The Church is the People
"Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord.."  Haggai 1:8

Dear Faithful supporters of Grace,

Grace Episcopal Church Martinez has a long history of do-it-yourself campus care. I always speak with pride about how our buildings and grounds are maintained (and were built) by our own parishioners. I am most grateful for the generous donations of time and talent that so many of our parishioners contribute regularly so that we can maintain our campus. Thank you for your many years of service.

Recently, some vestry members and I have received calls and/or emails expressing concern about the care of the church buildings during the coronavirus shut-down, so I thought I would provide an update on our current non-virtual worship and fellowship spaces.

First, please be assured that there are people at the church several days per week and that each of us walks the campus at least once while we are there to check for abnormalities. The Martinez police officers who frequent our lot are also still doing so and check in with me if they have concerns.

The cars, vans, and trucks parked in our upper lot belong to the Las Trampas Regional School. They pay a monthly fee to the church to park there at their own risk.

The sanctuary doors are unlocked on Sunday mornings from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. for prayer and to drop off or pick up items for CORE, the Deacon's Pantry, and the Martinez Homelessness Initiative. The Sanctuary is then cleaned and sanitized prior to being locked again.

Our cleaning crew comes every other week and uses appropriate safety equipment when cleaning our various buildings.

We have been asked by the bishop to comply with the most stringent of the shelter-in-place regulations. This includes the following criterion from the March 31 Contra Costa Health Services order, "Landscapers and similar service professionals may only provide services necessary to maintain the sanitation, habitability, or operation of residences or businesses, or for safety reasons. They may not provide services that are cosmetic or for general upkeep." This means we no longer have professional grounds services. We have had several concerned parishioners offer to assist with buildings and ground upkeep during this time. Junior Warden Josh Senn has been completing urgent repairs and basic maintenance during this time frame. Now that we know that the social isolation restrictions will continue for longer than we initially expected, he has begun mowing the grass and is setting up a rotation of individuals to assist him with weeding and other necessary fire-prevention landscaping. When planning church maintenance, I have asked him to follow these stringent guidelines and protocols:

1) No one who is in a high-risk category for developing COVID 19 (i.e., - over the age of 65 or immunocompromised) may participate in "in-person" church worship services. This is per order of the bishop.
2) No one in a high-risk category may provide heavy labor (including lawn mowing, carpentry, replacing lights etc.) at the church. Individuals who would like to assist Josh in his work and are not in a high risk category can volunteer by emailing Josh . NO ONE may work on campus without others knowing they are there. This is so we can be assured people have support in case of emergency.
3) In order to make sure that proper distancing and safety protocols are being used, I am asking you to contact me directly if you plan to be on campus outside of the hours and conditions identified above. I will do whatever I can to make sure your needs are met.

I know that this requires considerable adjustment for many of us, but I have, in conjunction with advice from our diocese, insurance company, and local government, put these measures into place in order to care for the most vulnerable among us. As I recently said to one very determined and faithful parishioner, "You may not worry about you, but I do." I take my responsibilities as your priest AND as the primary steward of Grace's property both very seriously, which is why I have set these protocols in place. Please know that I do this with love and

With faith,
Rev. Deb