News from Grace Episcopal Church ~ Martinez, California
October 4, 2018 
Scripture of the Week

" People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, 'Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.' And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed them."
 Mark 10:13-16
"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, but children and youth share in the ministry of the church year-round, serving as acolytes, readers, and oblation bearers. 
THIS WEEK IN GODLY PLAY: This season we are sharing stories of the people of the Hebrew Scriptures. Our last two stories of Ruth and Samuel prepared us to hear the story of King David this week.  The story begins with Samuel anointing David as the new King. We then move through the defeat of Goliath - most certainly a favorite part of the story for our young listeners - and then on to Saul's death, David becoming King, and the well-known story of Bathsheba. The entire story is summed up with the statement: "King David was not a perfect king. He made many mistakes, but he recognized what he had done wrong and asked God to forgive him - and God did." The children are invited to wonder what part of the story is most important and which part they liked best. 

Children are always welcome to participate in all services at Grace. There is a children's area near the piano at the rear of the sanctuary with toys, books, and coloring materials for children who do not enjoy sitting in the pews.  There is Nursery Care for babies and young toddlers in the education building.
Blessing of the Animals for the Feast of St. Francis - THIS SUNDAY
This Sunday, October 7, we will celebrate the Feast of St. Francis with the Blessing of the Animals. Rev. Deb will bless animals (including stuffed ones) at both services. All well-behaved and potty-trained animals are welcome to attend the service of their choice and be blessed. This is a GREAT opportunity to bring human friends too!
  Outreach Committee meeting THIS Sunday between services
The Outreach Committee meets the first Sunday of the month, between the 8 and 10 o'clock services. We discuss ongoing projects such as Loaves & Fishes, CORE Homeless outreach donation drive, and seasonal drives, such as the Spirit of Giving program through Contra Costa Interfaith Housing. All are welcome! The next meeting will be this Sunday, October 7, at 9 a.m. at the conference table in the Education Wing.
Stewardship season has begun! 
No one likes to talk about money, but the truth is that we cannot provide the programs and services we enjoy here at Grace without it.  Last Sunday, September 30, we  kicked off a season of education and conversation about what it means to share our time, talent and treasure with as a community of Christ.  This Sunday, October 7, we will hear a brief presentation by Marj Leeds on Christian Education.
Although stewardship campaigns often focus on financial contributions (treasure), the willingness to donate your time and ministry gifts (talents) is equally, if not more, important. There are several ministries here at Grace that are currently in need of volunteers, including the Altar Guild, Counters, and Hospitality Committee (especially coffee hour hosts). To volunteer for the Altar Guild, please contact Elaine Quigley. To volunteer as a counter, please contact the church office. If you are interested in participating in Hospitality at Grace, please let Christina Reich know. For more information at ministries at Grace, check in with Rev. Deb.
Bible Study for Everyone!
On Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m. at Grace we celebrate the Holy Eucharist, followed by Bible Study. We are currently studying  the letters of Paul, which constitute about two-thirds of the New Testament. We are using Church  of England bishop and theologian N.T. Wright's series, "Paul for Everyone." On Wednesday, October 10we will look at Galatians 4:21-31.  We will consider the questions, "What does it mean to be the 'true' children of God?" What have you previously heard about the story of Hagar and Ishmael"?" and "What does this passage have to say about 'outsiders'?" All are welcome!
Healing Service for Victims of Sexual Abuse and Assault 
On Saturday, October 13, at 1 p.m., in the Sanctuary, there will be a Service of Healing for victims of sexual assault and abuse. Prayers and anointing will be offered by Rev. Deb, and participants will have the opportunity to share their stories if they so desire.  All are welcome.
Saturday, October 13, 2018
It's that time of year for another fabulous Oktoberfest dinner! Dust off the Dirndl, shake out the Lederhosen, and work up an appetite! This year we will have a ten-piece "oom-pah" band that will serenade us with German music and accompany "The Chicken Dance!"  Reserve your tickets NOW! $24 per person. Email or call the church office - (925) 228-6574 - or see Amy Eudy on Sundays.    
Memorial Service for Buck Cobb  
There will be a memorial service for parishioner Buck Cobb on Sunday, October 14 at 2 p.m. in the sanctuary.  The service will be followed by a reception in the Parish Hall.  If you would like to contribute to the reception, please let Marj Leeds know.
Join the choir!
Now that we have a fabulous new Music Director and a fancy chamber organ in the Sanctuary, it's time for anyone who has been hiding their vocal light under a bushel to step forward and sing a new song unto the Lord! Choir rehearsals at Grace are Thursday evenings at 7 p.m. You don't need experience or even the ability to read music.  Arthur will be teaching a "Learn or Improve your music abilities" class before choir each week, beginning at 6:30 p.m. Please join this amazing ministry!
Why do we have to CHANGE?!
Very few people say they really enjoy change, and most of us would prefer to keep things status quo - especially if we are feeling comfortable with them. Church folks are particularly notorious for asking, "Why do we have to change?" and Rev. Deb has been hearing a lot of that question lately. The answer is long and complicated and she is always happy to talk to you in person about it, but here are a few things to consider:

1) The Episcopal Church, like its mother Church of England, has always made decisions based on three things: Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. We have a long and beautiful tradition, based on scripture, and we respect and honor it, but we also know (reason) that times change and some of the things we do need to change with the times in order to remain relevant to us. The Episcopal Church strives to make changes that bring us closer to God and one another and to help us grow spiritually and in numbers.

