The Bell Tower News

Newsletter of Grace Episcopal Church 

 Martinez, California

   November 2015

Grace Episcopal Church | gracechurchmtz.org
In this Issue
Upcoming Events

Quick Links
Chili Cook-off - November 21
Christmas Luncheon - December 1
Italian Pasta Dinner - December 12
Winter Concert - December 13 
(Diablo Regional Concert Band)

Use this link to view a listing of events. 

Worship Schedule
SUNDAYS 8:00 and 10:00 a.m.
Holy Eucharist Rite II
10:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist Rite II
THANKSGIVING DAY, Nov. 26, 10:00 a.m.
Holy Eucharist Rite II
A Prayer for Our Parish
Almighty and everliving God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth, hear our prayers for this parish family. Strengthen the faithful, arouse the careless, and restore the penitent. Grant us all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be of one heart and mind within your holy Church; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
from The Book of Common Prayer
FromIntRectorFrom the Interim Rector
The Rev. Jeffrey L. Frost
Dear Parish Family:
Very soon we will enter the season of Advent. As the days grow shorter, and the weather cooler, I invite you to slow down and contemplate your faith from a perspective of light and darkness.
In Darkness, to begin with a noticing of the literal increase of minutes in the time between sunset and sunrise; as well as continuing with what it may mean for you to wait with anticipation. Pausing to recollect and consider anew your journey of spirit and body, from before Christ became flesh and dwelt among us, and within you; until today.
And in Light, seeking that space inside and around you where your heart is strangely warmed by the fire of the Holy Spirit; knowing that a new light has come, and continues to come into the world. While we will celebrate that new light and new life in our worship for Christmas, this is not merely a once a year event. It is intended to be a lived experience each day - as the sun rises, the Son also rises and greets us each morning after the little darkness of sleep. Each day we are invited to receive anew the gift of God in the incarnation of Jesus the Christ, Emmanuel, God with us.
How will you move and be moved into a place waiting this Advent?
What would be "good news" coming into our world, and particularly for you, that can clarify your anticipation?
In our worship services, we will use the liturgy of the church to shape our shared journey in Advent.
We will shift to Eucharist Prayer B in the Book of Common Prayer - which offers a more contemplative form for Holy Communion. We will also replace the Gloria with the Kyrie (Lord, have mercy) and begin a new Church year of lectionary readings focused around the Gospel of Luke.
On the fourth Sunday in Advent, December 20, at 10:00am we will have a combined worship service of Advent Lessons and Carols - followed by a reception and greening of the church.
I welcome you, therefore, into the season of Advent - with confidence that the true Light has come into the world and continues to be present with us always.
Fr. Jeff
SrWardenRptSenior Warden's Report
Hello Fellow Parishioners,
Hope you're enjoying the fall weather and the rainfall we've had so far. There's change in the weather and change here at Grace Church. As you've probably already noticed, (especially if you attended one of the Town Hall Meetings on November 8) our interim priest, Jeffrey Frost, has hit the ground running and is working hard to put us back on course to be a great little parish again. Between visiting parishioners who are recovering from surgery and/or medical issues or visiting those individuals we haven't seen in a while, Rev. Jeff is also working to put together a strong financial team to bring our church into compliance with Diocesan standards. The annual stewardship letter was mailed out earlier this month and we hope that you will be generous by increasing your pledge and returning your pledge card by November 22. Or, if you've never pledged before, please do so, if you can.
The Vestry and I are excited about the changes to be implemented and are very hopeful for the successful future of Grace Church and want all of you to continue to be a part of it. We will, of course, keep you posted on any and all changes and milestones we reach. Thank you for your support!
Don't forget to mark your calendars for the Chili Cook-off on November 21 - social hour is at 5:30 p.m. and dinner is at 6:30. We will provide all of the sides for the chili, plus beverages will be provided for a nominal charge. Dust off those cookbooks, find your crockpot and start cooking!  Prizes will be awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners.
Looking forward to working with all of you as we journey forward to a better future.
Susan E. Bremmer
Senior Warden
Junior Warden's Report
Every so often a little miracle crops up to bring smiles to our faces.  This time it was the refurbishment of the lattice work over the atrium. As work progressed it was clear that the funds were about half of what was needed.  This was announced during Sunday services and by the end of coffee hour the congregation had donated the rest!  No doubt once people had seen the sample of dry rot in a beam, the need
was clear.
The play structure is being refinished to protect the wood. Soon the children will be able to stand in the crow's nest and scan for whales and pirates.
On the Hospitality front : several ladies (the Happy Hemmers) met in the parish hall a few times for old-fashioned sewing bees. The result is that we now have cloth napkins for all three major dinners and for St. Christopher's Guild's annual December luncheon. If you see an occasional paper napkin, don't fret. We're just using up odds and ends.
Pat Corr
TownHallMtgRptNovember Town Hall Meetings Notes
On Sunday, November 8, following the 8:00 am and 10:00 am services, Town Hall meetings held in the sanctuary to hear about our new Interim Rector and what we can anticipate in the months ahead. The following is a summary of that presentation:
Question: What will Fr. Jeff's role be as our Interim Rector?
As our Rector, he will be provide leadership for the parish, plan and conduct worship services, have administrative oversight of the congregation, and provide pastoral care for members of the church and community.
As our Interim, he will lead the parish in a process of discernment and planning in preparation for our next clergy call.
Question: What are his terms of service to the parish?
He will be working for the parish on a three-quarter time basis. This means he will be working three days per week, plus Sunday; with one Sunday off per month (where there will be a Supply Clergy). He will be on the church campus on Wednesdays for office hours, in addition to leading the 10:00 am service followed by our lectionary Bible Study. His other two workdays per week may vary depending on the needs of the parish, but will usually be Tuesday and Friday.
Question: What are the finances regarding this relationship?
In exchange for working three-quarter time, the parish is paying full medical benefits for Fr. Jeff and his family. Due to the financial status of the parish we can only afford to pay half of the standard clergy compensation at this time. This has been arranged with the approval of Bishop Marc.
Question: Since this is not full time, what can we anticipate for pastoral care?
Fr. Jeff will be on-call for all pastoral emergencies. You can reach him via email at revjeff@gracechurchmtz.org or cell phone (530) 945-2899. We will also be working on training lay pastoral support for the parish.
You can anticipate regular clergy care of the parish, including home and hospital visits; and newcomer support, to be done along with the laity.
He will also provide for the liturgical care of the parish through weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc.
There will be a particular focus in outreach to lapsed members of the congregation.
In general, if you know of someone who could use a pastoral visit please let him know.
Question: What is the current financial status of the parish?
We are projecting a deficit for 2015 of $14,000, which would have been $24,000 if not for a generous one-time donation to the parish.
A strong stewardship response is need for 2016, and beyond, in order to be able to return to funding a full-time clergy position.
Question: What will likely be our Search Process for calling a new clergy?
While plans have yet to be confirmed with the Vestry, you can anticipate in the next six months that we will work to stabilize the finances of the parish and begin a congregational process of exploration and discernment. Following that we will establish a Search Committee to create a parish profile and clergy job description that matches the resources and needs of the parish. In the final phase we will complete the search process and prepare to welcome our new clergy relationship. We anticipate the whole journey to take about 18 months.


