News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California

February 8, 2018

Scripture of the Week

For it is the God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. "

2 Corinthians 4:6
At Grace, Christian education for children ( Sunday  School) is called "Godly Play" and is held during the first part of the  10 a.m.  service after which children join their families for Holy Communion. 
On the 3rd Sunday of the month we have Family Sunday and the children participate in the entire 10 a.m. service. 


There is no Godly Play on Family Sundays (Feb. 18, March 15) 
Godly Play Sunday School   
This Sunday, The Mystery of Easter: Next week we will enter the season of Lent. Our story this week, "The Mystery of Easter," is an introduction to a series of stories about Jesus that will be told during the season of Lent. The central part of the story is a puzzle with six pieces, each one symbolizing one week in Lent. The puzzle pieces are purple on one side and white on the other. The completed puzzle is in the form of a cross. The story emphasizes that Lent a is a solemn time overflowing with meaning which overflows into the season of Easter.
Being part of the Beloved Community of the Diocese of CA

There will be a Diocesan 
'Equipping the Beloved Community/Vestry Training Day" at Grace Cathedral this  Saturday, February 10 from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. At the event, Bishop Marc will share a theological reflection on being the Beloved Community. Amy Cook will introduce some listening and sharing practices for vestries and other church committees or groups to create spaces for dialogue and sharing. Caren Miles will introduce our new Safe Church training with lots of customizable pieces to fit the needs of every church. Among the workshops being offered are an Eucharistic Minister training from 12:45-2:15 p.m. and an Eucharistic Visitor training from 2:30-4 p.m. If you are interested in becoming a Eucharistic Minister and/or Visitor, this is an excellent opportunity to receive the necessary training (and to spend some time with your vestry members.) If you are interested in attending, please let Rev. Deb know. Program and workshop details can be found at  Diocesan Training/Vestry Day event information and registration,
Faith-full Forums     
Once a month since June we have opened our doors to a variety of fascinating speakers and invited anyone who is interested to come and see. Through them, we have had the opportunity to learn about everything from the Dead Sea Scrolls to teenage cell phone use! Please come and invite friends to any and all of these presentations.
On February 18 we will look at The Polity of the Episcopal Church. The word "polity" (not to be confused with the word "politics") means "the process of government." We will consider the idea of the church as a hierarchical democracy and look specifically at the roles of various church ministers, including bishops, priests, deacons, and lay persons.
Looking forward, on March 18 we will welcome Kathleen Piraino, Executive Director of The Episcopal Impact Fund, which supports organizations that address the root causes of poverty in the San Francisco Bay Area, both financially and through mentorship and guidance. Rev. Deb is an EIF Board member and in 2017 Grace sponsored a table at the EIF Night of Light event.  Please come and hear more about their wonderful work!
Dr. Donn Morgan will be here on April 15 to discuss his book, Fighting with the Bible: why scripture divides us and how it can bring us together.
Donn Morgan is Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Always a student and teacher of the Bible, he also held administrative positions at CDSP (academic dean, president). He has been deeply involved in theological education in The Episcopal Church and the Graduate Theological Union, as well as teaching in Asia and England. We are lucky to host him!
During Lent we will be joining Episcopalians around the world in reading the Gospel according to Luke during Lent and the Book of Acts during Eastertide in 2018. As part of The Good Book Club, our Wednesday Bible study will be dedicated to delving deeply into Luke's Gospel. You are welcome to join the conversation on Wednesday mornings in the Chapel, beginning February 21. 10:00 Holy Eucharist, followed by Bible study. 
Healing prayer
We have recently begun offering Healing Prayer during both our 8 and 10 a.m. services. If you wish to have someone pray with you for yourself or others, you may go to the prie dieu (kneeler) at the right rear corner of the sanctuary after receiving communion. This is a ministry of the people of Grace to one another -no clergy required!  We are looking for more volunteers for this important ministry, so if you are willing to pray with others, please let Rev. Deb know. No experience is necessary; we will train you!
If you have palm crosses from last year, you are invited to bring them to church and place them in the offering plate. The Altar Guild will use them to make ashes for Ash Wednesday services.
Preparing for Lent

On Tuesday, February 13 (the evening before Ash Wednesday) all are invited to our Annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall. We will have pancakes, eggs, and sausage.  There is no cost. 

Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, which is February 14 (that's right, Valentine's Day!) this year. 

Here is the Grace Lent schedule of activities:

Ash Wednesday
10 a.m. and 7 p.m., Litany of Penitence and distribution of ashes
Ashes to Go in downtown Martinez at noon.
Sundays during Lent:
8 a.m. Holy Eucharist II
9 a.m. Pancake breakfast
10 a.m. Choral Eucharist

Wednesdays during Lent:
10 a.m. Holy Eucharist followed by Lenten Bible Study: The Good Book Club

March 25, Palm Sunday
8 a.m. Holy Eucharist II
9 a.m. Corned Beef Hash Breakfast
10 a.m. Choral Eucharist

March 29, Maundy Thursday, 6 p.m. in the Parish Hall, Soup supper, Foot Washing, followed by Stripping of the Altar;
Overnight Vigil in the Sanctuary following the service (hourly shifts by sign-up)

March 30, Good Friday:
12 p.m. - Stations of the Cross
7 p.m. - Good Friday Liturgy

March 31, Holy Saturday
10 a.m. Holy Saturday Liturgy
8 p.m. Easter Vigil with the Exsultet and The Lighting of the Paschal Candle