2) There has been a great deal of research on church size. These data tell us that when a church changes in size, we need to change the way it is structured, or it will cease to grow or even shrink in size.  Grace has long been a Pastoral-sized church (50 to 150 members) operating like a Family-sized (fewer than 50) one.  Since her arrival, Rev. Deb has been guiding changes that will help us to function better with our current size AND prepare us to grow further.

3) Part of the changes we are making is to organize ourselves into one united congregation working together for common goals. In order to do that, the Vestry has adopted the SWEEPS model. The SWEEPS acronym identifies the ministries of the church: Service (Outreach), Worship, Education, Evangelism, Parish Life, Pastoral Care, and Stewardship (which includes Buildings and Grounds). All of our ministries fall under one of these headings and each "letter" now has a chairperson so that it's easy for new folks to get involved in activities at Grace and for Rev. Deb to keep track of all of the wonderful work (and fun) going on here.

Change is necessary for the best possible reason: Grace is a g rowing, vital, parish! Your leadership is focused on organizing our ministries to suit the needs of our growing parish by making them more accessible to all.  Do not be afraid! "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord , plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." 
Jeremiah 29:11
Book Group
Read any good books lately? Want to participate in a book discussion group? Like to eat out? Come drop in on the Grace Book Group! We'd love to see you!
When: 3rd Wednesday of the month, at 6:30 p.m.
Where: Smooth Season restaurant at Muir Station
Shopping Center. 
Our next get-together is October 17, when we will discuss "Educated: A Memoir" by Tara Westover. For more information call/text Jennifer Sabroe at (925) 383-8386 or  Email Jennifer.
Pastoral Care news
We are so grateful for seeing many new faces at Grace lately, and we want to make sure all of our parishioners are supported and taken care of.  In order to help Rev. Deb do this, we are forming a Pastoral Care Committee, which will be chaired by Leslie Kolesa.  The Pastoral Care Committee will assist with coordinating home visits, food delivery, and regular check-ins with those in need.  If you are interested in being part of this effort, please let Leslie Kolesa know.  

And speaking of casseroles: many thanks to everyone who brought casseroles to the church to restock our pantry. We like to have food on hand for those who need it.  Now that the freezer is full, we need folks willing to deliver them to those who have requested them.  If you can do this, please let the office know. Call (925) 228-6574 or Email
Upcoming Baptisms
Grace follows the Episcopal Church practice of administering Holy Baptism on or near the Great Vigil of Easter, the Feast of Pentecost, All Saints' Day and the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord (the First Sunday after the Epiphany). The next opportunity for Baptism is October 21. We are doing it on that day rather than All Saints' Day in order to accommodate our beloved twins, Anna and Gigi, whose dad, Shannon, is deploying prior to All Saints' Day.  If you or your child would like to be baptized, please let Rev. Deb know and fill out the form found at this Baptism Intake Form link, so you can begin preparations.
Yoga at Grace
We welcome certified Yoga Instructor Noah Yuzna every  Tuesday evening at 6:15 p.m. to conduct a 60 minute yoga class.  All levels are welcome and modifications will be available for folks with limited mobility.  Classes are open to the community and there is no set cost.  Participants are invited to contribute what they can for each class.  Invite your friends!
  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 will be providing 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
  • 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
  • Hygiene items including (but not limited to) soap, shampoo, oral care, shower wipes, shaving supplies, feminine hygiene items
  • 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).

Parishioners are invited to make donations of items by leaving them in the bin in the Narthex (labeled "C.O.R.E. Outreach"). The items will be blessed by Rev. Deb, and handed off to members of the C.O.R.E. team who distribute while doing their mobile outreach work in the local community.
Kitchen Klutter
An assortment of cooking implements and supplies has accumulated in the kitchen over the past month or so. These are all items that probably belong to a number of wonderful helpers. If this rings a bell for you, please retrieve your items next time you're at church. Thank you!  

Night of Light
On Friday, November 2, the Episcopal Impact Fund (EIF) will host its annual "Night of Light" at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco. EIF is the granting arm of the Diocese of California and is dedicated to addressing the root causes of poverty.  If you are interested in going, please let Rev Deb know. This year Grace Martinez will host TWO tables, which means we have 20 seats to fill. We have two generous donors who have agreed to cover the cost of the tables, but if you are interested in going and are able to contribute the cost of your ticket, we would be grateful as it would be nice not to have our two donors pay the entire cost.



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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.