Grace Episcopal Church June 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 

Absent: Stephanie Zichichi 

 Guests:  The Rev. Walter Ramsey; Columba Salamony (Seminarian), Marj Leeds (Treasurer) 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 6:30 p.m. and led in prayer by Rev. Deb.

Bible Study. Acts 2:42-47.  The group read and discussed the passage.

Consent Agenda. It was M/S/C (Eudy/Hanson) to approve the consent agenda items: Agenda, Minutes of the May 12, 2021 meeting, Rector’s report, Senior Warden’s Report.

OLD BUSINESS

Treasurer’s Report: Last month the Vestry had difficulty understanding the Treasurer’s report, so this month Marj Leeds presented both a reconfigured May report and a June report. She mentioned that she did not show the Lynch bequest as regular income, as it is not part of regular pledges. The $5000 of tree work is also not reflected as a routine expense, as it was funded by dedicated donations. We expect a deficit of roughly $25,000 this year. If we are approved for relief of our diocesan assessment, that will help. Organizations that rent our building are beginning to come back, which will also help. Everyone expressed gratitude for her willingness to reformat the May report and indicated they understood both reports. Marj reiterated that she is always willing to talk to anyone who has questions about Grace finances.

Ministry Updates

Outreach (Service).  Rev. Walter reported that the backpack ministry has ended.  It has been decided that it is no longer needed.  There is an outreach meeting planned for next week. 

Worship and Liturgy, Welcoming, Parish Life:  These topics were combined in the meeting because the return to in-person worship on June 13 is the main subject for all three.  We may be able to return to in-person coffee hour with limited restrictions. Tina will host the first one, and she has had offers from others to host as well.  We will have the Zoom coffee hour up on a screen in the parish hall.  We will have name tags.  In the Facebook livestream, you can “pin” a message in the comments.  We will pin a comment asking newcomers to send us a message with their contact information. We are planning a bring-your-own-lunch picnic after the service June 13.

Education:  Amelia reported that all is continuing. Bible study is going strong, about to start on Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s book Love is the Way. Godly Play is switching to all live, no pre-recording.  Book club continues; the Book Group that discussed antiracism is taking the summer off.  Faithful Forum is (as of now) taking June off, and for July we will approach Noralea for a session on Camp Hope. Amelia may organize a Faithful Forum for Pride Month in June.  Amy asked if the Faithful Forum time slot can be used some time in the future for discussion of the Upper Lot.  

Pastoral Care:   Rev. Deb is visiting and meeting with parishioners face to face.  She commented on the pastoral aspects of the return to in-person services. Jane will talk to Jo-Ann Lee about possibly activating the card ministry.

Stewardship

Assessment appeal: Application accepted; waiting for response..

Buildings and Grounds 

Liz reported that David’s brother-in-law replaced windows in the education building.  She is looking for a carpenter to work on the back steps from the parish hall.

Upper Lot: Amy Eudy reported that the Upper Lot committee has chosen DCG as a consultant to do a best-use survey of the property. They are requesting that the Vestry hire DCG. DCG’s report will tell us whether we can develop the property at all and, if so, what type of project would be feasible.  The diocese will pay half the cost of the consultation and Grace will pay the other half.  The consultation should take around 90 days.  They know we are interested in having an income stream, and that we may want to include clergy housing as part of a project. The vestry discussed the ways that developing the Upper Lot can further the church’s mission. It was M/S/C (Reich/Hanson) to hire DCG and to pay up to $5000 toward the consultation.

Use of property reminders:  Rev. Deb reminds us that there is now a burglar alarm.  Volunteers may not be able to drop in as they are accustomed to doing.  She reminds us that Dru Grissom is in charge of the relationships and paperwork for nonprofit organizations that rent our space, and also that Rev. Deb herself, as rector, makes decisions regarding the use of the property to make sure that its use is in line with our mission.  (Example:  Martinez police used space at Grace for de-escalation training.)  Renters at Grace must be nonprofit organizations, so as not to jeopardize our own nonprofit status.  This means that parishioners can no longer hold private family parties in the parish hall.  A way around this is to make the party a church event, with the whole parish invited.  The church may still require that the party host have liability insurance for the event, to protect us if a party attendee sues the church.

Rev. Deb’s MMR 

The Vestry finished the Mutual Ministry Review (MMR) that was begun in June.  We reviewed what was discussed in June, including the goals that the parish had when Rev. Deb was called to become rector, such as increasing lay leadership, increasing the size of the church, and adjusting the management style of the church to be appropriate to the size of the church. A vestry discernment process in 2019 concluded that those goals were met, and set new goals that looked outward:  more outreach to the community, and expanding the staff. At that time the vestry also discussed expanding the education building but decided to table that conversation due to lack of funding.  Lastly, they decided to pursue development of the Upper Lot.

Tonight’s discussion centered on where the church is currently. The pandemic has changed things a great deal.  Social justice and racial reconciliation have become inescapably key issues.  The church is shrinking, and it is not clear how many will come back after the pandemic is over.  

Questions to discuss now:

  1. Should Grace continue to pursue the goals chosen in 2019, or do they need to be changed?
  2. Is Rev. Deb the appropriate leader to take Grace forward to pursue the goals?

Opinions expressed:  the goals are still good, there was no interest in revisiting those.  Yes, Rev. Deb is the best fit for this particular church.  She has built connections with the Martinez community outside Grace. Question:  does Martinez need Grace?  Yes.  We are a communal group that reaches out.  Our outreach would leave a gap if it didn’t exist, including because of the material help we give through various programs — Deacon’s Pantry, Camp Hope, CORE, other social services that we either organize or support. The church is also valuable for its worship, preaching, parish community. 

Work to do, inside the church and outside.  Does the church want to grow and welcome new people?  Parishes always think they want to grow, but doing so requires accepting the new people as part of the group.  Different Vestry members had different experiences as new members, some felt welcomed more than others did.  Best ways to welcome new members were discussed. Rev. Deb mentioned that The Episcopal Church now likes to talk about “invitation,” as well as “welcoming.”

Conclusion:  the 2019 goals are still valid, and the vestry wants Rev. Deb to be the person leading us forward.

NEW BUSINESS

The Vestry will plan to meet face-to-face four times per year, and have the rest of the monthly meetings online.

DISMISSAL  Rev. Walter dismissed the meeting at 8:40 p.m. 

Respectfully submitted,

Sarah Williams

Parish Administrator

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