Susan Bremmer, Sr.Warden
Jennifer Sabroe, Clerk
Barbara Brooks

Pat Corr, Jr. Warden
Dave Eary
Jeremy Lowe

John Heyse, Treasurer
Marj Leeds
Les Marks

With Gratitude ...
At our recent Town Hall Meeting a request was made for funding donations to purchase a new computer and software for the office. Through your generosity we are now able to purchase the items we need to have a working office at the church! A big THANK YOU to our donors!
Stewardship Ingathering - November 22
Recently, you should have received a mailing which included a stewardship letter and a pledge card for you to complete and return to the church. While you are welcome to return your pledge in the enclosed self-addressed envelope, we encourage everyone to consider bringing them to church on Sunday, November 22; where we will have our stewardship ingathering as part of our worship services. In addition to the ingathering, it is also Christ the King Sunday, and we will have the baptism of Isla Mae Hodgson at 10:00am. We have much to be thankful for. Come join us for this day of celebration and gratitude.
Annual Parish Meeting - January 24, 2016
Our Annual Meeting will be held on Sunday, January 24, 2016, following a combined service at 10:00 (no 8:00 service that morning).  Please mark your calendars and plan to attend this important meeting of our church family. Some of the topics on the agenda will be the election of new vestry members, adoption of the 2016 budget, and  a status report on the permanent rector search.
WorshipScheduleWorship Schedule


