News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California 
December 26, 2019: The Feast of St. Stephen
Scripture of the Week

" Stephen, full of grace and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.

[Stephen said to them] 'You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are forever opposing the Holy Spirit, just as your ancestors used to do.   Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Righteous One, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers.  You are the ones that received the law as ordained by angels, and yet you have not kept it.  When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen.  But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ' Look,' he said, 'I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!'  But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him.  Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.   While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.'  Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' When he had said this, he died. "
Acts 6:8; 7:51-60

"Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs."  Jesus

At Grace, we have Godly Play (Sunday School) during the school year. During the summer we continue to offer Nursery Care. School age children are invited to join their families in the Sanctuary. We provide coloring and drawing materials, books, and soft toys, as well as a children's area for children who prefer not to sit in the pews with their families.

This week in Godly Play: No Godly Play - Lessons and Carols!

All family members are invited to remain in the Sanctuary for the entire service for our celebration of Lessons and Carols. Nursery care will be available in the Education Building.
Christmas Lessons and Carols
THIS Sunday, December 29 at 10 a.m. we will enjoy a traditional Christmas Lessons and Carols service. There is no sermon or Eucharist in this service.  There will be Eucharist and a sermon at our 8 a.m. service.
Presiding Bishop's Christmas message

Our Presiding Bishop, the Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, has released his annual Christmas message.  You can read or watch it here.
Opportunity to participate in the Winter Nights Shelter program

This year, we have the opportunity to serve as a co-host for the Winter Nights Family Shelter program. Winter Nights is run by the Contra Costa Interfaith Council and provides shelter, food, transportation, and case management services to homeless families with children during the winter months. The families spend the winter staying at multiple churches throughout the county, usually moving from one host church to another every 2 weeks. Other congregations are able to act as co-hosts by providing volunteers and material support to the host churches. 

From January 2-5, Grace will be co-hosting the shelter while the families are staying at First Congregational Church in Pittsburg. For those four days, we will cook hot meals, stock the pantry, help with laundry, and provide fun activities for the kids. We will need plenty of help from our congregation to make this a success, through gifts of both time and money. 

To sign up either go to the sign-up sheet on the Outreach board in the Parish Hall or email Nate Brooks. We need volunteers for dinner all four nights, and for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday

Thank you!
Rev. Deb away next week

Rev. Deb will be taking a much needed break following the Lessons and Carols service on Sunday.  She will be back in the office on January 6, Epiphany.  Perhaps, like the wise people, she will bring gifts from the far east! If you have a pastoral need in Rev. Deb's absence, please contact Senior Warden Lynda Dyer or Deacon Walter Ramsey
Next Sunday, January 5, we will welcome The Rev. Kathy Trapani to preach and preside at both our 8 and 10 am services. Rev. Kathy is the former Associate and Interim Rector at Resurrection Pleasant Hill and is known for her excellent preaching.
Faithful Forums 2020
Grace offers monthly educational forums on broad-ranging topics like The Dead Sea Scrolls, Episcopal Polity, Recycling, and Emergency Preparedness for congregations. These take place in the Parish Hall following our 10 a.m. service (approximately 11:30 a.m.)
Future dates and topics include:

January 19:  Rev. Deb will share her neuropsychology background with us in conversation about Neuropsychology and Spirituality.
February 16: The Reverend Susan Reeve will discuss
Kairos Prison Ministry.
March 15: The Very Rev. Donald Brown will present on the theories and meaning of
Salvation through Jesus Christ.
April 19:  The Rev. Will McGarvey will introduce the work of
The Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County.
Update: Our Brother James

Rev. Deb had an opportunity to speak to our brother James, who was a member of our congregation who suffered from homelessness in Martinez and who has now gone to live with his family in Mississippi. James said he was sorry that he didn't get an opportunity to say good-bye to all his friends at Grace and in Martinez, but wants us to know that he is doing well and is grateful for everyone who helped him over the years. 
 Epiphany Bible Study: The Gospel of John
On Wednesday mornings at Grace we have a 10 a.m. service of Holy Eucharist followed by Bible Study.

There will be no Bible Study on New Year's Day, January 1.

On Wednesday, January 8 we will begin our Epiphany Bible Study: The Gospel of John with the Good Book Club
Start 2020 in the beginning-with the Good Book Club and the Gospel of John! Each day, from Epiphany on January 6 through Shrove Tuesday, February 25, we'll read a passage from this compelling gospel, inspired by "the disciple whom Jesus loved."

We'll encounter the favorite verse of football fans and inspirational sign makers with John 3:16, and we'll also hear stories only heard in John: Jesus turns water into wine at the wedding of Cana, encounters the woman at the well, and raises Lazarus from the dead.

The spiritual Gospel of John uses beautiful poetry: Jesus as the bread of life and as the vine. And it's in John that we hear the great I AM statements.

The text for the course is  A Journey with John:  This book explores the Gospel of John with fifty days of scripture, meditations, and prayers written by dynamic spiritual leaders from across the United States and around the world.It is available as an ebook from most digital platforms.  For information, go to The Good Book Club webpage.
Get ready to party like it's 1870!

