Grace Episcopal Church

Serving the community of Martinez
and Contra Costa County since 1868

Second Discernment Gathering
Community Comments


We had a meaningful second gathering on May 1. The questions for this session were designed to help us to delve deeper into the concerns that our members may be carrying into the future life of Grace Church.  The  group reponded thoughtfully and honestly; and what was shared reflected both the personal and corporate concerns and hopes of the group.

              . . .  notations in (brackets) are added for clarity . . .

What is guilt calling us to do?
  • Feeling bad/guilty about changing roles in ministry (when there already is a shortage of volunteers)
  • Resentment (that church responsibilities inhibit personal growth/change)
  • (Shortage of volunteers leads to feelings of being) stuck, trapped, (causing) drop-out
  • (sadness that) roles (are) fixed
  • (Experiences of) former pain (in church life causing current behaviors in) staying away from (active) ministry
  • (Frustrations of having) ideas without (a structure to) support (or implement them)
  • (A comment that there is such a thing as healthy guilt which) could be a positive (experience)
  • (A comment that someone felt guilty for) not speaking up more (about the things that concern them)
  • (A general comment that non-reflection on our feelings of guilt) causes us to be stuck in unhealthy (patterns)
  • (Unhealthy comparison with) other "packed" churches
  • (Anxiety that) we are responsible for the future of the church (and, particularly, our congregation)
What is fear calling us to do?
  • (Experience anxiety about letting go of current role/s in ministry as there is) no one to take up the reins (in our place)
  • (Discomfort in the knowledge that welcoming in) new people will mean doing things in new ways
  • (Creating hesitation to get involved for fear of becoming) trapped (in ministry/roles)
  • (Apprehension that a) new model for ministry (means discovering) a different balance
  • (Worry about) how (to move forward safely)
  • (Stopped) asking for help (after) being turned down in the past
  • (Distrust in) different perspectives (especially as we are) getting older
  • (Distress about the emotional cost of) change
  • (Anguish about the future) - will I be fed?
  • (Question what kind of) Diocesan support (can we honestly expect)
  • (Misgivings about) our role as a church in Martinez, Contra Costa County, and with other Episcopal churches
  • (Qualms about how) new clergy seem to produce congregational crisis and (disenfranchisement or) disconnect (often with members leaving)
  • (Concerns that we have become) too comfortable (which might inhibit our ability to move towards the future)
  • (Doubts that the calling) process (is capable of producing a clergy/congregation) commitment into a life-time relationship
  • (Concerns that the entire Episcopal) Church is dwindling
  • (Concerns that we might be operating in a mode of) desperation
  • (Concerns that as the church changes we might not as readily identify our) Christian (faith)
What is love calling us to do?
  • To open up . . . (to God and others, so that we will) not be ruled by guilt or fear
  • Relax, slow down, be patient, and listen . . . breathe
  • (Engage in active listening by) giving our attention and presence (to one another, and really) "seeing them"
  • Serve one another and the community more deeply (particularly by) listening and connecting (with our) membership
  • See God in each other (and seek to) understand who they are in God's eyes
  • Letting go of fear (in order to embrace) hope (and new) opportunities
  • Make time for people (versus stuff)
  • Grow (by inviting those on the edges into an expanding) middle
  • Enjoy the "passing of the peace"

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The whole parish (including our youth) are encouraged to participate as we reflect on where we are as a congregation and where God might be calling us to go into the future. 

There will be one more Discernment Gathering to take place on the following Sunday mornings at 9:00am:   May 22

While not mandatory, participation in these conversations will inform the work of our Search Committee; scheduled to be appointed at our June 8 Vestry meeting. 

Thank you for your continued prayers and support of the leadership and ministries of Grace Church.
Saint Christoper's Luau - Saturday, May 14

Come and share Aloha with this fun dinner and music event hosted by Saint Christopher's Guild. There will be hula dancers and authentic Hawaiian songs.  This fundraiser begins at 5:30 p.m. (social hour), with 6:30 p.m. (dinner). Tickets $25 (with children 12 and under $10; and under 5, free).
Come Celebrate Pentecost - Sunday, May 15

Wear red clothing items to church for our 8am and 10am worship services this coming Sunday; and stay for the family picnic and bocce ball tournament at Rodgers-Smith Park, Pleasant Hill from 12noon to 4pm.  BBQ'd main items are provided, and you are invited to bring a side-dish to share. 
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