Grace Vestry Meeting Minutes for June, 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, Connie Towey, Stephanie Zichichi

Guests:  The Rev. Walter Ramsey, Marj Leeds (Treasurer), Philip Brochard (Rector of All Souls Episcopal Church in Berkeley), Kirk Miller Parishioner at All Souls), Sarah Williams (Parish Administrator)

 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.  Poem by Alan Jones, from Race and Prayer. The group read and discussed the passage.

 GUEST PRESENTATION:  The Rev. Philip Brochard, Rector, All Souls Episcopal Church, Berkeley, and Kirk Miller, member of the All Souls’ Building Committee discussed their property development project and answered questions from Grace Vestry members.

All Souls has an old apartment building on land adjacent to the church. They are five years into the process of planning, designing and building a multi-use building on the site, and hope to be finished in another two years. Father Phil and Kirk outlined the process they followed to develop their project. They chose a local developer, Satellite Affordable Housing Associates, to be their development partner. They made this choice after consulting people at the Berkeley planning department and other “locals” to determine whom they might best collaborate with. They noted that funding for affordable housing is very complex, involving various funding streams and requirements, so it is important that the developer be experienced in this type of project. They simultaneously worked on various paths:  design, legal aspects, community relations, and financial. They reported that the initial costs paid by All Souls were $2000 for an appraisal of the property, and additional costs for landscape work that needed to be done.  There may be some more costs to All Souls before the project is complete.  It is roughly a $26 million project, so the projected $12,000 outlay is a very small percentage of that.

There are various vulnerable populations for which there are different funding sources, and All Souls chose elders. The building will have 34 studios for people over 62 years old, 12 of which will be set aside for people moving off the streets and for individuals with significant mental illness.  The county is providing both capital and operation funds for those 12 units and will also provide social workers to support those residents.

Their funding includes tax credits used by outside investors, grants, and long-term loans that are generally expected to be rolled over into new loans when they come due, but it is not known for sure. Kirk talked about there being six major elements to real estate development:  land (which we have), design, governmental approvals, funding, construction, leasing and management.

An early task for Grace will be to find out what is in the city’s master plan, learn what they want, find out about zoning, and so forth.  The next task will be to engage a consulting service without paying for it; this should be possible. The parish needs to reflect on what kind of project it wants.

The developer will hire an architect, but make sure that the church has an active hand in the selection.  (All Souls had to spend too much time and energy on having the architect re-design the project; the architect’s aesthetic did not match what the church wanted.)

Another helpful suggestion:  form task forces for various tasks, requiring only a limited time commitment; it will be easier for people to volunteer for a limited period than to join a committee that will carry the whole project through to the end. In addition to church members, we may find “Grace-adjacent” people who are interested in helping with the project.

The All Souls’ guests are happy to answer more questions in the future.


Regathering Committee Report – Marj Leeds

The Regathering Committee is Rev. Deb, Marj Leeds, Jennifer Sabroe, Arthur Omura, and Gary Spenik. The committee has been meeting weekly.

We are subject to the rules of the state, the county, the city, and the diocese. As the rules stand in early June, these are some of the requirements for in-person services:

  • Outside, because the county limits indoor gatherings to 12 people
  • Everyone will wear masks
  • No singing
  • No communion
  • No one over 65 years old or otherwise in a vulnerable population will attend.

We will continue to simulcast services.

The diocese’s plan is to coordinate by deanery; no church in any deanery will begin services until all the churches in that deanery that want to have services have had their regathering plans approved.  Churches are not required to have in-person services, but those that do will all begin on the same Sunday as the other churches in the deanery.

Rev. Deb acknowledges that the prohibition on people over 65 is hard for some.  Bishop Marc feels a Biblical imperative to protect the most vulnerable among us.

The requirements from all the various authorities (state, county, city, and diocese) are changing frequently, as things change with the pandemic.  Grace’s plan for regathering will be published and available.  Grace Notes and other emails are our main method for communicating with the congregation about this topic.

Upper Lot Discernment Next Steps

Now that our six-month feedback process is done, what should come next?

We need an all-parish meeting at which various possibilities are presented, possibly the top three from the feedback we received. It would be good to have some rough sketches, and possibly show the pictures from Trinity Center Walnut Creek and the All Souls’ building, to give people a visual sense of what is possible while ensuring that they do not think we have settled on a plan already.

Rev. Deb explained how the national trends in church attendance make it extremely unlikely that Grace will need extra parking on a regular basis in the future.

We will schedule the parish meeting for the fall, at the earliest. It is very important to make it possible for everyone to participate, so if it has to be an on-line meeting then extra efforts will be required to help people to join.

In addition, vestry members will think about who should be asked to get involved in the project.


Ministry Updates

Connected Congregation phone tree is going well.

Rev. Deb wants to move more church activities on line, as the quarantine is lasting so long.  We are doing a great deal of liturgy on line, but it is time to start the Faithful Forums again, possibly more committee meetings, other study groups, social things.

The food pantry is doing fine, with donations coming in and food being given out.

Buildings and Grounds

Current project statuses are as follows:

  • Shed repair – complete
  • Roof tile repair – complete
  • Back steps – likely to be finished before the next vestry meeting
  • Sprinkler system – to be installed on Saturday
  • Gutters – in process; Dick Evans is working on a drainage plan
  • Back slope rental (for grape growing) – Stephanie reported that Viano Vineyards is not interested
  • Sound system – bids are being collected
  • Discovery project- Rev. Deb is keeping tabs

Dismissal.  Rev. Walter led the dismissal and the meeting adjourned at 8:05 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Sarah Williams

Parish Administrator

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