April 1, Happy Easter!
8 a.m. Holy Eucharist II
10 a.m. Choral Eucharist and Egg Hunt

A Different Way to Observe Lent
If you are struggling to figure out what to "give up" for Lent, take on something different instead!  "Lent Madness," the brainchild of two Episcopal priests, is a fun and informative way to make sure that you remember that we are living in the church's primary season of penitence and preparation.  Lent Madness combines the excitement of a sporting event with the opportunity to connect with some of the Christian saints who came before us.  Here's some information taken from the Lent Madness website at
"The format is straightforward: 32 saints are placed into a tournament-like single elimination bracket. Each pairing remains open for a set period of time and  people vote for their favorite saint. 16 saints make it to the Round of the Saintly Sixteen; eight advance to the Round of the Elate Eight; four make it to the Faithful Four; two to the Championship; and the winner is awarded the coveted Golden Halo. The first round consists of basic biographical information about each of the 32 saints. Things get a bit more interesting in the subsequent rounds as we offer quotes and quirks, explore legends, and even move in the area of saintly kitsch...
[Lent Madness has] inspired thousands of people along the way by forming an online community of people who are passionate about taking their faith but not themselves too seriously. Articles and spots about Lent Madness have appeared in the Washington Post, NPR, Huffington Post, FOXNews, NBC, USAToday, and even Sports Illustrated.
As Lent Madness continues to grow and evolve, what won't change is the essence of Lent Madness: allowing people to get to know some amazing people who have come before us in the faith and reminding one another that there's no reason for a dreary Lenten discipline. If this helps people connect with the risen Christ during this season of penitence and renewal, and have a bit of fun in the process, then it continues to be worthwhile."
Keep an eye out for the bracket poster that will be posted in the Parish Hall and updated once Lent Madness begins! If this sounds like something you'd like to do as a Lenten observance, there will be a limited number of Saintly Scorecard booklets in the church office. The Saintly Scorecard is the annual publication containing all 32 first round bios and information about how to participate in Lent Madness as a congregation, including how to enjoy Lent Madness with children!   
The church is us!
We use the word "church" in many different ways: to describe any Christian place of worship; to talk about the larger Episcopal denomination; and, most frequently, to refer to our parish, Grace Episcopal Church, Martinez. But scripture tells us that "the church" is not a piece of property; it's the People of God! We also know that people are very different and that individuals find the Holy Spirit in a variety of ways, including through quiet, meditation and boisterous interactions with one another. At Grace, we attempt to provide room for all people to find God in their own way. Our "church building" helps us do that. We have an area for getting information and chatting (the Narthex, or entrance area) and a sacred space reserved for worship (the Sanctuary). In order to help remind us of the sacred nature of our worship space, we are asking all worshippers to use the Narthex for social visiting and, on Sunday mornings, to stop conversing in the Sanctuary after the bell calls us to worship immediately prior to the service. Thank you in advance for demonstrating respect for the Church!
And speaking of bells...
Grace is blessed with a beautiful bell and tower. Our church bell was purchased in 1875 for $300, making it the second oldest bell in Martinez. It was cast by the W. T. Garrett Company in San Francisco. In 1979 a group of parishioners joined together to construct a bell tower at its present location. We ring the bell prior to each service. Church bells ring to call people to prayer and to welcome the community to join us for worship. Traditionally, multiple daily church services were held and each service was associated with a specific pattern of bell-ringing. Church bells are always rung in multiples of three, the number of the Trinity. At Grace, we have begun ringing the bell nine times (three rounds of three) prior to each service as a prayer offering to God the Creator, Christ our Redeemer, and the sanctifying Holy Spirit.  We invite you to listen and follow this call to prayer.
St. Christopher's Guild  
St. Christopher's Guild welcomes all women to join us the last Sunday of the month between services at 9 a.m. for fellowship and event planning meetings in the Parish Hall. Our events foster community building and the funds we raise are distributed throughout the community to groups serving those less fortunate than ourselves. We will have our first meeting of 2018 on February 18 (Note: change of date from previous announcements.) Currently, we are planning three (3) events: a Spring Luncheon, a Hawaiian themed Luau and our annual Christmas luncheon the first Tuesday of December.
I look forward to seeing you in Church and at our meetings. Please contact me by calling my cell phone 925-586-6062  or by emailing me at  Kind regards, Fran Trant
Join the conversation about helping our homeless sisters and brothers
A couple of weeks ago we introduced a proposed program to offer some concrete assistance to our homeless neighbors. In many churches, ideas about helping people outside of the parish community are generated by an Outreach Committee. In this case, however, Rev. Deb has been receiving visits at Grace from people in need, often when she is alone in the evening. Since she had no Outreach Committee to consult with, she initiated the idea of stocking Kindness Kits for homeless people who visit our campus. These small backpacks would contain a bottle of water, space blanket, granola bar, socks, and a grocery store gift card (to start with) and be available for distribution to those in need. Rev. Deb feels that by giving this kit we would be helping others desperately in need as well as increasing safety at our campus by spreading the word that we do not store or provide money. Since its introduction, however, several parishioners have expressed concern that initiating this project will make them unsafe on the campus. For these reasons, we have decided to stop work on this project until the Vestry is able to discuss it at their February meeting (Wednesday, Feb. 21). We would like to hear from you. Please express either your concern or support for this program to any Vestry member.

An easy way to contribute to Grace


Grace Episcopal Church Martinez is now 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!

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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.