Did you know that our church is the second oldest in the county, and that it turns 150 years old this July?  To celebrate this momentous occasion our Planning Committee needs your suggestions. Please let us know your ideas via email at, or speak with co-chairs John Vander Kamp or Melissa Rodrigue-Kennedy.
You are invited to a Contra Costa County Interfaith Event

Grace Book Club
Our next get-together is January 15, at 6:30 p.m., at Smooth Season restaurant at Muir Station shopping center, when we will discuss The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah. For more information call/text Jennifer Sabroe at (925) 383-8386.
There will be a Spaghetti Dinner and Trivia Night on Friday, January 17, 2020. Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m., followed by competitive trivia nerd action. Come and bring friends! If you would like to help or need more information, contact  Amy Eudy
Join the 2020 Census Team!

Make a joyful noise! 
  Be part of the joyful liturgy at Grace by lending your voice to the choir. Choir rehearsals at Grace are Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. You don't need experience or even the ability to read music. Please join this amazing ministry! 
For more information contact Music Director Arthur Omura by calling the parish office (925) 228-6574, after the greeting, select Option 4.   
The Amazing Grace Youth Choir!
Young people ages 7-17 are invited to join in learning to read, appreciate and perform music in a low-stress environment.
Rehearsals are on Sundays at noon (following our 10 a.m. service and coffee hour).
To enroll, contact Music Director Arthur Omura by calling the parish office (925) 228-6574, after the greeting, select Option 4.   
Flower and Candle Dedications
We are blessed by having fresh flowers on our altar each week. These are paid for by parishioners who wish to dedicate flowers (or candles) in thanksgiving or memory of loved ones. There are many open dates available on the flower and candle dedication calendar, located in the Narthex. When signing up for a date on the chart, please be sure to also write your name on the corresponding date in the flower dedication notebook (located on the little table below the chart). Suggested donation $35. The candle dedication notebook on the table under the bulletin board. Suggested donation $5.
Online Directory 
E arlier this year Grace moved to a new church recordkeeping solution called RealmĀ® Inform to  serve the administrative needs of our church. The online directory feature is 
an important part of the way we connect with each other.  We know that it is an adjustment to go from a paper to online directory, but it is now the primary way the church office can reach you, so please enter your information in it.  The information below will help you do that.  Remember, regardless of whether you opt-in to the directory, by keeping your information current, you are helping Rev. Deb and church staff.

Church members get a unique Profile that contains information that you want people in our church to know about you. When you're logged in to your Profile you can update your contact information, change family details, display your photo, and view the online directory. You can customize your privacy settings to select as much or as little contact information to display in the directory. 
If you are a church member and fit any of the scenarios below, please contact Parish Administrator Jennifer Sabroe,
-         You want access to the online directory (aka Realm) but haven't gotten around to creating a login,
-         You want your contact information available to fellow parishioners in the online directory (aka Realm) but don't want to do the login thing, or don't have a computer,
-         You don't want to be in the directory, but want to confirm or update your contact information for the church office.
  C.O.R.E. Homeless Outreach donations
C.O.R.E stands for Coordinated Outreach Referral and Engagement. It is a program of the Housing and Homeless Services Division of Contra Costa County Health Services. Grace provides the C.O.R.E. team with needed items to distribute to individuals suffering from homelessness. This is an ongoing project, so we are requesting:
  • Sleeping bags
  • Blankets (moving blankets are inexpensive and durable)
  • Backpacks - ideally large capacity, durability is less important as they are frequently lost or stolen after a few weeks/months
  • Hygiene items including (but not limited to) soap, shampoo, oral care, shower wipes, shaving supplies, feminine hygiene items
  • Incontinence products (e.g. "Depend") (men's and women's) all sizes
  • Healthy food - preferable non-perishable items that don't require cooking, a can opener, or good teeth. Pull-top cans are good.
  • Bottles of water
  • Socks
  • Sunscreen
  • Pet food (in particular, wet food in pull-top cans). Other pet goodies would be appreciated too!
We also encourage parishioners to consider developing the habit of thinking of our homeless neighbors when shopping (i.e. picking up an extra item or two) and traveling (bringing home the hotel soaps/shampoo). Please leave donations in the Narthex.
Coffee Hour
The sign-up for the coffee hour schedule for January through April, 2020 is posted in the Parish Hall. Please enter your names in by December 24 to get your preferred dates. Tina Reich will assign any dates that aren't filled in (unless you expressly told her not to add you). As always, thank you for your generosity in making coffee hour welcoming to newcomers and enjoyable for us all. If you are new to Grace and have questions about coffee hour, give Tina a call at 925-266-0567 or email her at
Yoga at Grace
Please join Certified Yoga Instructor Noah Yuzna on Tuesdays at 6:15 for a class which is suitable for all ages and ability levels. The class is free with all proceeds divided between Noah and the Church. 
Grace Episcopal Church Martinez is on Amazon Smile. If you are shopping at Amazon, simply go to the  Grace Martinez Amazon Smile link and we will receive a portion of their sale to you.  Spread the word!
Do you have an announcement?
If you have a parish-related announcement for the bulletin or Grace Notes - meeting reminders, upcoming events, special requests, etc. - please email the text of your announcement to the Parish Office 
by end of day on Tuesday. Thank you.

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Serving the community of Martinez
and Contra Costa County since 1868.

Our Mission:
Working together to welcome,
support, and serve all God's people.