

Approval Rev. Deb’s Easter vacation

Cancellation of the April Vestry meeting

DISMISSAL Rev. Deb dismissed the meeting at 2:47 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

The Rev. Deborah White, Ph.D.

Secretary Pro-tem (and Rector)

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