8:00 and 10:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist Rite II

10:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist Rite II
Nov. 26, 10:00 a.m., Holy Eucharist Rite II
Nov. 29, 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. - First Sunday in Advent
Dec. 6, 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. - Second Sunday in Advent
Dec. 13, 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. - Third Sunday in Advent
Dec. 20, 10:00 a.m. - Advent Lessons and Carols (no 8 am service)
Dec. 24, 5:00 p.m. - Christmas Pageant and Children's Mass
Dec. 24, 10:00 p.m. - Christmas Choral Concert (followed by Midnight Mass)
Dec. 24, 10:30 p.m. - Christmas Eve Service - Midnight Mass
Dec. 25, 10:00 a.m. - Christmas Day Service (no 8 am service)
SundaySchoolNewsSunday School News
Plan and Prepare for the Christmas Pageant
It is a tradition that the young people of the Church perform a Christmas Pageant on Christmas Eve at our 5:00 p.m. family service. But this year's pageant promises to be a little add-on to that tradition. A pageant is being written specifically for Grace Episcopal Church in Martinez. So you want to be certain and mark your calendar to be there - and bring your friends and family.
Attention Parents: If you have a child or children who want to participate in the pageant let Marj Leeds know either in person or via email at m-mleeds@comcast.net . Practice will be in lieu of Godly Play on the last 2 Sundays prior to Christmas. There will be an opportunity for participation without practice for some children. These would generally be those for whom sitting through a practice would be painful for all (this is typically a 2 or 3 year old that resembles the Tasmanian Devil) or for those who are unable to attend practice (perhaps a visitor). They will need to be at the Church at 4:00 on Christmas Eve to be costumed and it would be most helpful if you provided Marj with a heads up that they will be appearing.
Godly Play Update
A huge thank you goes out to Victoria Schmidt and Cindy Tottle (perhaps they should be nominated for Sainthood?). They both served as Godly Play Story Tellers for over 10 years prior to their recent retirement. This is a huge commitment of time and talent to serve the young people of our Church and they both did an excellent job. Their replacements, Natalie Austria and Diane Ostermiller, are in place and getting up to speed. We have also added felt board stories into the rotation. This is just a slight variation but is intended to give the children another experience. The felt boards were used for the same purpose in the Church many years ago.
Godly Play is the Montessori-based Christian Education curriculum used at Grace Church for elementary-aged children. The goal of the program is to teach children the art of using religious language -- parable, sacred story, silence, and liturgical action -- to help children interpret the spiritual aspects of their daily lives. Children experience the word of God through the elements of prayer, song, The Word, and response. Grace Church has used Godly Play as its principle teaching method since 2006. For more information about Godly Play, go to www.godlyplayfoundation.org.
Youth Group
Youth Group Update
The Youth Group, led by Luke and Christina Hodgson, is off and going for the year. Their most recent activity involved the "kidnapping" of Luke. They solved a series of clues that led them around the Church property to the final clue and the resulting release of Luke from his captor. However, in the process they were subjected to a couple of other folks jumping out of the dark. A good time was had by all.
Youth Group meets monthly, usually the last Sunday of the month in the evening, and is open to young people in grades 8-12.
OtherParishMinistriesOther Parish Ministries
St. Christopher's Guild
I'd like to thank John Vander Kamp for his help with our Colors of Tea event in August.  John provided all of the tea served as well as gave a great presentation on the origin of tea.  It was a wonderful afternoon and very informative.  Also, thank you to all the ladies who worked to make this event so special, especially Dianne Ostermiller. 
All women of the parish are members of St. Christopher's Guild and are invited to join us on the last Sunday of the month between services for our meetings.  Proceeds from our events are used to help local charities and will be distributed in December.
Our annual Christmas luncheon will be held Tuesday, December 1, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm.  Please join us for lunch and goodies.
Sandy Taylor, President
Men's Group
The Grace Church Men's Group is open to all the men in Grace Church and their invited guests. We hold one event per month from January through October. Usually every other month is a manly potluck breakfast at the Parish Hall. If you are not already participating, you are more than welcome to join in. As a matter of information, the Grace Church Men's Group is entirely self-funded. No funds are taken from the Grace Church operating budget for any of our events.
Dave Eary, Men's Group Coordinator
Altar Guild
The Altar Guild is a group of dedicated and talented women and men who work tirelessly to prepare the church sanctuary for weekly worship, as well as special occasions such as weddings, baptisms and memorial services. If you'd like to learn more about Altar Guild and this important ministry, please see me.
Dena Maniatis, Altar Guild Director
Flower and Candle Dedications
