Present: The Reverend Dr. Deborah White (Rector), Christina Reich, (Sr. Warden), Joshua Senn (Jr. Warden), Amelia Brooks, Chandra Damele, Sally Hanson, David Kennedy, Connie Towey, 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 6:03 p.m. and led in prayer by Rev. Deb.
Bible Study. “Building Hope” Hebrews 6:10-11. The group read and discussed the passage, distinguishing between hope and wishing, and talked about how to create hope in difficult times.
Consent Agenda. It was M/S/C (Reich/Towey) to approve the consent agenda items: Minutes of November 11, 2020; Rector’s Report; Treasurer’s Report; Senior Warden Report
2021 Budget Preview: Treasurer Marj Leeds presented a budget proposal for the coming year.
Marj presented a skeleton version of a 2021 budget. The current draft was written with the assumption that in-person activities will resume around May 1, including both worship services and use of the building by outside groups.
Income: Pledges are still coming in, so that is unknown. Fees from outside groups will resume once groups can come back. Las Trampas Regional Center’s use of the parking lot is ongoing, so that brings in fees even now.
Expenses: Salaries, insurance, and diocesan assessment are the major expenses. We are cutting expenses where it is possible.
Winter Nights: Winter Nights is a collaborative program among local churches to house families without housing during the Winter months. Tina attended a “Winter Nights summit,” a meeting of representatives from the various parishes that participate. She reports that, since only people who test negative for coronavirus use the shelter (while those being tested and those who test positive are given hotel rooms), the shelter is housing fewer people than usual. Participating parishes can only provide purchased meals, rather than cooking it themselves, and we cannot visit the shelter to eat with the residents the way we usually would.
The Spirit of Giving (holiday gift project of the nonprofit Hope Solutions): Jennifer Sabroe reported that Grace raised funds to provide gift cards for twenty people. We look forward to next year, when we can enjoy choosing gifts for recipients and wrapping them, but it is good to have participated.
Worship and Liturgy
Live Streamed services continue. Rev. Deb pointed out that Grace is conducting more worship services than most parishes, and we may be the only parish doing live streams rather than pre-recorded videos during the most recent shut-down. (This is made possible by the White-Spenik family’s willingness to be the worship team and tech crew.) She also reports that, due to the new stay-at-home order, Bishop Marc strongly urges all the parishes to stop outdoor worship services, despite the fact that they are legally allowed right now.
For Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we will have three pre-recorded services that will be put out on Facebook at their designated times: an early-evening family service with pageant and a brand-new Holy Eucharist liturgy written by Rev. Deb, a late-evening Holy Eucharist service with music, and Morning Prayer on Christmas Day at 10:00 am. The Sunday after Christmas will be a Lessons and Carols service.
Christina has scheduled a committee meeting for January. Among other things, they will address the question of how to engage the new participants who are attending Grace worship online.
Coffee hour attendance has gotten quite small.
Amelia reported that Marvelous Marj is still doing Godly Play, and the book group is going strong. The Faithful Forum featuring Columba Salamony will be Dec. 20.
Rev. Deb indicated that there are now COVID cases in other parishes in the Diocese; in that sense, it is getting closer to Grace. She has spent a lot of time on pastoral care lately, and the prayer list is getting longer. Rector’s Discretionary Fund was able to donate to several nonprofit organizations. Deacon’s Pantry needs restocking. The freezer is full.
We are not allowed to have outdoor get-togethers like the ones we had before, due to the latest stay-at-home order.
Stephanie is thinking about how to connect people. Men’s Breakfast group and St. Christopher’s Guild declined to meet by videoconference early in the pandemic, but perhaps it is worth approaching them again about it since this has lasted so long.
Many households that usually pledge have not gotten pledges in yet. Marj has asked to have first pass at speaking to folks. If there are remaining parishioners that need a phone call the vestry will be informed.
Buildings and Grounds
Back stairs off the kitchen: Jim Maniatis is working on them. The railing has still not been completed.
Video and Sound System/Audiovisual Booth: The theft of our new sound equipment in the robbery led to the audio problems that we had in recent weeks. The lavalier microphones that were stolen were not initially replaced, but after much work on Gary’s part, much creativity and jury-rigging, and the arrival of the replacement equipment, we hope that the system will work as intended beginning this Sunday.
Water bill: It might be good if some of the lawn is replaced by the labyrinth, in order to save on watering. Josh would love to get rid of the lawn entirely, due to the water use.
Garden: Josh offered to head up the work of removing the roses, but Rev. Deb cautioned him to talk to Marj before proceeding as she has already developed some plans.
2021 Salaries Marj reported that Rev. Deb, Sarah, and Arthur will all get raises this year. Sarah and Arthur will get Cost of Living (COLA) boosts as recommended by the diocese and Rev. Deb will get a longevity raise because she has moved into a new experience category on the diocesan payment minimums.
Rector’s Housing Resolution It was M/S/C (Reich/Towey) to designate $50,160 of Rev. Deb’s pay as a housing allowance. This is a routine action that does not affect the church budget but brings a tax advantage to the clergy.
2021 Annual Meeting/Nominees for offices At the annual meeting on January 24, the congregation needs to elect three vestry members. The “middle” class of the vestry serves as the nominating committee, which this year is Tina, Stephanie, and David. We also need to elect deanery representatives and diocesan convention delegates. There was some initial conversation about folks who have offered to run for various offices and Rev. Deb shared several names that have been submitted to her.
Upper Lot Rev. Deb quoted the Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry as saying that if The Episcopal Church does not change, then it will cease to exist by the year 2050. People need God more than ever, but most young people are not being raised to attend church. Focusing on the things that we are accustomed to focusing on in order to bring people in are not bringing people in. People like to get involved in an organization that allows them to help the community. This gives people the opportunity to get to know church members and it might bring them to the congregation. The upper lot project could be this thing, for Grace. We still need someone who can take charge of this project. We have not wanted to spend money for it, but if we choose to, we could use the benefit offered by the Episcopal Impact Fund, where they pay half the cost of a consultant to advise us on what we can reasonably do with the property. There is some urgency, because once the development above us is finished and has residents living there, it will be harder to get permission to do what we want to do with the land. Rev. Deb asked Vestry members to pray and consider this issue for discussion in January.
Phone tree: Activating the phone tree again. Remind people to get their pledges in, let them know we have a deficit still in the pledge drive.
DISMISSAL Rev. Walter led the dismissal and the meeting adjourned at 7:52 p.m.