Grace Episcopal Church Vestry Minutes, May 13, 2020

Present: The Reverend Dr. Deborah White (Rector), Christina Reich (Sr. Warden), Josh Senn (Jr. Warden), Amelia Brooks, Betty Case, Sally Hanson, David Kennedy, Jane Ramsey, Stephanie Zichichi
Absent: Connie Towey
Guests: The Rev. Walter Ramsey, Marj Leeds (Treasurer), Jennifer Sabroe, Donna Colombo (founder of Trinity Center Walnut Creek), Leslie Gleason (Executive Director of Trinity Center Walnut Creek), 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 6:05 p.m. and led in prayer by Rev. Deb.

Bible Study. Exodus 16:2-15: God provides food in the wilderness. The group read and discussed the passage.

Consent Agenda. It was M/S/C (Case/Reich) to approve the consent agenda items: Agenda, Minutes of April 1, 2020, regular Vestry meeting and April 8, 2020, special Vestry meeting; Rector’s Report; Senior Warden’s Report; Junior Warden’s Report; Treasurer’s Report.

NEW BUSINESS: Presentation regarding Trinity Center and St. Paul’s Commons, projects of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek

Donna Colombo (founder) and Leslie Gleason (Executive Director) of Trinity Center Walnut Creek, appeared at the vestry’s invitation to describe the process St. Paul’s church went through to develop a mixed-use facility on the church’s property in downtown Walnut Creek.

They have a community center, a 44-unit apartment building for low-income residents, including some units set aside for people formerly homeless.

After having a feasibility study done, the church chose a nonprofit developer to build the project, and a real estate management company manages it. The church leases the land to the developer and retains ownership of the property. Some of the funding is from state tax credits, and the City of Walnut Creek contributed some of the money. The church did not put money in, except for some legal fees, and does not receive funds from the project. They do save money on maintenance of their property.

The church began work on the project in 2013, and it is now finished and the apartments are almost all occupied. Early work included multiple “town hall” meetings for the church members to decide what to do, and a church committee was formed to steer the project. The relationship with the City of Walnut Creek was key to the project’s success.

The meeting rooms are used for church activities as well as for community services. Everyone is pleased with the beautiful look of the place, and it is gratifying to offer shelter and other practical help to vulnerable members of the community.


Ministry Updates

Outreach Committee did not meet in April. The church is involved in various outreach efforts. Every week’s Grace Notes contains updated information about how to give help to others and how to find help if needed. Many of the organizations that Grace usually supports with volunteer work and donations are finding a way to keep operating during this time.

Worship Committee will meet next week. During this time, Grace is offering five worship services every week, which is more than ever before: Sunday Holy Eucharist (live-streamed), Tuesday and Thursday evening Compline with Rev. Walter, Wednesday Morning Prayer and Bible Study, Friday Morning Prayer (weekday services held via Zoom conference). Additionally, we offer Godly Play every week, with an art project, and this Saturday will be a family service at noon.

The Sunday morning services have had a core group of around 50 households who watch during the service, while it is live-streamed, and then many more who watch the archived video afterward. All the Sunday services have had at least 250 “views,” which potentially represents more than 250 people as a household might have more than one viewer. People across the country and overseas have tuned in, and some have made donations.

Rev. Deb urged everyone to invite friends to participate in our worship activities.

Welcoming Committee plans to meet next week.

Education: Family service beginning this Saturday. Godly Play/art project videos done by Marj Leeds and the White-Spenik family have garnered around 50 views each time.

Pastoral Care The phone tree is working; many people appreciate the calls very much. Rev. Deb is glad to hear when someone needs a call from her.

Parish Life is on hold for now, but if this goes on much longer we may try an on-line book club or other social events.
The planning for the 150th celebration continues. There will be an update in tomorrow’s Grace Notes. Bishop Marc would not have been able to attend in July, but the pandemic has caused his schedule to change so that now he plans to join us for the celebration, whether virtually or in person.
There’s a new logo for the 150th celebration, which will be shown in tomorrow’s Grace Notes.
There is now a fund, to which people can contribute if they like.


Buildings and Grounds

  1. The shed is being repaired, replacing the board with proper paneling.
  2. The roof tiles at the back of the Parish Hall, over the kitchen, have been repaired.
  3. Dick Evans produced a design for the back steps, and it has been submitted to the city for approval.
  4. A new drip system has been installed in the area under the Sunday School windows. Refinements are still being made.
  5. We have an estimate for the installation of rain gutters, but first we need to settle on a plan for the drainage from them, and find out what the drainage will cost, before installing the gutters.
  6. We have no new information on the possible lease of the back slope to a vineyard for grape growing.
  7. The Las Trampas regional center is leasing space in the upper lot for parking. The presence of their vehicles seems to keep people away, as there is less trash in the lot than there used to be.
  8. Discovery Builders have begun construction again on the home construction above our upper lot after a hiatus due to the pandemic. They have not yet asked for permission to come onto church property, but at some point they will need to do this. They are required to give us ten days’ advance notice. We are holding a deposit from them in case of damage.
  9. Sound system – For various reasons, we need improvements to the sound system.
    a. At the moment we have one working microphone, and will need more than that when we start in-person worship services again.
    b. The sound system in the Parish Hall does not match the one in the sanctuary; we want a more unified system, so that broadcasting worship services into the Parish Hall can be more successful. It would also be good to be able to broadcast in the courtyard and the atrium. When we come back to worshiping together in person, we may use all these spaces in order to keep a safe distance between worshipers.
    c. We plan to continue simulcasting our services after in-person worship begins again. (Now that we have done the work to set it up, there is no reason not to continue to share the message with the wider world.) Unfortunately, right now we set the equipment up on a table in the middle aisle; it would be in the way during a regular service. We need to create a sound booth.
    d. Sound system improvements will not be funded from the regular budget. Some earmarked donations have been offered by church members. Additionally, the Rotary Club paid for the system that we have now in the Parish Hall, and they are considering whether to contribute to our new system.

Upper lot discernment – we have received comments and ideas from some church members, but not a large enough percentage. We need to encourage the rest of the membership to send comments, and we need a deadline. We will ask for everyone to comment by June 15, using the email address.
Re-gathering (return to in-person worship services): We are waiting for further guidance from the diocese. We know that this will be a complex undertaking. Some specific concerns were covered in the Buildings and Grounds discussion.

Dismissal. Rev. Walter led the dismissal and the meeting adjourned at 8:04 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Sarah Williams
Parish Administrator

Leave a Reply