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.


 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.


 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

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