The sign-up books for flower and candle dedications are located in the Narthex. Suggested donations are $35 (flowers) and $5 (candle). 
"...And the turtle-dove's cooing will be heard in our land..." Song of Solomon 2:12b 
Calling all turtle-doves! Weekly choir rehearsals are held on Thursdays at 7:00 p.m., under the direction of our talented organist and music director, Gary Evans. The choir is working hard to provide an uplifting selection of anthems for Sunday services and beautiful music for the Christmas season. If you are interested in joining the choir, please contact Gary Evans evans_alfred@yahoo.com
Throughout the year, Chandra Damele and Beth Ilog continue to keep us connected and attentive to many needs in our community. And Sandy Taylor, with the support of a dedicated crew, is steadfast in her efforts to feed the less fortunate every Saturday night. 
Dinners at SHELTER, Inc.
We are on the schedule to cook dinners at SHELTER, Inc. family shelter during the week of December 28 thorugh (and including) January 1.  A sign up sheet will be posted in the Parish Hall after Thanksgiving. Questions can be directed to Chandra at chandradamele@yahoo.com
Warm Socks and Gloves Drive
With the shorter days upon us and the colder weather, the Outreach Committee is revving up the Warm Socks and Gloves Drive. Look for a basket in the Narthex to leave your donated items anytime between now and the end of December.
Beth has arranged for us to sponsor about 25 people for this year's Adopt-a-Family drive. Keep your eyes and ears open for announcements in Sunday bulletins as the lists and details become available. Questions can be directed to Beth at eilog@comcast.net
People Feeding People
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the success of People Feeding People this year.  We serve 25 - 35 (sometimes more!) people each week in downtown Martinez.  In June, we received a grant from the Contra Costa Deanery for $500, which helps with the cost of the paper products and supplies we use every week.  Meals are served at 6pm Saturday nights on the corner of Pine and Escobar. All are welcome at our table and if you know of anyone who needs our services please let them know about our program.  If you would like to help prepare, serve or just join us for the fellowship, come on down!
Sandy Taylor
Book Corner
There are used books available for a small donation on the Book Cart in the Parish Hall. (If you don't see the cart in the Parish Hall, you will find it parked in the Sunday School wing, across from the mailboxes.) Donations from the Book Corner are passed along to Seminarians.
EventsFellowshipEvents and Fellowship
Use this link to view a full list of events from now through early February 2016. 
Chili2nd Annual Chili Cook-off
When : Saturday, November 21, Social Hour 5:30 p.m.  Dinner 6:30 p.m.
Where : Grace Episcopal Church, 130 Muir Station Road, Martinez
This is not a fundraiser. This is a family and fellowship-raiser with friendly competition. There is no cost to attend or compete, but donations gladly accepted at the door. For information on placing an entry in the competition, please contact Susan Bremmer 925-228-7202 or Jennifer Sabroe 925-383-8386.
OktoberfestChristmas Luncheon
When : Tuesday, December 1, 11:30 a.m.
Where : Grace Episcopal Church, 130 Muir Station Road, Martinez
Cost : $15
Hosted by St. Christopher's Guild, this popular luncheon will be full of delicious surprises and endless gift-giving possibilities!  Browse the White Elephant and Country Kitchen sales tables for affordable treasures. We hope you will be able to join us and bring your friends along for this festive event. Use this link to download the flyer to share with friends and family.
Tickets/Information: Contact Jennifer Sabroe at (925) 383-8386 or by email at jennifer.sabroe@sbcglobal.net
Diablo Regional Concert Band - December 13 Free Concert at Grace
Mark your calendars for the winter holiday concert of our wonderful local community band - Diablo Regional Concert Band. Led by Director Cora Martens the band will perform on Sunday, December 13, at 3:00 p.m. Admission is free, but donations gladly accepted at the door.
Diablo Symphony Performances  On Friday, November 20 and Sunday, November 22 there will be two performances by the Diablo Symphony which will include Ellen Frost (Fr. Jeff's wife) on the violin. You can follow the following link for more information: http://www.diablosymphony.org/buy-tickets/events/
Lessons and Carols at St. Michael's All Angels on November 29, 4:00 p.m.
We have been invited to a service of Lessons and Carols on the First Sunday of Advent, November 29, at St. Michael's All Angels in Concord. The service begins at 4:00 p.m.
Photos for the Website
We're looking for digital photos of church events, that we can post on the church website. If you have recent photos or take pictures at any of the upcoming events, please consider sharing them with us. Photos may be emailed to info@gracechurchmtz.org along with information about the content of the picture, e.g. date taken, event name, names of people in the picture, location, etc.
Player Piano Needs New Home
Wanted: a good home for a player piano with 150 rolls.  Free to a good home; however, a professional piano mover will be needed to move it from Clayton. Contact Mary Canale 925-682-0660.
Grace Episcopal Church | (925) 228-6574 | gracechurchmartinez@gmail.com | http://www.gracechurchmtz.org/
130 Muir Station Rd.
P.O. Box 2338
Martinez, CA 94553