Grace Church May Vestry Minutes

Grace Episcopal Church,  Martinez, California

Meeting by Video Conference

Unadopted Minutes of Vestry Meeting, May 12, 2021

 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, Stephanie Zichichi 

Absent: Jane Ramsey

Guests:  The Rev. Walter Ramsey; Jennifer Sabroe; Columba Salamony (Seminarian), 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 6:32 p.m. and led in prayer by Rev. Deb.

Bible Study. Acts 3:1-16.  The group read and discussed the passage about talking about our faith.

Consent Agenda. It was M/S/C (Reich/Hanson) to remove the Treasurer’s Report from the Consent agenda and to approve the remaining consent agenda items: Agenda, Minutes of the April 14m 2021 meeting, Rector’s report, Senior Warden’s Report, Junior Warden’s Report.


Treasrer’s Report  Marj reported that pledge income is off by $6000.  This was somewhat obscured by a large donation for Easter.  Marj does expect some of the outstanding pledges to come in still. The final settlement of a parishioner’s estate came in, and was not listed on this month’s report as income in order not to obscure the fact that we are still far behind in pledges. To make the report more clear, she will write a new version for the vestry to approve next month.

Ministry Updates

Outreach (Service).  No official report, since chair Jane Ramsey was not present.  Tina reported that she continues to attend Winter Nights meetings as they set the calendar for next year, and she is willing to continue for now. Walter will convene an Outreach meeting.

Worship and Liturgy  Sally reported that the plan is still to open full-bore on June 13. It will be all hands on deck, and we should all try to recruit help to make the services happen. Rev. Deb reminded the vestry that Grace will participate in the Diocese-wide live streamed Pentecost service at Grace Cathedral on May 23, and will NOT hold a service at Grace Church that day.  

Welcoming (Evangelism): Tina reported that the committee will meet this coming Monday. First order of business will be planning for the in-person services.

Education:   Amelia reported that Godly Play is going fine; Faithful Forums are going well, and Columba will offer a Faithful Forum this Sunday. The Book Group continues to have healthy attendance on Zoom. The group studying “How to be an antiracist” has concluded. Rev. Deb says they will begin again in September as a Sacred Ground circle. Sacred Ground is the anti racism curriculum of The Episcopal Church. The Wednesday[Bible study is finishing up its Easter study on Resurrection and will begin a new topic for the Season after Pentecost.

Parish Life:  The committee is planning a parish picnic for June 13, after the worship service. The vestry discussed the possibility of the county still being in the “orange” tier on June 13, which might preclude having much of a celebration besides the service itself. The rules may allow children to use the playground that day; probably there will not be shared food, it will be “bring your own picnic.”  

Pastoral Care:   Rev. Deb reported that some parishioner situations have improved or resolved, and some have not. Rev. Deb is able to do some pastoral visiting now.


Assessment appeal:  Grace pays a diocesan assessment, which is set based on the size of the congregation and the size of our budget. Churches in financial difficulty can ask for relief from this assessment, and the diocese has been especially open to requests for relief due to the pandemic. After discussion, the vestry voted (Reich/Eudy) to apply for assessment relief from the Diocese of California.

Buildings and Grounds 

Labyrinth:  Tina reported that the type of labyrinth that we have in mind ought to cost around $15,000-$20,000.  Costs include grading and drainage as well as materials.  This figure assumes that major work would be done by volunteers in the church. Lars Howlett was extremely helpful, and went beyond the call of duty to consult with us.  It may not be financially feasible to do this project. Also, it appears possible that there is a water problem, under the quad. After discussion the vestry voted (Eudy/Brooks) to table the project for now, with the stipulation that Tina will occasionally remind us to assess the possibility of revisiting it.

There are several dead trees on the property that may be a safety hazard.  We obtained two bids for removal of them, the lower of which is to remove eleven trees for $5000. We will keep the wood chips for weed-reduction use elsewhere on the property.  Voted (Eudy/Charlton) to spend $5000 to remove the trees. Former Junior Warden James Maniatis will be in charge of managing the tree removal. Sarah will make sure our parking lot tenants move their trucks away from the trees to avoid possible damage to them.

Upper Lot: Amy Eudy reported that the Upper Lot committee has met with several contractors and recently met for a second time with one of them. She believes they are poised to vote for working with this second contractor, after which they will bring their choice to the vestry for approval for hire. The group should take several months to complete a report. Following receipt of the report we will hold an all-parish meeting to reveal the results and the vestry will then vote on how to proceed.

Discovery Builders/Easement: Rev. Deb reported that Discovery Builders has requested the deposit money that we have been holding against damage to our property while they installed the water pipe for which we granted an easement. Rev. Deb told them that she will need to use some of that money to repave the portion of our parking lot that was damaged by the contractors who repeatedly drove their heavy equipment up and down our property during the work on their project. The issue is pending at this time. 

Rev. Deb’s MMR 

The vestry began the process of conducting Rev. Deb’s Mutual Ministry Review (MMR). An MMR is a conversation among the leaders of the church reflecting on the life of the congregation, reviewing our previous goals, considering the current and future direction of our ministry together, and determining whether Rev. Deb’s leadership is leading us toward fulfilling our goals and our vision for Grace. The Mutual Ministry Review was led by Senior Warden Christina Reich.  The vestry began by reviewing some of the criteria used by the search committee which called Rev. Deb. They then reviewed the parish’s mission and vision statements. Our mission statement was developed in 2017 by the vestry and describes who we are and what we do: “Grace Episcopal Church welcomes, supports, and serves all God’s people.” Our Vision Statement was developed by the vestry in 2018 and describes our hope for the impact of what we do: “Grace Episcopal Church will be a God-focused community that embraces all seekers into the ways of Jesus Christ, is present, caring, and compassionate to all we encounter, and has the ability to physically and spiritually minister to our fellow human beings.” The vestry then discussed how well they feel we are fulfilling them. They began conversation about the church’s priorities, where the parish is now, and where it is headed. 

The MMR will continue at the June vestry meeting.

DISMISSAL  Rev. Deb dismissed the meeting at 8:59 p.m. 

Respectfully submitted,

 Sarah Williams

Parish Administrator

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